Cover Price: $.60
Value: $9 (Near Mint-Mint)
"Options!" - 22 Pages
Hoo-boy! Is Peter Parker in trouble now! As
#242 ended, Amy Powell, the girlfriend of Daily Bugle photographer Lance
Bannon, had barged into Peter's apartment and was making a major play for the
reluctant Mr. Parker. But just as Amy was making her move (and covering Peter
with red lipstick kisses), who enters the apartment but Peter's ex-girlfriend,
Mary Jane Watson! Face it, Tiger - you're in big trouble! At this moment, Peter
probably would rather be squaring off with Doctor Octopus. Amy leaves and Peter
explains the situation. Amy was only making a play for Peter to make Lance
jealous. Peter was trying to smooth things out between them. "I see you didn't
back out quite fast enough," Mary Jane says, wiping the lipstick from Peter's
face. She dropped by to tell Peter that she is back in town, although, much to
Peter's regret, she offers no signs that she is willing to resume their romance.
From there, Peter (as Spider-Man) heads over to the Empire State University
campus. He first stops by the office of Dr. Curt Connors, to whom he gives a
piece of the android that attacked in in the previous issue. We know that the
android was sent by the Mad Thinker, one of the Fantastic Four's toughest foes,
but Spider-Man doesn't know that yet. Dr. Conners can't tell Spider-Man where
the android came from, but he can say, "this contains some of the most complex
organo-metallic compounds I've ever seen!"
At that point, Dr. Sloan, the Dean of the graduate science program and Peter Parker's graduate advisor, comes in to the office carrying a stack of final exams. He's taken aback by Spider-Man hanging from the ceiling, although, as Spider-Man says, they have met (in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #36). Spidey is more interested in one of the exam papers Dr. Sloan is carrying. Peter has made an "A" on his final exam, meaning he passed the course. He gives the grumpy Dr. Sloan a kiss on the forehead before cart wheeling out the window. "I passed! I passed!! I passed!!!" he yells to the world. "I haven't felt so jolly since J. Jonah Jameson sat down on his cigar!" he thinks. But his glee is tempered by the realization that his second-year studies will take even more of his time -- which means less time to devote to being Spider-Man.
At that point, he hears a TV broadcast that some terrorists have taken hostages at Our Lady of Grace cathedral. Spider-Man swings to the rescue. One by one, he takes out the terrorists. "The world is screwed up enough as it is! There's no cause that justifies screwing it up more!" he says as he punches out their leader. The hostages, including a priest and nun, cheer him and give Spider-Man their gratitude. It's not the normal reaction people have to Spider-Man, but it makes him feel really good. He also managed to get some great photos with his automatic camera that he's able to sell to the Daily Bugle.
From there, Spider-Man heads over to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to check in on his current girlfriend, the Black Cat, who was badly injured by Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #76. However, she's on the mend and feels well enough to give Spidey a big kiss. However, he can't get his mind off of Mary Jane. "This is crazy! I have to put Mary Jane out of my mind...her and Gwen and all the rest! The Black Cat is the one who matters now!" he thinks. Good luck with that one, Pete. As an aside, between the Black Cat, Mary Jane Watson and Amy Powell, ol' Peter Parker's love life is in warp drive at this point!
But despite how well things are going, Peter wonders how he can juggle everything: his life as Spider-Man, paying the bills as a photographer, his social life. The next day, Peter makes a monumental decision -- he quits school. For the first time since Peter Parker was introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15, he no longer is a student.
This was a well-written issue and the kind we need every once in a while. It's a story where Spider-Man doesn't have to fight a major bad guy or solve a major crisis. Instead, we get a great deal of insight into the man underneath the mask, Peter Parker.
However, in hindsight, I believe taking Peter out of school was a major mistake - the only real mistake Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. made in their otherwise classic run on Amazing Spider-Man. Peter Parker had always been a student - he never had been a full-fledged "grown up." Taking him out of school seemingly aged the character overnight -- and that's not a good thing. Spider-Man always worked best as a youthful character. It's okay for a 20-year-old student's life to be in shambles; we all were a bit lost at that time. It's part of growing up. But when a 30-year-old man has the same problems, those problems no longer are endearing - they are a sign he's a loser. Peter Parker should never be an independent adult for that reason; he should always remain a student.
Next issue: The time for introspection is over -- 'cause the Hobgoblin is back!
Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.
Also This Month: