by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Here’s a question: What would you say is the platonic public perception of Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe? Never mind the exceptional circumstances of specific story arcs, do we imagine in general that the public sees Spider-Man as a hero, or do we think J. Jonah Jameson’s one-man crusade against him has influenced public opinion? I suppose I’ve always seen him as misunderstood by the general public, but his interactions with individual New Yorkers always seemed positive — there’s not a whole lot of ambiguity when you see him rescuing babies from burning buildings. Maybe it speaks to just how street-level Spider-Man has traditionally been that his sphere of personal influence would be small, but it sure seems like the citizens of Spider-Man’s New York are on the whole easily swayed by the media they consume. That’s probably an evergreen theme, but it’s one that feels particularly relevant in our modern political climate, and one that comes back in a decidedly unexpected way in Amazing Spider-Man 789.
This time, it’s Peter Parker that’s under public scrutiny (thanks in no small part to the Daily Bugle). It’s an unusual position for him to be in, but more importantly, it’s one that makes him less immune to the criticism. It’s one thing to be called a menace when he suits up (and again, most people who see him in action seem to get it), but it’s quite another to be hit with that criticism every time he shows his face. What’s worse, this time the criticism isn’t exactly misguided. I mean, nobody understands all of the factors that went into the decision to tear down Parker Industries, but they’ve got the consequences more or less nailed down: lots of employees are out of work, investors are out of money, and customers are out of data. Fortunately, Peter can escape the criticisms leveled against him the same way he always has: through the good deeds performed by Spider-Man.
Writer Dan Slott picks an appropriately modest crime for Spidey to thwart — a hold-up of a food truck — reconnecting him with the people of New York. And it took some doing; true to form, these citizens were convinced Spider-Man was a heartless opportunist before he went the extra mile to keep that food truck in one piece. He cares about the little guy, after all, so he gets a hearty round of chanting his name.
It’s not quite a flip of the script — typically, Peter’s PR is almost as bad as Spidey’s (think of all those dinners he’s missed!) — but it’s certainly an unexpected dynamic that promises to find new ground using many of the same elements. That is, of course, Slott’s forte, but he’s aided in that effort by artist Stuart Immonen, who is just as handy with Peter’s sulking as he is with the wide-screen action beats. Heck, he’s even got a knack for physical humor, which actually had me laughing out loud at the start of the issue. Disheveled, couch-surfing Peter Parker wearing Bobbi’s famous “Ask me about my feminist agenda” t-shirt? That’s a picture worth well more than a thousand words, but I’ll reserve them for the comments.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?