This is not the Marvel universe that you remember. This may not even be the Marvel Universe for which you were looking. It certainly isn’t the Marvel universe that previously appeared in Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #s 1-61. This is (if you can pardon the expression), a brand new adventure.
Canceled and re-titled with Spidey’s name topping off the book, Spider-Man’s Marvel Adventures have returned to the company’s publishing schedule and, well it is not quite as we remember it.
This issue starts out with a SWAT team kicking in the door of some business that where some heavily armed thugs are holding hostages. We are hearing the words of a reporter (Gwen Stacy who is doing a profile piece on Spidey), as we see her father, Captain Stacy, outside orchestrating the police. Meanwhile Spidey is also inside (unbeknownst to the police), and tracking someone named Clive Baraby, a NY Supreme Court Judge who has been kidnapped.
Spidey tosses the thug he was questioning out a 4th floor window, snagging him with his webbing just before the guy becomes street pizza, before swinging away. Gwen continues to work the crowd to get statements about Spidey from the various teens on the scene. Across town, Spidey makes his next stop at Pittman Deli, where he takes on a bunch of thugs as he continues his search for Judge Baraby. While Spidey is taking on the thugs in the deli, he finds Baraby, who, as it turns out, is actually in league with the thugs, and not their captive. As Spidey deals with the thugs, he informs Judge Baraby that he is aware that the judge is in league with the Torino Crime family, even though the judge continues to deny it.
Baraby menacingly points out that the police are on their way and will probably give more credence to what a “respected” Judge has to say, over the word of a masked vigilante who is wanted by that Law. This causes Spidey to choose the better part of valor and jump out a window, making good his escape.
Meanwhile Gwen Stacy is across town still interviewing folks. One of the people she meets is “Lester” who ominously tells her that he is in town for “business” (Lester is clearly Bullseye who is here to kill Spider-man for the Torinos). An hour later, she is having lunch with her dad, when Peter and Sophia walk past, and Gwen (obviously upset), tells her dad that she and Pete are no longer dating.
The following Monday at school Peter is called upon in class to talk about how Genghis Khan’s forces attacked their enemies in battle during the 13th Century (he did so because he saw Peter drawing what appear to be new costume designs for Spidey, and felt that Pete wasn’t paying attention. Needless to say, Pete was, and correctly answers the question.). While he is standing, Flash pours something sticky on Peter’s seat.
That afternoon Pete and Gwen head over to The Daily Bugle to gather more information for the staff about Spidey. At the Torino mansion, Berto Torino talks to his staff about Bullseye going after Spidey, while Spidey is across town going after more of Torino’s goons. Then Spidey heads over to the Mandarin house to confront Judge Baraby, as well a large group of Torino thugs. Apparently overwhelmed by a superior force, Spidey is sent reeling from the fight, and runs for the exit, with the thugs & Baraby hot on his heels. Only Spidey really isn’t so much running away, as he’s using Genghis Khan’s tactics to draw the felons into the hands of the waiting police and media.
Spidey swings off as the cops arrest the Torinos and Barby. Back at Sophia’s rooftop Spidey tells her that everything worked out great. Back at the coffee shop place Gwen continues to write about Spidey. Peter heads home pretends to go to bed so Aunt May won’t worry about him then slips out to go on patrol as Spidey.
With this first issue, it is clear that Paul Tobin is continuing to craft this brave new world of the “All New” Juvenile Spidey here in Marvel Adventureland. Too bad, as the series has long since lost most of its charm that it had under Sean McKeever. To McKeever’s credit he managed to tap into that same feeling that Stan had back in the ’60s, giving this Spidey a fun, entertaining freewheeling sense about him.
For whatever reason, Tobin’s messing with the cannon of the character has really soured this title for me. Yes, yes, I understand that he needs to make it relevant for today’s audience, but the addition of so many new characters plus the way it has been altered, really just sets my teeth on edge.
The story itself works, but I can’t quite get passed that so much of it is very different than I feel that it should be, and yeah, I realize that I’m just a grouchy old fan and this book is so obviously not for me, I’m just afraid that it isn’t for the audience that it is apparently targeting either.
This book takes the place of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, picking up with the same continuity as that series had at the end of its run.
This initial issue also contains a six-page Franklin Richards Boy Genius story by Chris Eliopoulos, which is a very nice touch, still while it is always enjoyable reading Chris' stuff, it would have been nice if a story containing an appearance by Spidey had been chosen.