Spider-Man’s relationship with former Daily Bugle publisher/current New York City Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, has always been a complicated one, in large part because Spidey’s kind and forgiving nature has always prevailed over more basic human nature, which drives us to want to vanquish and destroy our greatest enemies at all costs. Yes, Jonah is just a puny, blustery man who has no super powers to speak of and could probably be floored by one well-placed punch to the jaw, but no character has wreaked more havoc and has caused more damage to Spider-Man over the course of his career than JJJ.
The list of offenses that can be attributed to Jameson against Spider-Man is lengthy. There’s libel and slander for all of the newspaper articles and headlines he’s manufactured; attempted murder for hiring the likes of the Scorpion and Alistar Smythe’s Spider Slayer’s to capture and feasibly “kill” Spider-Man; a case could be made for stalking, or at the bare minimum entrapment for his constant surveillance of Spidey after becoming Mayor. But what has added to Jonah’s legacy as a Spider-Man antagonist is the fact that he’s successfully been able to convince the general public that Spidey is in fact a menace and a villain masquerading as some kind of vigilante hero.
And yet, when Jonah is in trouble, Spider-Man is always there to defend him, whether its when he’s being held captive by the Kingpin in the classic “Spider-Man No More” arc from ASM #50-#52, or when he’s been kidnapped by a few dozen underground creatures as we see in the first few issues of this new Avenging Spider-Man series.
And while I understand that the premise of Spidey defending Jonah despite the bad blood between the two is nothing new to the world of Spider-Man comics, there was a scene in Avenging Spider-Man #3 which caught my eye because I can’t recall an exchange between Spidey and JJJ quite so frank as when he told New York’s Mayor that he’s going to keep saving his behind, no matter how much trash he continues to talk about the heroic wall crawler. It was probably the most simplistic, straight-forward description of the Spider-Man/Jameson dynamic I’ve ever seen written, and while I’m not so certain that it warrants any effusive praise from me, it doesn’t mean I still didn’t find it interesting.
Still, there’s a certain shallowness with Avenging Spider-Man through its first three issues that I’m having a hard time moving past. Don’t get me wrong, I think, in concept, a Marvel Team-Up style comic book series dedicated solely to Spider-Man’s relationship with the Avengers super team, could provide fodder for a number of good stories. But outside of finally giving Spider-Man a voice and a personality as part of the Avengers, there hasn’t been a terrible lot of substance behind these issues thus far and I’m not entirely confident that I should expect anything different a few issues from now when this series has better footing underneath it.
As a result, it’s scenes like the aforementioned one between Spider-Man and Jonah that keep my interest piqued – moreso for their simplicity and their approach in trying to sell the Spidey character to the general comic book reading public, rather than for any deeper meaning that could be applied to the Spider-Man character and his relationships to others in his universe.
All images from Avenging Spider-Man #3: Zeb Wells, Joe Maduerira & Ferran Daniel