I think the cover alone is plenty of explanation as to why I didn’t buy this one. Not only is it not even about Peter Parker or his family, but it’s gonna be DeMatteis getting down into the details of Flash Thompson’s childhood of abuse Yaaaaaay. But I remembered I didn’t have it, and I was doing this dumb blog, so I got it. Now we shall suffer together. Dan Green is back on inks for this one.
Oh, this is funny, this is the totally creepy splash of John Jameson from TAC 248, which came out the month after this. Boy, out of context, that is a weird, weird page.
That is the first jokey reference to The Clone Saga that actually made me laugh, so kudos to that.
More of this kind of thing would’ve been nice in these issues. Just some slice of life with the Parkers before it all went wrong instead of setting up various modern day plots and so on. Next page, our boy is knocked off his feet by one Eugene Thompson rushing by. The aforementioned Mr. Izzo sees it happen and comes out to say how that boy is a menace who steals baseball cards, and tells Peter his name is Eugune Thompson, “but the kids call him Flash.” And as he does, we see Flash run up to a baseball game in the park, force his way onto the field, hit a home run, and start running bases until he sees someone:
All credit where it’s due, Ross seems to be improving on this title. I feel like in the case of him and Joe Bennett, I saw their early, not-ready-for-primetime stuff and avoided them and didn’t see them get better at the time. And good for them. Having to figure it all out in print in front of everybody must be kind of terrifying. Flash’s dad is in a bar, nursing a beer and complaining about how hs nagging wife. The bartender suggest he should go to work, and even offers to pay for his drinks, but Harrison Thompson almost attacks him for daring tell him what to do until Flash runs in.
Yaaaaay, we’re having fun now!
Our boy’s 2nd time being knocked over by Flash in the same day and he still hasn’t actually seen him. Back at home, we meet Harrison’s doting wife, nothing like the battleaxe he described to the bartender, and he’s in self-pity mode, asking his whole family why they do so much for him when he just lets them down, and suggesting to his small children that he should just jump out the window.
This is an unusually nuanced take on a social ill for DeMatteis. One more consecutive page because it seems worth it.
Peter taking a little responsibility for keeping his distance from others is nice. Rather a retcon, but nice. Ben worries he’s making a mistake, and he should really know that by now, one would think. Meanwhile, Flash is terrorizing the neighborhood, stealing comics from Izzo, stealing soda and chips from some other kids, and beating up a kid who objects to him forcing his way into the baseball game again.
Peter sees this and is impressed. He briefly wonders if maybe he could go play, if that kid could teach him to hit, but talks himself out of it and sits back down… until he realizes the ball is coming right at him (Which seems to have taken way too long). He almost catches it, but it slips out of his hand.
Fun. And the fun’s only beginning, as later, Flash creeps back into his house to find his rampaging drunk dad furious. He’s been told about the theft and Izzo’s and says Flash is humiliating him. Flash makes the mistake of telling him he does that himself because he’s a big stupid drunk, and then we get what has to be one of the most tone deaf bits of lettering I have ever seen in my life:
What kind of absolute psychopath puts 60s Batman TV show-style sound effects over hideous child abuse? Someone with the initials “KS” working in Richard Starkings’ weird letterer farm of the era, Comicraft. He got the gig lettering tons of comics and the person actually lettering it would only be credited by their initials, if at all.It just says “Richard Starkings & Comicraft/KS.” What a racket. But, maybe not having your name on this insane, insane choice is a good thing, for once.
What a fun adventure for the readers of Spectacular Spider-Man. I guess people who want, like, an escape from the depressing of the real world in their, you know, stories about guys in tights fighting, would’ve learned to avoid TAC by now. At least this one had some of The Parkers in it. How odd that, presented with an opportunity to explore who their cast was in their youth, one of the monthly Spider-Man titles did a goofy monster story, and the other three wasted this event on bolstering their current storylines or seeding future ones rather than doing anything interesting with Peter, May or Ben. Or even MJ, for that matter, DeMatteis coulda have a field day digging into her dysfunctional family. Why not show us what a day in Peter’s life was like before the spider? Why not dig into the rarely mentioned history of Ben & May before Peter? Why not a tender story of them realizing they have to raise a son they never counted on and rising to the challenge? Sure rather see that than backstory for Don Fortunato or Arthur Stacy, or this depression-fest. Ah, well. One to go. And what could that be? We haven’t gotten to see Untold Tales yet, but it takes place in the past already, what could they do? Something pretty cool, as it turns out.