by Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I know that Dan Slott’s fans are legion, but I’ve gotta say that Chip Zdarsky might be the heir apparent to the Spider-Man mythos. Despite the sometimes too-high concept “data blood” plot, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298 accomplishes something that a lot of other Spider-Man stories don’t: it made me laugh.
Zdarsky’s humor works so well because he takes the material so seriously — that is, at face value. The issue operates in a world where super-powered The Shocker can be intimidated by J. Jonah Jameson by something as simple as the threat of parole violation.
The way that Zdarsky is rehabilitating Jonah as a serious newsman — who now knows Spidey’s secret identity — is one of the best things that has happened to the old curmudgeon in years.
The peak of humor in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298 — “Escape Plans” — comes in the escape plan itself. With some borrowed Ant-Man tech, The Human Torch and Peter’s kind of sister Teresa come to Peter’s rescue, after his recent arrest.
We’ve read plenty of books where the hero thinks of everything and plans ahead, but to miss such an essential detail as say, an extra Ant-Man helmet is simultaneously relatable and comically unbelievable. Zdarsky heightens Johnny Storm’s lack of forethought/doubling down on his mistake by putting on an over-the-top performance as he takes Peter’s place in custody.
Just. So good.
Zdarsky even makes the typically groan-worthy wallcrawler a witty comedian. I don’t need a Tony Stark version of Peter Parker. I like my Peter Parker low status but not pathetic — Chip Zdarsky has given me that.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?