Spider-Man Unlimited (Vol. 3) is Marvel's new "showcase" title. Released bi-monthly, each issue features two separate stories each month by guest creators. The debut issue was a definite mixed-bag, opening with a rather hackneyed rip-off story, but closing with a witty and original piece of creative writing. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the second issue can get some consistency going.
The first of our two stories this issue is written by Adam Higgs, with art by Rick Mays. It's called "Tests", and it opens with Spidey sitting on the side of a building marking chemistry tests. He's particularly pleased that one kid named Jordan has done really well after tutoring, with his grades going from Ds to As. Yay.
Of course, life as Spidey is never uneventful, and ten seconds later, a guy whistles past him, clearly a window washer having dropped off his platform. Spidey drops into free-fall and saves the guy... who thanks Spidey, telling the web-slinger that he needed to live in order to look after his niece, whose parents died and now depends on him. Surprisingly, about 10 seconds after landing, the paramedics have arrived. Wow... they must have left the hospital about five minutes before the guy fell!
Spidey then spends the rest of the story diving through New York traffic and catching the falling test papers, which he dropped in his haste. He snags 'em all, except Jordan's first "A", which falls in the city dump (though I don't recall city dumps being placed right next to Manhattan high-rises... it's rather a low-brow use of VERY expensive land). Cut to Public School 108. Science Teacher Mr. Parker has a very happy student with his first "A", although Jordan does happen to notice that his teacher smells a bit weird.
The story here isn't too unreasonable, and it's original. But there are just so many un-swallowable co-incidences here. I mean, a guy falls off a window-washing platform within six feet of Spidey? The paramedics arrive before the guy has even finished saying "Thanks"? The falling-down guy drags out his beautiful sob-story about his niece. The only paper Spidey doesn't catch is Jordan's. The city dump smack in the heart of downtown? All of these just add up to a background annoyance level that's just too high to ignore, and really takes the gloss off what would otherwise be a perfectly acceptable story.
Oh, Rick Mays is a pretty mediocre artist, by the way. There's a hint of that annoying manga-style, but with all the faces having really chunky and unattractive features.
Jordan may have gotten his first "A", but I can't give Higgs and Mays more than a 2.5, which is a failing grade.