This title is unique experiment for Marvel; The comic casts a classic version of Spider-Man set in a modern age, in doing so it delivers both the fun and feeling of old-time continuity (for us older fans), layered on top of the well-worn and comfortably-known Spider-Man history, yet (and this is the cool part), it holds no impact on actual continuity.
Therefore, it simply doesn't get any better than this! The title is one part retro Spidey as a teen (think Marvel Age: Spider-Man), one part Modern Spidey as a teen (Ultimate Spider-Man), and two parts Classic Spidey as a teen (Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man); making it more than an just an alternate universe Spidey, but just shy of an actual continuity implant. All of which makes this series not only fun to read, but very entertaining.
Peter Parker gets into a nighttime brawl with Dr. Strange's old nemesis Nightmare, and winds up in a knock-down, drag-out with none other than Spider-Man!
Floating in a nightmarish world of randomly floating chucks of rocks, Peter Parker, beloved nephew of his Aunt May, is battling for his life against his most aggressive foeman, his own alter ego, the one and only Spider-Man! How did this come to be? It is for sure that young Peter has no clue.
Sitting in Science lab the following day he has determined that he has finally snapped, and the squirrels are in finally charge of the nut house. Just when he think he has finally tripped the rift, who walks up to him but Liz Allan, and then she actually asks him out. Now Peter is certain that his tenuous grip on reality has finally slipped its last cog, and he admits as much to Liz. To which she responds that yep, it has because he has just been Punk'd big-time.
Suddenly the entire student body of ESU surrounds Pete and Liz; whereupon Flash Thompson shows up and accuses Pete of "making time with his girl" and knocks Pete down. (Pete wonders aloud if he is somehow stuck in the '60s - an obvious nod to the fact that this all did originate in the '60s). Surprised that Flash could knock him down, and thinking this a nightmare Pete jumps up and faces down his bully, only to discover that he is standing in the hallway in his underwear.
Upon discovering himself in his skivvies, he finally realizes that it is in fact a nightmare, and relaxes a bit, then makes ready to run away from the hoards of his imaginary ESU students, when his Spidey-sense starts buzzing; a first for his dreams. At this point, Peter runs out of the school, transforms into Spidey, and swings off, only to discover that he is not actually in control of his own actions.
It is at this point that the demon Nightmare finally appears and causes Spidey to fall from a great height, at the top of one of his arcs. As plummets to the ground, Peter finally wakes up in his own bed, in a cold sweat. Walking downstairs, he comes across a pile of unpaid bills in the front light table. He worries how Aunt May will pay them all, when the drawer for the table explodes into a swarm of bills, engulfing the hapless teen. Immediately Petey transforms back into Spidey.
As the Webbed hero valiantly attempts to fight off the encroaching pile of endless bills, he finds himself drowning, only to have a helpful hand reach out to pull in up from the engulfing tide. Unfortunately for Peter (which we can see although he can't) is that the hand was Nightmare's. Peter sees his Aunt May. Thinking that it is she that has pulled him from the fray, he feels that he is safe. Only his spidey-sense once again kicks into high gear and he shoves May aside just as a flaming pumpkin bomb gets tossed through their front window.
Switching again to Spider-Man, Peter turns to face The Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and The Sandman. Just as he attempts to deal with these three deadly foemen, Spidey is knocked for a loop, only to look up and find himself face-to-face with JJJ sporting a red cape and a bling-sized, diamond- studded "J" around his neck, and her is here to not only fire Peter, but kick Spidey's butt (both of which he proceeds to do) as he calls the trio of Green villains down upon our hero.
Pete manages to avoid a serious stomping by convincing himself that it is all a dream. Only he "wakes up" back in that endless pseudo-Ditko void where we discovered him at the beginning of this twisted tale. It is here that he finally confronts his antagonizer, the nefarious Nightmare. The demon tells Peter that he is a wrath of his night-time world, and that he plans to torment him endlessly in this realm.
Always a bit of the skeptic, Pete begins to walk away, only to find himself confronted by his costumed self. Much to the joy of Nightmare, Pete and Spidey begin to duke it out even as they become the men who fall to Earth. The two halves of the same being go at it big-time, whaling off on each other until Peter's higher intellect finally kicks in, and he simply stops struggling. He manages to convince his doppelganger that the only way to defeat Nightmare is to team up and go after him, together. As soon as Nightmare realizes that he has lost this round, he simply looses interest in the duo, and banishes them back to reality.
Whereupon Peter wakes up (for real this time), in his own bed, with Aunt May there by his side, bringing him breakfast in bed.
Once again, we are treated to some truly, classic stuff. If you haven't patched into this series you are really missing some great stuff. Personally, I haven't had this much fun in a Spidey comic since the days of Mantelo and Sterno back in the '70s. The dialogue and characterization are so crisp and reminiscent of Spidey's early youth, that you can just feel the presence of Stan in the wings. The art radiates a youthful vibrancy and energy that is unfortunately missing in many of today's comics (including, unfortunately many of the regular Spidey-Titles).
If you are looking for a jumping-on point into the Spidey legend, have a friend (or know a child), to whom you are attempting to introduce to comics via Spidey's wonderful mythos, then this is the series you want to pitch to them. For it is with this series, that Marvel recalls that both casual and new (or young) readers need a place to jump on, and get hooked with the magic that is Marvel comics.