This issue prints episodes from Amazing Spider-Man Digital, originally available on Marvel.com. Written by “Web-Head” Bob Gale and pencilled by Patrick Olliffe, this story occurs somewhere between Amazing Spider-Man #604 and #612.
Things are coming to a head: The Spider Girls (Becky, Emma and Leila – three high school girls who are emulating the attitude of Spider-Man in their volunteer work) have become locked in a media battle with celebrity Teri Hillman. Mayor J. Jonah Jameson’s Anti-Spider Squad has been given a deadline to bring Spider-Man in and are planning to use The Spider-Girls as hostages. Spectrum, a light-manipulating villain, has a mission for Saturday night. And Spider-Man is right in the middle!
Peter Parker covers Teri Hillman’s latest statement, responding to the Spider-Girls (Emma, Becky & Leila) with Norah Winters. Teri surprises everyone by agreeing with them, that she is a shallow and uses the media to her advantage. She gives double the $100,000 she was going to give to charity if Spider-Man had dinner with her and he now doesn’t have to do a thing to earn it! She fires her manager and, upon hearing this, Mayor JJJ fires Lubeck, his assistant, who has been working with Teri’s manager to manage their media relationship.
The next day, The Spider-Girls find their social lives changed – they are invited to Meg’s party! As they ready themselves for Saturday night, The Anti-Spider Squad (A.S.S.) plan to grab them as hostages!
Saturday arrives and The Spider-Girls are collected in a limousine, they presume Meg has sent… It turns out to be driven by The A.S.S.! They are gassed and wake up tied to chairs in the middle of a warehouse! The A.S.S. demand that the girls contact Spider-Man! Suddenly Spider-Man, who has planted a tracer in one of the girls’ phones (when they were at FEAST), arrives and starts beating on The A.S.S.! Their commander pulls a gun on Becky and orders him to stop. Becky tells him to shoot, as Emma and Leila are capturing the whole thing on their phone! Spidey punches him and webs him up! He makes them all swear to resign tomorrow and apologise to the girls. The girls want to prosecute but Spidey recommends they avoid the media frenzy. They suddenly realise they’ve got worse problems – they are late for the party!
At Meg’s party, the Spider-Girls arrive… swung in by Spider-Man himself! The party gets going but Spectrum appears and all the colours in the room change! Spidey webs his lenses up enough to block Spectrum’s powers and webs him up! Spectrum yells that he’s not a criminal, he’s the entertainment! Meg’s father appears and explains that he hired Spectrum to give a legal trip to the party goers! Spectrum’s prior appearances were all demonstrations of his powers to gain publicity and bookings (see www.spectrum-the-entertainer.com)! Spidey recalls how he too used his powers for money and understands his actions. For ruining the party, Spidey is kicked out!
Teri Hillman, happy with her new, honest public image, gets a phone call ordering her back to her hotel… where dozens of Spider-Men are waiting to have dinner with her as she promised…!
This delightfully understated arc comes to a close but there are a few cracks appearing in the storytelling all arising, I think from this issue’s original digital format. There are a lot of quick setting and time changes between panels, which really makes this feel crammed and disjointed. Transitional panels and narrative time-checks are missing and it hurts the flow greatly.
The story itself is pretty good. It rounds The Anti-Spider Squad off in a clean and careful way, carries The Spider-Girls through their development and delivers a refreshing revelation regarding Spectrum (so glad Bob Gale decided to not use a supervillain!). Just as in the previous issues, characters are given room and readers are given plenty of good quality dialogue to get their teeth into. Each pay-off scene, Teri, A.S.S and Spectrum, is also timed well to balance the issue and maintain the conclusion.
Patrick Olliffe’s art is as good as ever. Each pay-off delivers in terms of emotion, action and slight tension and there’s the usual array of careful character studies and subtle reactions. I think his art suits being squashed into tight pages, therefore making him ideal for this project and the style of story, but I’d love to see him tackle some more spectacular action sequences with more room in the future.
A good story comes to a good conclusion but problems with the telling are starting to show.
To their credit though, Bob Gale and Patrick Olliffe have produced something quietly impressive and a fine study of the smaller, human aspects of Spider-Man’s life and supporting cast.