While Doc Ock was inhabiting Spidey’s body, Marvel decided to appease fans who wanted Peter Parker back with a couple of one-off stories with Peter Parker fully in control of things. The result is this collection of stories that feature Peter Parker front and center as the Amazing Spider-Man.
The first two stories in the collection are the highlight, including one in which Pete must resort to his secret identity and web across town to try and save Aunt May during a blizzard. Along the way, Peter encounters several others who need the help of his famous secret identity and is forced to weigh whether stopping to help them could mean that Aunt May will die because of his delay (a tree broke a window at her house and her power and furnace are out due to the weather). In many ways, this feels like the classic Peter Parker dilemma of who does he feel a “great responsibility” to the most. Combine a great story with some terrific art work (Spidey really stands out against the mostly white background of the blizzard) and you’ve got an intriguing little story that feels like the early days when Smilin’ Stan Lee was writing Spidey stories.
The next story is just as good, looking at just how the various villains Spidey and company go up against get health care and patched up. A black market hospital specializing in the treatment of super villains has opened up and Spidey lands there following a battle in which he gets burns to over 80% of his body. It’s one of those questions that seems so obvious — once someone else has asked it, of course. The big problem I have with this one is that it’s a two-part story and it feels a bit stretched thin by the time we get to the second installment. There’s a lot of your typical Spider-Man trading of punches that help fill out the second installment and after a few pages it begins to wear a bit thin. But again, the art work is good and solid enough and the idea intriguing enough that I give them props for shining a light into an unexplored area of the Spidey universe.
The rest of the stories here aren’t quite up to the standards of these two, though the last one about a young boy who asks himself “What Would Spider-Man Do?” is of particular note. I will warn you that it’s a bit melancholy in tone and a downer to end the book.
But don’t let that put you off this collection. It’s a nice reminder of just what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man.