Every once in awhile, Spectacular Spider-writer Paul Jenkins likes to give us fair readers an off-beat story that's about superhumans so much as it is about humans, and these stories invariably wind up being some of the best reads around. And this issue is no exception...
At the beginning of the issue, we're introduced to Joey Beal, a young man who was born with cerebral palsy. Joey's disease has left him unable to walk or talk or use his limbs in any way. He is a bright young man who is forever trapped in his own body by his disease. And he is fascinated by Spider-Man. Joey sits atop his apartment building in his wheelchair for hours at a time, dreaming that he can fly across the city, and from time to time he is fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of Spider-Man. And lately, Joey has noticed something sinister lurking in an apartment building across the street.
The next night, after being helped through another day by his father and sister, Joey finds himself back on the roof. And it's this night that the something sinister across the street makes itself known. It flies across the street and lands next to Joey, where it introduces itself as Morbius, the Living Vampire. Morbius tells Joey that he feels sorry that Joey is trapped inside his own body and is about to feed and end Joey's pain when Spider-Man arrives. Spidey and Morbius fight, and Joey has a front row seat for the most amazing thing he's ever seen, until the battle rages away and out of sight.
Joey thinks that his excitement is over for the night, when suddenly Spider-Man returns. Spidey tells Joey that Morbius is gone for good. Spidey talk to Joey for a minute more, and when Spidey goes to leave, he pauses and unmasks himself for Joey. And Joey takes one look at Spider-Man's face and realizes that his pain is nothing compared to what Spidey carries with him every day. With Spidey gone, Joey's father arrives to take Joey back downstairs, oblivious to the marvels that his son just witnessed.
Paul Jenkins has crafted a beautiful little story here. While Spider-Man's battle with Morbius is the only one that features any punches thrown, the real battle in this issue is the one fought by Joey Beal and his family every day. Joey's story is both touching and sad, and it is brought to life wonderfully through the words of Jenkins and the gorgeous painted art of Paolo Rivera.
Some people may complain that this story is so similar to "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man", and I really have no argument against that. All I can say is that both stories are fantastic.
Five webs. 'Nuff said.