Parker Luck Returns in The Amazing Spider-Man 789

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 789

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.

Empanadas for life!

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?


7 comments on “Parker Luck Returns in The Amazing Spider-Man 789

  1. If I was going to give a platonic public perception of Spiderman, I’d say steadily increasing. At the start, it was terrible. But as he’s grown older and become more of an institution, he’s become more popular as people realise who he is. After almost fifteen years as an Avenger, it is hard to say that the old Public Menace reputation really fits. When he was an unknown quantity, Jameson’s tabloid crusade makes sense. But it is much harder to see the Spiderman who has saved the world multiple times and stood side by side with the greatest heroes having the reputation he used to have. So these days, the platonic public perception of Spiderman is positive.

    Also, damn I love just how much literally everyone at Marvel finds ways to get that shirt into comics. It is turning up everywhere and it is brilliant

    • Has he been on the Avengers for 15 years in-universe? I’ll admit I’m no expert on how “Marvel Time” works, but I guess I thought Peter was somewhere in his twenties, and hadn’t been superheroing for more than a decade. In that way, his tenure on the Avengers might be much, much shorter, such that he’d still be seen as kind of a probationary upstart. And whatever shift in public perception that move has brought would be relatively recent, compared to mostly negative press for the majority Spider-Man’s existence.

      • Not in universe (there is no real way that Marvel Time works. Nico Minoru in Runaways has aged two years in the time it took for Kate Bishop to age three or four years). The way I usually look at comic book time is quite mythic and can’t be broken done to numbers, but if I was to formalise an approach, I would weight time by how recent the story is. So the more recent a story is, the more time that it gets

        To give some numbers (naturally, there are no real numbers, but to give an example), I’d give the latest decade of Marvel’s output three or four years, and the the decade before a single year. And then the decade before that half a year (A key part of this approach is the idea that any story people don’t remember is treated as not canon. So, my vision of early Spiderman history would be a quick sprint through his greatest hits, while Dan Slott’s decade of Spiderman stuff takes up a couple of years of real time.)

        If you try and say that it has been a decade since the Fantastic Four got their powers, one year in the Marvel Universe is such a large amount of content, that things get too packed. So it is much easier to throw out the forgotten stuff, and weight everything so that the book you are currently reading has the time required to make sense, and everything before it somehow fits in, even if it requires fudging the dates of those stories.

        So yeah, I think any idea that Peter is a probationary member of the Avengers doesn’t make sense when he has been part of four of the last five Avengers rosters. He hasn’t been treated as new for some time, and Avengers duties have been part of his normal status quo for 15 years. He’s been an AVenger long before I even started reading superhero comics.

        It doesn’t make logical sense, but emotionally and mythically, a big part of Peter’s adult life is being an Avenger. Treating it as a recent event instead of his long term status quo is wrong.

        And so, I think it is fair to say that being an Avenger has had a noticeable positive impact on his reputation. As has the fact that despite the media’s negative coverage, Peter has always been a hero of the people and built up his reputation the hard way. There is a reason I said steadily increasing. It started as trash, but as he grew up, built his own reputation and moved into higher status positions, he’s managed to fight back and justify why he’s a hero, despite Jameson

        • It’s interesting, I guess I have the same attitude with external series as I do with older stories. That is, I’m not sure a character’s presence in a team book should really influence our reading of their solo series. Like, sure, if you pick up the Avengers, being an Avenger must make up a significant portion of Spider-Man’s time in-costume, but if you just read Amazing Spider-Man, you might not even be aware that Spider-Man is an Avenger. I personally tend to ignore team books when trying to square an individual’s continuity, mostly because it’s just about impossible to do otherwise. In that way, while I recognize that Thor is a member of the Avengers and Batman is a member of the Justice League, I mostly think of those organizations as being kind of an afterthought in their lives, (especially as I’m far more likely to read their solo series than the big team book).

        • Honestly, I agree with all of that, though I’d also say the inverse applies (the Peter of AVengers is so busy dealing with world ending crises, that the chance to do solo adventures are an afterthought. The Batman of Justice League patrols Gotham when he can, but is very, very busy)

          But even if you minimise those elements, they are still true. Hell, Slott has actually dedicated issues to Peter being in the Fantastic Four/Future Foundation. And I think the Ends of Earth storyline had him being an Avenger. And didn’t you guys mention him being summmoned to DC for Secret Empire? And that’s ignoring smaller referencing, like how Aaron is starting to mention Jane Foster and Sam Wilson’s relationship in his own work.

          So yeah, Slott’s Peter is an Avenger, even if it is referenced rarely and Slott’s Peter doesn’t doesn’t suit up for Avengers missions to anywhere near the level you would expect from reading the actual Avengers books.

          And anyway, you mentioned platonic public perception. Quite specifically, Peter Parker as a general status quo, ignoring specific storyline, writer or book. And part of that generic Peter Parker is being an Avenger. The generic Peter is an Avenger, even if Slott’s isn’t

        • I guess that’s the question: is the public perception of Spider-Man in The Avengers the same as the public perception of Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man (recognizing that it might be tweaked in either to suit a given storyline)?

        • It isn’t, but I think if you weigh his Avengers rep bonus low, current Spidey has done a good enough job being a hero of the people that despite the media, people see him as the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman

          He’s grown up, and he isn’t the idiot teenager any more. He’s paid his dues and shown people who he really is. Generally, they like him

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