Monday, June 4, 2012


Identity Crisis
Written by Michael Jan Friedman

The Plot: After Jonah Jameson casually informs Norman Osborn of the newspaper practice of deep background, Osborn dons his Green Goblin identity and attacks a newspaper’s office. The staff is reluctant to give up its unpublished information on Spider-Man, but only one staff member, a young photographer, is willing to stand up to the Goblin. When Spider-Man eventually makes his appearance, the Goblin realizes he’s exhausted his weaponry and escapes.

Web of Continuity: This story takes place a few weeks prior to Amazing Spider-Man #39.

Review: Perhaps the most memorable installment in the book, Michael Jan Friedman toys with the reader’s expectations and manages to pull off a twist ending that still plays fair with the audience. I don’t want to spoil the ending (although it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out if you read between the lines), so I’ll just say that this is a clever story that’s executed masterfully. It’s also a story that could only be told in the prose format, so Friedman deserves even more credit for taking a format that isn’t exactly suited for the superhero genre and using it to his advantage.

The Doctor’s Dilemma
Written by Danny Fingeroth

The Plot: Dr. Bromwell expresses his concerns to Peter over his job for the Daily Bugle. He offers him a job as a lab assistant, hoping that he can support Aunt May in a safer environment. Meanwhile, a destitute victim of radioactive steroid testing named Walter Cobb becomes the supervillain Impact. Peter is forced to abandon his job and stop Impact during one of his rampages. Spider-Man seeks a peaceful resolution, but Impact’s heart gives out. Later, Aunt May gives her blessings to Peter to work for the Daily Bugle. He apologizes to Dr. Bromwell and leaves the job.

Web of Continuity: This story is set shortly after Amazing Spider-Man #42.

Review: This is more reminiscent of an Untold Tales issue than any other story in the novel. A new villain from the past is introduced (one with sympathetic motives and a simple, old school origin), as the story focuses on a minor supporting cast member who’s never been fleshed out before. And Fingeroth does a fine job transforming Dr. Bromwell into a likeable, believable character. His characterizations of Aunt May and Peter are also faultless, as he addresses a conflict that was often skipped over in the early issues. If Aunt May is so overprotective, why does she accept Peter’s job chasing Spider-Man for the Bugle?

Aunt May’s made it clear that she doesn’t like what he does, but she doesn’t tend to bother him about it. She theorizes in the story that she knows she needs the money, which might’ve influenced her silence. May berates herself for not doing enough to stop Peter after she overhears Dr. Bromwell giving him a lecture on the topic, but later in the story reconciles his job with Uncle Ben’s belief that Peter should be free to make his own decisions. If he thinks he’s doing the right thing, she can’t stand in Peter’s way. The story isn’t entirely clear, but Fingeroth might even be hinting that Aunt May knows that Peter is Spider-Man by this point (remember, this predates the “genetically altered” actress, so the continuity at the time had Aunt May knowing "for years" that Peter was Spider-Man) and is giving him her blessings to keep going if it’s something he feels compelled to do. Peter’s guilt over potentially leaving Aunt May alone or causing her undue worry, and Dr. Bromwell’s anger at Peter for his apparent selfishness, are also well executed.

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