Writer : Kurt Busiek
Penciller : Pat Oliffe
Finishes : Al Vey & Pam Eklund
Remember a few issues back when "Tiny" McKeever, a sports jock at Pete's high school was coming to school with more bruises than he really oughta? Figured it was his dad beating him up? Well, it sure was - but instead of playing it up as a big morality issue, Tiny just leaves home and school and gets a job pumping gas.
Spidey spots Tiny working downtown, but before he can decide what to do about it - he gets jumped but "The Scorcher", first appearance in Untold Tales #1. Spidey chooses discretion over valour, and scarpers - leaving two problems unresolved.
He returns later as Peter, but is unable to pursuade Tiny to return to school. Tiny's self-esteem is lower than zero, and it's hard to deal with that. Changing to Spidey, he spots the Scorcher sneaking around. It turns out that Scorchie runs the gas station, and is using it as his secret base for a protection racket.
Spidey rejoins the fight, and Tiny gets dragged in as well. Scorcher is a fatal victim of his own flame blast, and Tiny's ego is boosted just enough for him to reconsider school as an option - but life still ain't going to be easy for him.
I liked that way that this story didn't try to deal with the issue of child abuse. So many books bring in an abused character, and fix the whole problem in however many pages are left from 32 when you subtract ads and letters. Busiek has the sense to know that just ain't any way to handle that sort of subject matter - and he doesn't try. Instead, he just presents the problem, and then shows how people handle it. Tiny leaves home. The issue isn't resolved, but then again, these things often aren't resolved.
This book also has a chart showing how the Untold Tales stories fit into the early Amazing books. Brilliant! If they're going to screw around with 30-plus years of history, it sure is nice to know that they plan to watch where they put their feet.
Again, better than run-of-the-mill. I'm going to go with 4 webs again.