Untold Tales Of Spider-Man #1
Marvel Comics (September, 1995, as reprinted in Spider-Man Family)
“To Serve And Protect?”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Pat Olliffe
INKER: Al Vey, though the Grand Comics Database notes that in issue #3 there was a correction, adding Pam Eklund
COLORIST: Steve Mattsson
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
This series takes place in the early years of Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man, this issue specifically taking place shortly after Amazing Spider-Man #6 according to the Grand Comics Database. Spider-Man gets beaten by a villain called the Scorcher, who is using his fire-shooting suit and his men to steal from high-tech companies, and almost gets further beaten by some of New York’s residents who buy into Jameson’s anti-Spider-Man crusade. Thinking that joining the police would be a benefit to both his reputation and Aunt May’s medical issues Spidey drops in on a Captain George Stacey to talk him into signing him up but since he won’t do so unless Spidey de-masks the hero leaves. He has a second shot at the Scorcher and wins, but the police wanted to find his employer. All Peter ends up with for his troubles is a cold.
What they got right: Scorcher is a decent villain and one I wouldn’t have minded seeing again, though in continuity it would have been years past this series that they would cross paths again. This does reflect early Peter’s issues at the time, like when he tried to join the Fantastic Four for the same reasons, but doesn’t feel like a retread. I’m not really sure how I fell about Stacey showing up this early in Peter’s life as a retcon but it’s nice to see not every cop is buying into Jameson’s garbage. Drawing the characters in a style similar to early Marvel was a nice touch.
What they got wrong: My apologies to Mr. Busiek on this one but I just couldn’t get into this one personally. I think it’s the burnout I have these days on high-school Spidey Stories. I’ve seen so much obsession with teen Spidey that I just want to see Peter’s life advance. Instead things like One More Day show up that regresses everything or how every new movie and series now has to focus on teen Spider-Man (making the video game I can’t play something of a fluke really) and I just can’t get into it. That’s not a critique about the book but how tired I am of early Spidey.
Recommendations: Minus that burnout this is a good series and better than what was being put out in the 90s for old Web-Head. (This is around the Clone Saga time though I don’t remember if this was during it.) For everyone not suffering from teen Spidey overload this is worth looking into.
And that does it for the Spider-Man Family reprints. It’s time to get back to the 2000s…and Bendis’ New Avengers. At least we had a few weeks of Spider-Man done right.