By David Lapham (writer), Tony Harris (pencils), Jim Clark (inks), J.D. Mettler & Paul Mounts (colors)

Wow, this is the first issue of this mini-series that I actually didn’t hate! We finally get to see more of what will be Peter Parker’s supporting cast and we even get to see a monster or two. The wrestling career is still here, make no mistake, but it finally takes a back seat after the first half of the book (or so). From there, the story centers around Peter’s social life at school, his pursuit of Liz Allen, and how Uncle Ben discovers something awry. We also get our first look at the infamous “burglar”. The scene  as Peter lets him go into the elevator plays out fairly close to what we’ve seen in Amazing Fantasy #15, but David Lapham’s doesn’t disclose how he will play into Uncle Ben’s demise.

As with the previous issues, the wrestling career stuff is just atrocious. Not only is this detailed facet of Spider-Man’s life completely unnecessary, the cast of characters that inhabit this area are completely lame. His manager is a complete bimbo and his promoter seeks nothing but exploitation. Yet, Peter struts around with his cocky attitude and narrative with no regard to anyone but himself. Granted, there was some selfishness involved in the original story by Stan Lee, but this is just too extreme. And while I somewhat enjoyed the latter half of the issue with him working Liz Allen for a date – for her to give him the time of day and actually go to a nightclub with him is completely ridiculous.

Once again, what grounds this issue in “Spidey” reality are Uncle Ben, Aunt May, and J. Jonah Jameson. Lapham writes these characters with their classic characteristics. For someone who becomes so prominent in Peter’s life, it’s weird seeing Aunt May almost being kept in the shadows. I guess Lapham is trying to make this more Uncle Ben’s story. It works, too. I can’t help but feel for the guy.

Tony Harris does more incredible artwork in this issue. It’s, by far, the highlight of this series. He had to be happy to finally get out of the wrestling locker room and draw New York, monsters, and just more Spider-Man-esque stuff. The colors continue to be a big part of this book as well – J.D. Mettler and Paul Mounts create a world rich with color and what can I say? It’s just a feast to the eyes. Story wise, this book passes… barely. Art wise, it’s utterly beautiful. (Grade: C-)

-J. Montes