by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
Peter spends the majority of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 297 out-smarting, out-punching, and out-maneuvering both the NYPD and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mintz. And he does it all while being underpowered and trying to keep his identity a secret. It’s the kind of Spider-Man story that wordlessly plays in the fantasies of Spider-Man fans — scrape after scrape, close-call after close-call, until he finally escapes. It’s thrilling, wonderful stuff. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert use this issue to set up these thrilling heroics as the stakes of this arc, rather than the actual substance thereof.
That revelation comes around at the end of the issue when Peter willingly gives himself up in order to protect his Aunt May. It ends up being some of Kubert’s least dynamic work in the book: Peter gets out of the car and holds his wrists out for cuffing. There’s drama inherent in the action, but very little… well, very little “action” in the action. Pete saves the day by giving up the bombastic action of the first 15 pages. And while that’s a sacrifice the character is making, it feels more like a sacrifice the readers are making.
And what a sacrifice! Kubert sticks pretty strictly to a six-panel grid for the majority of the issue, breaking out of it only for the most spectacular action beats. Y’know, like Spider-Man tunneling through the floors of the apartment building.
That is maybe more property damage than we’re used to seeing from Spider-Man, but it is undeniably kinetic storytelling. Even hampered with a Spidey-Sense dampener, even muting his own powers, Peter Parker is one of the more reliable vehicles for fun superhero action. Zdarski and Kubert remind us of all of this before letting Pete throw it all away to protect May. Hey, if he’s got to sacrifice something, it may as well be something good.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?