Check your devils at the door, my friends, for you have just entered the Marvel (Adventure) Universe. We control the horizontal, we control the vertical, and whikle no red-headed girlfriends exist, neither do cloven-hoved demons looking to steal your soul (or your marriage) and we are extremely very happy , as we have come here to be entertained. This is a world where Spider-Man is still a teen, only he doesn't live in some long ago time, but in the hi-tech world of right-now, today, re-imagined for a modern sensibility only without all the grim and grittiness of that bygone day, but with all of the exciting nuances and fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. It is important to say that while it is most assuredly true that these stories are targeted for a much younger audience than your typical Marvel Comic reader; it should be duly noted that there are plenty of us "old timers" (yes, I'm one) who were around back during those hey-day of that era who still find this title a refreshing breeze. In this version of the Marvel Universe, it is present-day America, and Peter Parker is not only still attending Midtown High, but he (as always) is a part-time freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle.
So sit back, relax and enjoy yourselves, you are about to be thoroughly entertained.
Quick, think of the silliest name you can give a supervillain. Nope, not silly enough. Truly one of the all-time silliest names is Paste Pot Pete (another is The Ringer, but that is another story). Paste Pot Pete is one of those classic Stan Lee villains that just never gets old. (Goofy, sure, ridiculous, absolutely, but old? Never!)
As we begin this tale, Spider-Man is going toe-to-toe with Sandman and manages to easily take him down by trapping him inside of a van and then webbing it shut. However, as this is the beginning, rather than the end of the story, the really cool stuff is still to come.
While he is trapping Sandman inside the van, Spidey is observed by a disgruntled scientist, who watches Spidey swap out his web cartridges. This galvanizes said scientist to re-think his own invention; which is also a chemical compound. Watching Spidey dispense his Webbing the scientist realizes that if he could only get his hands on Spidey's web-shooters, then he could use them to dispense his own compound.
Back at the Bugle, Peter is having trouble selling Spidey photos to J. Jonah Jameson (especially considering that the ones he is trying to hawk to JJJ now are blurry and badly framed). Dejected, Peter heads out to find some more bad guys to stop, so he can snap photos of them so he can sell them to Jonah, so that he can pay his bills. Fortunately, this being NYC that doesn't take him very long at all, and soon he happens upon a trio of masked thugs attempting to rob a check-cashing business.
Unfortunately for our young webbed hero, this is all a set-up by the afore-mentioned Paste Pot Pete (the disgruntled scientist). Unfortunately for Paste Pot, as soon as Spidey hears his name, the webbed wonder collapses in a fit of the giggles, which only serves to infuriate Pete, who attempts to glom onto Spidey with his paste gun. Which turns out to be unfortunate for the thugs, who get caught in Pete's paste as Spidey leaps out of the way.
The following night Pete tries to snag Spidey again, but again fails to account for Spider-man early warning spider-like senses, and once again misses. Less than amused by his antics, Spidey webs Pete up, and tries to turn him over to a cop. Problem is, other than dressing in a ridiculous costume, having a super-silly name, and trying to put the grab on Spidey, Pasty has really done nothing "arrestible" so the cop has to let him go.
As the week wears on Pete, tries again and again to capture Spider-Man, and finally succeeds in gluing the teen hero to the wall when he invades the Daily Bugle. It is at this point that Pete finally gets what he was after all along, Spidey's web-shooters. The following day, Paste Pot Pete knocks over a bank and a webless Spidey tries (and fails miserably) to stop him. The problem being that Spidey is having a tough time getting close to Pete without the use of his web-shooters, which are now being worn by the criminal.
As can be expected, a webless Spidey can't catch crooks (or swing through the steel canyons of Manhattan), and negatively impacts on Peter's ability to sell photos of his alter ego to his nemesis editor. Plus, Jameson is seriously peeved at Spidey for the piles of Paste goo that are still caked throughout the Bugle's newsroom (the fact that the past is not Spidey's fault is hardly a consideration for JJJ).
In encounter after encounter Spidey is thwarted by Paste Pot Pete, who keeps up his one-man crime spree utilizing Spidey's web-shooters, and (apparently) getting the better of our hero with each encounter. However, appearances can (and often are) deceiving. As the pair's final encounter, when Pete runs out of web fluid. Not knowing how to reload the wrist-shooters, he reverts to his own bulky back-pack, only when he tries to spray Spidey, the tank explodes, covering the hapless villain in a mountain of sticky goop. It is at this point that Spidey reveals that he has been stringing the goofy villain along all week, getting him to use up the webbing in Spidey's wrist cartridges, while simultaneously crimping the valves on Paste Pot Pete's own paste shooters.
Proving, once again, that Spidey is more than just the costumed adventurer, but a smart, and savvy scientist all on his own.
Yes folks, another wonderfully-entertaining and thrilling Spidey tale told in this very simplistic style. We get a fully-fleshed out tale of Spidey that is engaging and fun to read without feeling that we are being talked down to or led along in a story that is being padded out for inclusion in a larger graphic album to be marketed later on to some other fans in a more expensive format. This is Spidey at his best. Fun, breezy, and to the point.
Man do I love it when a Spidey story clearly shows that Peter is every bit as much a character and an integral part of this comic as is Spidey. Sure, sure Spidey gets all of the glory, but it is Peter's analytical thinking and scientific mind that drives the action. I love that — in spite of the fact that we were intentionally being led down a wrong path by the writer — it became clear at the story's conclusion that it was really all a trap for Paste Pot Pete.
I also rather enjoyed how Spidey reacted to Past Pot Pete's name. It reminded me of how when I first read about Pete it never occurred to me how silly the name was and then years later (long after he had changed it to the Trapster) was I discovered that these two characters were one and the same, and the character himself admitted that it was a rather silly name.
It is this comic's very nature to revel in that kind of harmless silliness that totally endears it to this reviewer and makes it the priceless gem that it so totally is to read.
A last-page blurb makes us aware that next issue Spider-Woman will appear (which of the three or four incarnations will it be this time), and that the following issue (#52) an entirely new incarnation of Spider-man will appear, with a new creative team (Paul Tobin, Matteo Lolli, and Skottie Young).