Credits: Peter David (writer), Mike Harris (penciler), Kyle Baker (inker), Phil Felix (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Spider-Man slows down a semi-truck with his web-line before it hits a pedestrian. Some of the bystanders believe Spider-Man actually caused the accident, which is the angle the media exploits. Jonah Jameson pays for the pedestrian’s hospital bills, not knowing that he is actually a con artist who ran into traffic when he saw Spider-Man overhead. Spider-Man, frustrated with the public backlash, breaks into Jameson’s office and threatens him. After Jonah makes him realize he is acting like a menace, he leaves. When Robbie Robertson tells Jonah that the “victim” is actually a criminal, Jonah chooses to run the truth rather than save face.
The Subplots: None.
Review: David Michelinie is announced as the new writer in the letters page, so this is the last Peter David fill-in for a while. J. Jonah Jameson’s characterization has been all over the place over the years, and there have been a few stories that try to make him less cartoonish. This succeeds in adding some depth, but it also attempts to rationalize his various portrayals. I think the accepted characterization of Jameson now is that he is a credible newspaperman with a specific blind spot that involves Spider-Man, which is the angle David takes. After he pushes Spider-Man too far, Jameson has to talk him off the ledge. Jameson doesn’t take any joy in seeing Spider-Man driven to the brink; he doesn’t seem to know what to think about his actions. As Jameson puts it, either Spider-Man really is a menace, or Jameson has been able to convince him that he is one. Spider-Man leaves, unwilling to prove Jameson right. After Jonah agrees to run the true story behind the pedestrian, admitting he was duped into paying for a con artist’s hospital bill, he wonders if Spider-Man will ever realize that he is a true journalist. For a brief moment, he admits that maybe they’re both wrong about each other.
It’s a great issue, and I wonder if it’s been lost to time because of where it ran. Not only is this running in the third Spider-Man book, but it’s a fill-in in the middle of what seems to be a run of fill-ins. Why would Wizard continually praise the old Amazing fill-in, written by Peter David, about Spidey chasing a criminal in suburbia, but not bring this one up? Why wouldn’t this story be included with “Born Again” as one of the greatest J. Jonah Jameson stories? It certainly deserves to be.