In Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. The following story takes place in the days that follow that historic event.
Teenager Clayton Cole is a scientific genius! He also happens to be a wrestling fan and, although he can't find any friends to go with, attends the wrestling match where a masked Peter Parker beats Crusher Hogan! Clayton cannot believe his eyes and records it all on his phone.
He uploads it on to the internet that night and quickly gains millions of hits. He spots an advert for Spider-Man first television appearance and knows he simply has to be there!
That Saturday, Clayton is queuing outside and telling everyone that he knows Spider-Man and is the one who made him famous. Clayton spots a man breaking into the side of the building but decides not to act in case he misses the show.
Inside, Clayton is inspired and awestruck at Spider-Man's costume, webbing, powers and agility! He manages to get Spider-Man's first ever autograph and is officially obsessed.
Clayton leaves the theatre on cloud nine and, behind him, the burglar from before escapes in the street.
At home, Clayton frames the autograph and decides that if Spider-Man can do it, so can he. With the right tech, practice, moves and costume... he's going to be amazing too!
This is basically a supervillain origin but, as Dan Slott has done so well in the past, Clayton Cole is a Peter Parker mirror. He is a science whizz, a loner and a teenager (and he has a first and surname that starts with the same letter!). Even the previews of his costume (as Clash) mirror Spider-Man's. It is a formula that works and I'm looking forward to seeing how Slott ties these similarities into the history of Spidey's early days.
This was the back-up story I was bothered about the least, heck even Marvel put it last. It wasn't too long since With Great Power..., a mini-series that explored the unseen early days and we've got the outstanding Untold Tales of Spider-Man that does the same thing. I wondered whether or not there is room another series like this, but Slott is already on the way to proving me wrong. There's something about this era that is quite magical and seeing it through Clayton's eyes gives a fresh perspective.
Ramon Perez's art is incredible. There's Steve Ditko, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee and Javier Pulido in here and that shot of Spider-Man swinging for the first time is indeed as awe-inspiring as Clayton believes it is. Perez captures the style of the era but makes it his own through clever panel breaks, busy pages and a clean level of detail that the above artists all strive for. When this style works well, simplicity of line and style does not compromise reality, nor the story's subtleties, and here is evidence to prove my point.
One small thing that bother me though, is the technology available to these characters. I know Slott establishes that Peter has been Spider-Man for 13 years in the main story, but did we really have camera phones that good 13 years ago? It just feels a little awkward.
Before this story, I was ready to brush Amazing Spider-Man: Year One - Learning To Crawl aside, but I'm now really excited to see what Slott does with Peter's early days.