Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man had a good start to the Teresa Parker return storyline. But as the story has progressed the execution has left a lot to be desired when it comes to the story around Teresa. As a character she is starting to become more of a bland secret agent on the run. The only thing that has saved the series so far is the development from Spider-Man’s side as we have seen Peter reveal his secret to J. Jonah Jameson and some fun team-ups with the Avengers. Now as we hit the “landmark” 300th issue of Spectacular Spider-Man this could be the perfect time to wrap things up as we head into the next phase of the series. Let’s see if that is the case with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Adam Kubert and Juan Frigeri (“Showdown” Main Story); Goran Parlov and Giada Marchisio (“The Canary” Back-Up Story)
Colorist: Jason Keith
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Pinned down and surrounded by villains Spider-Man is about to be killed by Shocker but is saved by Hawkeye and Human Torch. Black Panther, without his gear, joins in and helps free Spider-Man from the Hero-Slayer’s grasp.
Seeing Ironheart still out of commission Spider-Man saves her from being killed by Whiplash. He then takes her inside a building and helps her get out of the Ironheart armor before she suffocated.
They then talk about figuring out how the Tinkerer Phones are helping the villains. Spider-Man realizes that Mason and the Tinkerer have been working together. He tries to call Teresa but can’t get a hold of her. Riri adjusts Spider-Man’s phone so he can trace Teresa. Riri puts on her Ironheart Gauntlets on and tells Spider-Man to go save Teresa while she backs up the others. Spider-Man agrees and tells her that she is a real hero.
Out on the streets Falcon and Hawkeye get cornered by Shocker. Riri shows up and blasts Shocker away before he strikes the others.
At Tinkerer’s secret lab Teresa is shocked to see Mason and Tinkerer working together, with J Jonah Jameson and Betty in the former’s grasp.
Agent Mintz suddenly shows up with other SHIELD agents to arrest Tinkerer and Teresa. Tinkerer quickly gets into Mason’s robot body. Tinkerer then transforms the Mason robot into a hulking mech that takes out most of Mintz’s agents. At the same time Jonah helps free Teresa from her confinement.
Spider-Man shows up and starts fighting the Tinkerer’s mech. As that fight happens Teresa tries to fight Mintz but is quickly overpowered. Betty and Jonah work to destroy the Tinkerer’s lab but are stopped by the SHIELD agents.
Spider-Man is able to break into the core of the mech. Tinkerer tells Spider-Man that Teresa’s data was just a back up plan for the true end of the world he is about to bring on. Tinkerer is suddenly surrounded by energy, forcing Spider-Man to let go of the villain, and he flies away.
Ironheart, now back in her full armor, flies in and is able to capture Tinkerer before he escapes. Spider-Man thanks Ironheart for the back-up.
Mintz, with Jonah, Teresa and Betty arrested, tells Spider-Man to stand down. Instead Spider-Man webs Mintz hands up and frees Teresa and the others. Betty reveals she recorded everything Mintz said he was doing to help Tinkerer. The Avengers arrest Mintz even though he tries to say he is above the law.
Suddenly a giant airship appears in the sky and several mechs start descending on the city. When Falcon flies up to scope things out he is shot down by one of the mechs but is saved by Teresa.
Tinkerer reveals that the mechs are evaluating the world to prepare for a culling. Mintz then speaks up to reveal he has been working with Tinkerer to neutralize all super-powered threats. Mintz then says that nothing matters anymore but Spider-Man asks what he means by all this. Mintz mentions that he had his agents raid Tinkerer’s labs and that there may be something their to stop what is coming.
At Tinkerer’s place, Spider-Man and the Avengers discover that the mechs above the city are alien invaders that are a collective known as Vedomi who have unique artificial intelligence. Spider-Man discovers that Tinkerer encountered one of the Vedomi scouts and kept them from invading Earth.
Spider-Man goes to question why Tinkerer is suddenly happy Vedomi is invading them now after he stopped them earlier. Tinkerer reveals that he became friends with the Vedomi but the scout he found was destroyed along with his lab by a disgruntled villain. Because of that Tinkerer decided to create a new tipping point that would attract the Vedomi to invade. Spider-Man realizes that the tipping point Tinkerer is talking about is the OS on the phones he created. Tinkerer laughs and says he may help Vedomi show everyone mercy.
On the rooftop Jonah, Teresa and Human Torch want to do something. While they talk Jonah and Human Torch realize that they both know Spider-Man’s true identity.
Spider-Man shows up and says Tinkerer previously had a way to stop the Vedomi but it was burnt down in a fire.
An old Doctor Doom bots shows up to declare its take over but is quickly shot down by the real Dr. Doom. While Human Torch is hesitant to work with Doom, Spider-Man says they don’t have a choice. Spider-Man asks Doom if he still has his time machine.
Doom takes Human Torch, Spider-Man, Teresa and Jonah to his base and goes over the rules of time travel. Suddenly some Vedomi attack the base and knock Jonah, Spider-Man and Teresa into the time machine. The time machine activates with the three in it. Doom takes Human Torch outside just as his base is destroyed by the Vedomi.
Outside Doom tells Human Torch that while Spider-Man successfully traveled to the past it is not their biggest problem. End of main story.
The Good: You know a story has outstayed its welcome when there is a clear jump the shark moment that happens to keep it going. That is exactly what happens with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 as Chip Zdarsky introduces time travel in the final minute. This last minute addition just leaves you scratching your head as it was done to extend a story that should long be over. This story extension does nothing to make Teresa Parker, the person responsible for this story taking place, a more compelling character.
The one positive I will give Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 is the way Zdarsky continues to write our lead character in a smart, witty way. Zdarsky has a clear understanding of what makes Spider-Man such a fun character to read about. His normal banter gives Zdarsky a lot of material to work with. At the same time Zdarsky is able to portray Spider-Man as a veteran superhero who holds some respect with his peers and the younger generation. This is something that is most clear with Spider-Man’s interaction with Ironheart. With Ironheart still being a newbie it was refreshing to see how she is still getting used to learning what it means to be a superhero. Spider-Man being there to motivate her to act even when her Ironheart armor wasn’t working made both character look strong.
The artwork for the main story by Adam Kubert and Juan Frigeri was solid throughout. The style continues to match the superhero aesthetic that Kubert has created for Spectacular Spider-Man throughout his run on this series. With Spider-Man and the Avengers being the main focus Kubert, along with Frigeri later in the issue, nailed the constant sense of motion as characters went from scene to scene.
And while the back-up story didn’t grab me Goran Parlov and Giada Marchisio provided artwork that showed they would do a great job on a Black Cat one-shot or mini-series. They have a great look that reminds you of when Black Cat was first introduced.
The Bad: With such a big issue like Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 where Zdarsky is given a greater page count this would’ve been the perfect chance to wrap up the Teresa Parker storyline. After nine chapters of this story there was already a feeling that Teresa Parker’s story needed to be wrapped up so we could move on to other possible Spider-Man stories Zdarsky could tell. The length of this story was not doing Teresa Parker any favor as all interesting angles of her current predicament were explored in the first half of this arc. And now Zdarsky made things much worse by introducing the worst plot device to extend a story possible in the form of time travel.
While time travel isn’t necessarily the worst plot device imaginable it does not make sense that we get introduced to this so late in the game for Zdarsky’s first Spectacular Spider-Man story arc. Up until this point Zdarsky has been telling a story that at its core is a spy story involving Teresa Parker being on the run from SHIELD and other government agencies. That core story along with Tinkerer trying to gain what information she controls is more than enough to tell a compelling story. Time travel should’ve never factored into this whatsoever.
The way Zdarsky introduces time travel into the story through an alien invasion completely makes you forget what started this entire story for Spider-Man and the Avengers. From the moment that the new alien forces, Vedomi, are introduced there was a general feeling that Zdarsky was just looking to extend a story that should long be over. There is such a big disconnect between what started it all, Teresa Parker, and were we are now with the Vedomi. Even when Zdarsky tries to connect it to Agent Mintz the connection falls flat on its face. It makes you wonder if there was even a plan in place for where the Teresa Parker story was going or if everything that has happened up to this point has just been a case of randomly throwing darts at an idea board.
This also hurts Tinkerer as a villain as well. It is clear that Zdarsky’s intention with the last minute Vedomi plotline was to give Tinkerer some added depth. While that was the intention the execution left a lot to be desired. Instead it is just another case of trying to make a villain sympathetic when he or she did not need to be. Zdarsky should’ve stuck with Tinkerer just being an evil genius who cornered all the heroes thanks to all his ideas. We already saw how he was able to twist and manipulate his way into capturing Teresa Parker and, by doing so, possibly gaining power over all the superheroes. That in itself was a great way to show Tinkerer can be threat whenever he does show up. It also made how the Avengers caught him in the even sweeter.
Unfortunately Zdarsky went a completely different route with Tinkerer as he tried to give the villain some depth with the flashback of his previously unknown meeting with the Vedomi. While it may make him look more sympathetic the flashback just drove home how last minute the Vedomi’s introduction was. There was no clear connection to the Tinkerer’s plans for Teresa Parker and the Vedomi. Additionally Zdarsky telegraphed the time travel story to set up Spider-Man, Jonah and Teresa to be the ones responsible for destroying the Tinkerer’s lab that held the original Vedomi.
This also hurts any sort of development Zdarsky tried to execute with the Vedomi’s first appearance. As a new set of characters the Vedomi would’ve been much better off if they were introduced in their own arc. At least then Zdarsky could’ve dedicated time to why they came to Earth. Instead Zdarsky completely rushes their motivation all to force Spider-Man to do some unnecessary time traveling.
The failed execution on the villains side of the story did further damage to the Teresa Parker part of the story. Any sort of emotional connection we had to Peter trying to save his possible sister from being captured and experimented has been thrown out the window. The lack of attention to this major part of the story has been groan inducing as we see this story stretched to its breaking point. And with Tinkerer’s revelation, Vendomi introduction and time travel all introduced we seem to beyond point already.
This does nothing to help make Teresa a character who we get behind. In the last few issues alone we have seen Zdarsky push Teresa’s character more into the background as a supporting player. With Teresa being the main driving force for everything that has happened to Spider-Man this should’ve never happened. It just speaks to how we need a resolution to Teresa’s arc as quickly as possible. If not any sort of interest in having Teresa around after this arc will vanish in the minds of fans, if it has not already.
Further adding to the disappointment of Spectacular Spider-Man #300 was the one-note character that Agent Mintz turned out to be. Instead of trying to do something different with Agent Mintz we just saw Zdarsky go down the above the law SHIELD agent we are used to seeing. This does nothing for Agent Mintz other than just making the reader hope he just gets locked up and forgotten like countless other out of control secret agents we have seen in the past.
Overall: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 has so many problems that it is hard to find things to enjoy. We are beyond the point that the Teresa Parker storyline has outstayed its welcome. Adding in last minute character development for Tinkerer and a new threat in the form of the Vedomi did nothing to help Chip Zdarsky story. Now to see it extended by using time travel it is extremely hard to recommend Spectacular Spider-Man to anyone. The faster this storyline is ended the better it will be for everyone involved.