For those of you who have been following my monotonous griping over the fact that Marvel is using the Spider-Man character on too many superhero teams, you’ll note that one of my biggest complaints is that in the context of Jonathan Hickman’s FF/Fantastic Four and Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers/New Avengers, Spider-Man rarely gets an opportunity to prove why he’s a “special” asset on these teams, thus (in my opinion) invalidating his presence.
I was hopeful that the launching of Avenging Spider-Man, a Spider-Man centric series, written by a guy who knows the Spider-Man universe well (Zeb Wells), which also happened to weave in characters from other comic book series (i.e. the Avengers)would nix this “problem.” November’s debut issue was a fun, albeit shallow, revisionist Marvel Team-Up romp, but it’s follow-up finally provided that certain something I’ve been looking for from Spider-Man and the Avengers together.
As most of you already know, Spider-Man has super-strength, but certainly lags in the power department behind the likes of the Hulk or the Thing, and while he’s a brilliant scientist, guys like Mr. Fantastic have him beat in the brains department and Tony Stark/Iron Man overshadow him in the cool technology arena. Where Spider-Man shines is when the writers focus on the character itself. That’s why Dan Slott got so much credit from me and others for what he put together during Spider Island, and those who tend to gloss over Spider-Man/Peter Parkers daily personal struggle, are less popular.
What works so much in Avenging Spider-Man #2 is that the Spidey and Red Hulk are such polar opposites on the personality scale, you just knew that somebody in the issue was going to end up paying the consequences for their personality. Would it be Spider-Man and his more calculated, passive approach, or Red Hulk’s aggressiveness?
And in a decision that should be common sense for a Spider-Man centric comic book, Spider-Man’s cautious, “no one dies” personality survives, while Red Hulk’s “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude leaves the character in an incredibly perilous position at the end of the issue – setting up the perfect cliffhanger/resolution in #3 later this month.
But despite it coming across as “common sense” for me to go in this direction, I guess years of so-so writing with the Spider-Man character, especially as it pertains to his relationship with the Avengers, leaves me in a position to applaud the fact that Wells highlights Spidey’s way as the “right way” (despite the fact that we don’t know how Spider-Man is going to survive the situation he’s found himself in). Because to read a comic book that highlights and over-aggressive musclehead, I’d just go pick up the Hulk, just as if I wanted to see someone make fun of the Thing every issue, I’d reach for my copies of Essential Fantastic Four and relive some classic Johnny Storm/Human Torch moments, rather than religiously follow Hickman’s FF.
But enough with the complaints, because two issues in, I’m getting the sense that Wells truly is a writer who gets “it” about Spider-Man. And while these issues read a little too briskly for the $3.99 price tag, I’m enjoying the fact that I can read about Spidey and some other heroes and villains in the Marvel universe without it feeling like I’m reading some alternative universe where my favorite comic book character is devoid of all personality and uniqueness.
All images from Avenging Spider-Man #2: Zeb Wells, Joe Maduriera & Ferran Daniel
I’m enjoying this series as well. You bring up an interesting point about Spidey’s role in the Marvel Universe — it really does feel like it’s been a long time since he’s been depicted as 100% “in the right” outside of his own title. If the MU has a “main character” (and it’s certainly debatable whether it does), there’s little question in my mind that it would be Peter Parker, and it’s nice to see him actually treated as such for the first time in a while, rather than as the weirdo cracking jokes in the corner while others (Captain America, Iron Man, etc.) make all the big decisions.