by Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Chip Zdarsky brings his time with Spider-Man to a close as he sends off the ‘ol webhead in a personal manner in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 310. Spider-Man has amazing powers and arguably some of the best villains in the Marvel Universe, but Zdarsky zeroes in on what keeps this character consistently relevant: his humanity.
At first, seeing Zdarsky’s artwork was a little jarring because I associate it with Sex Criminals…but really his emotive character work is to the issue’s benefit. The gist of the issue is that it is interviews with various people who have interacted with Spider-Man, with the occasional “flashbacks” in between.
As you might expect, the interviewees’ opinions on Spider-Man are all across the board: some judgmental, others annoyed, and others in awe and full of respect for him. The three stories that Zdarsky elaborates on in particular show the essence of who Spider-Man is as a character and a hero: selfless, optimistic and…a little irritating.
Honorable and heroic he may be, don’t forget that Spider-Man is also a cheapskate freeloader. He’s the type of guy that you never want to offer up an “any time” IOU to — as a certain hot dog vendor would attest to.
Even though he fights villains with devastating powers and weapons, Spider-Man is also the type of hero who knows the importance of a small gesture. After all, this is a guy who took a sentence his uncle uttered to him one time and transformed it into a mantra. At the end of the issue Zdarsky “pulls back the camera” and shows us the documentarian who decided to make this project in the first place.
It wasn’t a life-changing exchange by any means, but it was nevertheless impactful for the guy.
Of course, the most emotional praise for Spider-Man comes from a mother whose son was murdered. Zdarsky intersperses this particular story throughout the issue, bringing the narrative back to ground after some more humorous exchanges.
We see how Spider-Man took pity on Kyle — a burglary lookout — by sparing him the burden of a criminal record. He even goes on to help secretly tutor the kid every now and then. After the burglars return and kill Kyle, Spider-Man is out for revenge.
I don’t think that it’s a mistake that this confrontation between Spider-Man and Kyle’s killers is eerily reminiscent of when he tracked down Uncle Ben’s killer. The entire sequence of Kyle’s death and Spidey bringing his killers to justice is presented in five pages with absolutely no dialogue. There are no Spider-quips and no monologues — just emotion.
Zdarsky’s final word on Spider-Man (for now) reminds us why we love the character. He’s a mirror of our best and sometimes worst attributes. We strive to not be the freeloader, but instead be the person whose small acts of kindness impact someone else’s life.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?