Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man has been a solid addition to the Spider-Family franchise. Writer Chip Zdarsky has tapped into what makes Spider-Man such a fun character with how he interacts with his supporting cast in and out of the mask. Bringing in Peter Parker’s questionable sister Teresa Parker into this first story arc has been a big curveball for our favorite web-slinger. Teresa’s return has given not only Spider-Man but also Peter a big target on his back as SHIELD is clearly still after Teresa for what she has done in the past. Adding to the problems is how J. Jonah Jameson is closely following the shady story around Teresa’s backstory. Will JJJ uncover the truth? Or can Peter help save his sister from a life on the run, or worse serious SHIELD jail time? Let’s find out with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Michael Walsh
Colorist: Ian Herring
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: J. Jonah Jameson finishes preparing a lasagna and sits down for dinner with Spider-Man. Spider-Man asks for the information Jonah has on Teresa Durand (Parker). Jonah reminds Spider-Man that he was promised an exclusive one hour interview for the information. Spider-Man thinks it is a waste of time and gets up to leave.
Jonah stops Spider-Man and reveals that all he knows is that Teresa is an ex-SHIELD agent who stole classified information to defeat a number of super-heroes and -villains. He goes on to say that during his investigation that he found out about the Tinkerer, who supplied villains with tech, and his brother The Mason, who offered supplies to super-heroes.
Spider-Man mentions he knows about both and that Mason’s lab was destroyed by the Tinkerer. Jonah mentions how odd that is and that the Tinkerer has actually been stealing superhero data from Mason and selling it to SHIELD.
Spider-Man can’t believe he didn’t see it before and gets up to leave to deal with things. Jonah reminds Spider-Man of their deal.
When Spider-Man sits down Jonah directly asks him why he does what he does. After a bit of joking Spider-Man reveals that when he was young someone close to him died because he failed to stop a random act of violence and that motivated him to never let that happen again.
Jonah calls Spider-Man out on his words as he remembers when he first showed up as the “Amazing Spider-Man” and acted like a “masked clown” for TV. As he remembers his wife, Jonah says Spider-Man should’ve stayed on TV because he is just a masked coward.
Spider-Man says he wears a mask to protect his loved ones. Jonah fires back by saying Spider-Man just doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions but he will answer to him as his blog keeps him honest.
Spider-Man gets frustrated and reminds Jonah how he has on multiple occasions tried to kill him. He then goes on to talk about Jonah’s role in creating the Spider-Slayers and Scorpion to name a few that only got in Spider-Man’s efforts to save people.
Jonah fires back by saying he was the one that kept Spider-Man accountable and trying to take off his mask. Spider-Man wonders why that matters.
Jonah reveals that when he was younger his girlfriend at the time told him to stop trying to fight crime through his writing but he did not listen. This led to a criminal in a mask killing his girlfriend. He then brings up how Spider-Man never took responsibility for his actions and continued to be a coward rather than serve people as part of the police or military.
Spider-Man reminds Jonah that when Jonah was mayor rather than trying to help the city and its people he spent most of the city’s money to try to get him.
Spider-Man finally gets tired of talking to Jonah and decides to leave. Before Spider-Man can swing away Jonah reminds him how he did trust Spider-Man for a time and even gave him property in the city only to betray him. Spider-Man reminds Jonah how that wasn’t really him but Doctor Octopus who was controlling his body at the time.
Jonah continues to call Spider-Man a coward. Spider-Man laughs which further angers Jonah for how he continues to laugh and wisecrack his way through life. Spider-Man finally has enough and tells Jonah that Jonah has become blinded by his own vendetta that he forgot to help anyone.
Jonah finally breaks down and admits that he knows deep down that he has nothing and that all his decisions have led him to lose those closest to him, citing recent events as an example.
Feeling bad, Spider-Man tries to cheer Jonah up but Jonah tells him to leave. Rather than leave Spider-Man decides to take off his mask and reveal that he really is Peter Parker, much to Jonah’s shock.
Peter tells Jonah that the reason he is Spider-Man is because of his Uncle Ben and that he hopes revealing his identity will break the cycle they’ve been in since the beginning.
Peter then notices that on Jonah’s laptop there is a headline promoting the interview with Spider-Man on Jonah’s blog. Peter quickly puts on his Spider-Man mask back on and reminds Jonah that he trusted him.
Spider-Man leaves just as the FBI break down Jonah’s door. One of the FBI agents tells her boss that Spider-Man is gone but that “Target 2” should be open to be taken in without resistance.
In an alley Spider-Man finds a spot to change back into his normal clothes. Peter then heads inside his while he thinks about how he will have to speak with Jonah later about everything.
As he goes up to his apartment Peter realizes that the FBI will probably be after his civilian identity as well.
Right outside Peter’s apartment FBI agents surround the area and prepare to arrest Peter. End of issue.
The Good: As a fan who has read countless Spider-Man comics it is hard to be surprised by events in Peter Parker’s life. That may sound a bit jaded but true. But when a Spider-Man comic comes along and delivers such a surprise it is ensured that it will stand out from the pack. That is exactly what Chip Zdarsky does with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 as he delivers a major bombshell that changes the foundation of the character’s status quo.
The antagonistic relationship between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson has become one of the most iconic characteristics of the franchise. What makes the relationship work so well in all forms of media is the fact that on Jonah’s part the reason for his hatred of Spider-Man is clear. That reasoning has always been on making sure there was someone that made Spider-Man accountable for his actions with the public. And since Spider-Man is still one of the superheroes in the Marvel Universe who continues to not reveal who he is behind the mask Jonah’s vendetta against him is amplified.
By putting a spotlight on this Zdarsky is able to show where all the animosity comes from on both ends throughout Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6. Each example Spider-Man and Jonah threw out made this feel more like a debate rather than argument. That is an important part because it was clear that each one was still listening to the other. It made when things devolved to the point that either one would walk out an even bigger moment.
That is exactly what Zdarsky delivered with Spider-Man being the one to remind Jonah that he has allowed his vendetta to cloud his judgement as a journalist and person. Jonah’s final breakdown made good use of the quick panel flashes we got of his deceased girlfriend. Jonah coming to that breaking point made everything we have seen the character go through recently with The Clone Conspiracy hit even harder.
This all built nicely to give Peter a reason to unmask as he realized Jonah needed someone familiar to be there for him. The shock on Jonah’s face as he tried to process the fact that Peter was Spider-Man was priceless. It set things up so that Zdarsky and future Spider-Man writers have a lot of material to write as we see how Jonah and Peter’s relationship evolves from this point.
Making this moment even better is the fact that Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 did not end with Peter revealing he was Spider-Man. That is an important thing that helps separate this moment from what we usually see happen with these type of reveals ending a comic book issue. By giving it those few extra pages Zdarsky was able to give further weight to Peter’s decision to reveal he is Spider-Man to Jonah. And by extension it gave Jonah a greater role in the current storyline involving Teresa Parker since now he is left with a decision of keeping Peter’s secret or detailing the story with the information from SHIELD.
Michael Walsh delivered some solid artwork throughout this issue. Walsh brought a good, old-school looking design with how he drew Spider-Man and Jonah throughout their scenes together. The flashback scenes further added to the old-school design Walsh of the Spider-Man villains.
The Bad: As enjoyable as the story of Spider-Man vs Jonah was it was held back by the fact that it is still part of Teresa Parker storyline. Because as Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 went on it became very easy to forget the actual reason Spider-Man and Jonah had this “interview” in the first place. That does not speak well to the Teresa Parker storyline as it has felt like it was already starting to drag. Now we see how much it is overstaying it’s welcome as a sub-plot to the storyline was already made to be more important the main story of the current arc.
Further hurting the impact of the main story of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 was the timing. As fascinating as the interview the way Zdarsky framed this story made it feel like an epilogue to the ongoing Teresa Parker storyline. And in many ways that is what this issue should’ve been. This is the perfect type of story that could close out a major story arc and lead into the next event for the series.
In not timing this story correctly Zdarsky made it so that Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 will never be an evergreen comic. That is a big miss opportunity for Zdarsky to make a mark on Spider-Man’s history because this is the type of issue that fans remember for a long time. Because by far, Peter revealing his identity to Jonah is one of the biggest moment in Spider-Man’s modern history. And with such a big moment this should be an issue that fans can go back to recommend.
Instead that can’t really happen since it is an issue that is stuck in the middle of an extremely complicated story involved Peter’s possible sister that only hardcore Spider-Man fans would understand. That unfortunate placement not only affects this issue’s story but also further highlights how weak this Teresa storyline has been. That is not a position this series needs so early on into it’s life, especially as Zdarsky is putting a lot of effort into making Teresa a major part of Spider-Man’s history.
Overall: If Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #6 had just stuck to the story told in the first 18 pages it would’ve gone down as one of the most important comics in Spider-Man’s history. The interview between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson was well executed as both characters got all their animosity towards each other off their respective chests. Unfortunately the fantastic story of this issue is dragged down by the fact it takes place in the middle of the Teresa Parker storyline that has outworn its welcome.