Spider-Man Mythos

Background

Everyone knows the origin of Spider-Man. In the 11-page classic of Amazing Fantasy #15, we see the introverted Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider, get insect's spectacular abilities and learn the valuable lesson that with great power, there must also come great responsibility. The story of how the web-head came to be has been retold in the comics, cartoons and in films God only knows how many times. Enter Spider-Man Mythos, yet another retelling of how Peter Parker gained the powers of a spider and learned one of life's lessons the hard way.

Story Details

  Spider-Man Mythos
Summary: Re-telling of Amazing Fantasy #15
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Paolo Rivera

The story begins at Midtown High school. All the kids have formed their own clicks and tight social groups. Everyone seems to be fitting in. Except a nerdy kid standing off all by himself. It's Peter Parker, looking depressed at the sight of everyone gathered around Flash Thompson. Having all he can stand, he goes home.

At home, Aunt May gives Peter some wheat cakes (what's the deal with those things?), completely oblivious to what's troubling her nephew. Uncle Ben asks Peter why he's feeling blue and Peter tells him that things suck at school because Flash just won't leave him alone. Uncle Ben tells Peter that Flash is afraid of Peter's intelligence and that people with power are the ones who make a difference in the world. He goes on to tell Peter that if he has power (wait for it) then he has responsibility.

The next day, Peter is attending a science exhibit and they are discussing the effects of radiation. During a demonstration of radioactive rays, unknown to everyone, a small spider descends down on a web right in the middle of the rays. The spider then lands on Peter's hand and bites him just before it dies. Peter, in pain and feeling dizzy goes outside to get some air but he doesn't notice that he's walked into the path of a speeding car. The men in the car don't see anyone on the street so they think they missed him. Peter is sticking to a wall, surprised that he's defying the laws of gravity.

Aunt May knocks on Peter's door to wake him up for school but his door is locked. Uncle Ben tells her that every teenager has a right to play hooky every now and then. A look inside Peter's room shows us that webbing is all over the place and the boy is nowhere to b found.

On the roof tops, Peter is testing out his web-shooters that he just invented. He's having a lot of fun until he screws up. Climbing up a wall to get his bearings back, the surprises keep coming when Peter grabs a metal pipe and crushes it. So he's got these awesome abilities. What does he do with them now? Use them to make money, of course!

Uncle Ben is watching Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the show is having super hero tryouts. There's a man sticking to a wall in a red and blue suit who calls himself Spider-Man. He does a back flip off the wall, shoots a web, grabbing the coffee mug off the desk and places it in his hand with ease, making a perfect landing. Spidey's agent, Jimmy is asked where he found the wall-crawler. Jimmy says he came to him. Jimmy is told that whatever he is paying Spidey to have it doubled.

When the show is over, Jimmy gives Spider-Man his pay in the parking lot. Jimmy tells him that he doesn't mind Spidey keeping his identity secret in front of the crowds but he needs to be on the level with him for liability issues and such. Spidey tells Jimmy it's going to be his way or the highway. Jimmy reluctantly agrees and tells him to work on his costume. At that moment, a policeman is shouting for Spider-Man to stop a crook, who already has a considerable lead ahead of him. Ignoring the officer's plea, the thief makes his escape, via elevator. The police officer berates Spider-Man for letting the man get away but Spidey shrugs it off, saying it isn't his problem and walks away. Aunt May wonders where Peter got all the money that Uncle Ben is counting. Fearing he may be selling drugs, uncle Ben says he'll have a talk with the boy.

Having worked on his costume, Peter is swinging through the city. He's gotten a better feel of his spider-powers so he isn't slamming into walls or making lousy landings as he did earlier. Spending most of the day web-swinging around New York, he finally decides to call it a night and head home. But something isn't right when he arrives. The cops are in front of his place and they're bringing in a stretcher. Peter is informed that his aunt is with the neighbors and that uncle Ben was shot and killed. When he hears the location of the man who shot is uncle, Peter dawns his costume and makes his way to the ACME warehouse.

Inside the warehouse, the killer looks outside the window but his attention is directed to the ceiling when he hears a voice. Shocked at the sight of Spider-Man sticking to a wall, the crook begins to shoot wildly. Spidey evades every bullet and quickly disarms him. As he tries to run away, Spidey shoots some webbing at his feet and drags him back. Getting a good look at the guy's face, Spidey realizes that this is the same scum bag he let run past him not too many days ago. Angered, Spidey drags the guy to the top of the warehouse, saying he should have killed him when he had the chance. Lifting him up and holding him over the edge of the building, Spidey demands the crook tell him that he is the one who has all the power. Afraid for his life, the thief tells Spidey he has all the power. Spidey says he should kill him for what he's done but he has responsibilities, even to a murderous punk like him. He leaves him webbed to a street light for the cops to deal with.

Aunt May and Peter hold each other and cry as the rain pours down at Uncle Ben's funeral. Peter sits alone in his room in the corner, his head buried. It's still raining but we see Spider-Man outside sticking to a building, looking to right any wrongs or help anyone in need.

General Comments

Wow. If I were to sum up Spider-Man Mythos in a single word, that word would be "wow." Amazing Fantasy #15 is widely regarded as one of the best Spider-Man stories out there and one of the best stories in all of Marvel comics. This updated version reinforces that and then some! Paul Jenkins' writing is right on the money. I particularly liked the way he started off the story, assuming that if you're holding this book, then you already "know the story thus far." The way he had Spidey telling the killer that his life was in his hands was a nice addition to a classic tale. Yes, I know he knocked out the guy in the original story but this tale still sticks extremely close to the source material so there's no way I can knock it.

Paolo Rivera's artwork is just superb. You may remember him from his work on Spectacular Spider Man #14, volume 2. He paints an amazing (pun kinda intended) Spider-Man. If I had to describe his Spider-Man, I'd say it's a mix between Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. Rivera prefers to use thin eyes on the mask, something I've come to like since reading this book and going back to check out SSM #14, v2. This is especially helpful when he confronts the burglar in the warehouse. The way he's just sticking to that wall really does make him look menacing. This would freak out anyone that was on the run from the fuzz, hiding in the dark.

Peter's costume actually looked really rough around the edges when he first appeared on TV. the gloves didn't cover all of his skin, his mask was on sloppy, and you can see part of his eyes on the mask aren't sewn on all the way. Very nice touches.

Overall Rating

Amazing. Spectacular. Sensational. An excellent retelling of Amazing Fantasy #15. Get this one if you see it. Five webs.