Spider-Man is Finally Funny Again in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298

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?


3 comments on “Spider-Man is Finally Funny Again in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298

  1. Yeah… I don’t agree with any of this. It’s a lot of things. And it’s hard to get in to really, because nobody agrees with me, but… Spider-Man does not work best as a comedy. Just like the comic is not best with Pete as a teenager.

    And Jameson is a super-villain. He’s a morally reprehensible person who (I believe) is Spider-Man’s greatest, longest lasting, and most dangerous foe. Jameson was Steve Bannon 40 years before Bannon.

    I’ve liked the stories in the new Spectacular, and I love Chip Zdarsky, but I find all of the voices in this comic off. It’s hard for me to read. I liked this comic, I just didn’t much like it as a Spider-Man comic, because this really doesn’t feel like Spidey to me. (I really struggled with Jonah and Spidey’s dialogue in issue 6. It really felt unnatural to me).

    I like this comic, I love the art, I’m just not feeling the humor like others are I guess.

    • I’m interested, what do you think about Jameson in the Ultimate Universe? Primarily, what happens circa-Ultimatum where he realises that Spiderman is a hero and he realises Peter is Spiderman? Do you have the same problem, or is the fact that Ultimate Jameson is a different character with a different history change things?

      I would never compare Jameson to Bannon (Bannon created campaigns to indoctrinate people in the Alt-Right and knowingly defends people he accepts are paedophiles and sexual harassers. When people call Bannon a Nazi, they aren’t wrong), but I can see where you’d make the comparison. Jameson certainly was one of the biggest antagonists in the Spiderman books. But I also think that the fact that he isn’t a supervillain (and that he has such a permanent place in Peter’s supporting cast) means that he gets to grow and develop and find complexities, that can naturally lead to things like growing a soul. People want to do something with him, and so they do, until he ends up being a character that has much more to him than hatred.

      It reminds me of just how evil Loki was, when I read Simonson’s run. Which is a far cry to what you can say today. And you could say the same about Loki with respect to Thor that you just did with Jameson.

      If Jameson is Spider-Man’s greatest, longest lasting, and most dangerous foe, do you think he can get redemption? What do you think he would need to do, to get that?

      • “Do you have the same problem, or is the fact that Ultimate Jameson is a different character with a different history change things?” – To me, different characters. Ultimate Pete wasn’t 616 Pete, Ultimate Venom wasn’t 616 Venom, Ultimate Jonah wasn’t 616 Jonah – different. Ultimate Jonah had, from the start, something a little softer and more sympathetic.

        I’m not intentionally comparing Jameson to the Nazi side of Bannon (or we’d have seen more Captain America team-ups). I think I’m more talking about the deliberate use of media in a smear campaign that lies and lies and lies to further a social agenda and having the public buy it and act on it. Even the police do. And it affects EVERYTHING that Peter Parker does.

        Can Jameson get redemption? No. Just like Doc Ock couldn’t and Norman Osborne couldn’t. His legacy is half a century of villainy. I think he will be written as being redeemed at some point (if not currently now), but I don’t think any modern action wipes out the previous 50 years.

        That said: You can write a Jameson story about his reformation. But I think it would really require a deft touch and possibly a different comic and I’m not sure what comic. You know, after Marvel Two in One finishes reforming the Fantastic Four, have it be a dual comic: 10 pages of JJJ battling media injustices to atone for his past and 10 pages of Machine Man. Or 20 pages of JJJ teaming up with Machine Man. Either way.

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