Untold Tales Of Spider-Man #2
Marvel Comics (October, 1995, as reprinted in Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends)
“Castles In The Air”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Pat Olliffe
INKERS: Al Vey & Pam Eklund
COLORIST: Steve Mattsson
LETTERING: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
A bat-like creature they’re calling Batwing has been attacking rooftop diners, stealing their food. After embarrassing one Randolph Cherryh, he puts out a reward for the creature’s capture, which Spider-Man could really use. However, Cherryh wants to kill the monster, which doesn’t sit well with Spidey even before he learns Batwing is really a mutated boy rejected by his mother and his father being killed before the kid was mutated. He tries to help the boy but when he learns Spidey was initially after the reward he doesn’t trust him and runs off. Cherryh blames Spidey and declared he will use his position as councilman to make things even harder on the wall-crawler. Meanwhile, Peter deals with a bully who steals his math notes. Pete learns the bully is being beat up by his father (upset that Tiny may get tossed off of the team for his poor grades) while trying to steal the notes back and decides the right thing to do would be to at least attempt to help Tiny with his math.
What they got right: If there’s a theme to Spider-Man it’s not the “Parker luck” nonsense but that classic line at the end of his first story that’s become so famous: with great power there must also come great responsibility. While Peter would love to give his aunt a better life and get away from a school where he gets bullied all of the time. However, when he learns Batwing’s backstory he puts protecting him above the money. In the same vein he has the power to help Tiny at least get a little less abused by his dad and goes to help. It shows that Peter has aspirational aspects while being relatable. In and out of costume Peter’s a good kid and it’s great to see.
What they got wrong: Batwing is a bit too close to Man-Bat in both design and origins (less so in origin since he was a victim of pollution while awaiting rescue rather than experimenting on himself but National sued over Captain Marvel/Shazam! for less connection). He would later join the Avengers Initiative, working out of my home turf of Connecticut after making more appearances in this series, so I’m surprised DC didn’t care…though they did swipe the name for one of their Batman Incorporated knockoff Batmen.
Recommendation: A really good classic Spidey story even though it’s a flashback series. Worth picking up.