Jul 13, 2017
The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 52 - Peter Parker: Spider-Man - One Small Break, 2002
I really love the Paul Jenkins/Mark Buckingham Spider-Man stories. They were well into their run on Peter Parker when I had my comic store, and I was always happy to read the next adventure of the wall-crawler. I haven't always been a big Spider-Man fan. He's not one of those superheroes who really spoke to me, though as a geeky, unpopular kid in high school, you'd think he would have. I occasionally see Peter Parker as a bit of a whiner, though. I got a lot of flack in high school for how I looked and who I was, but I never really wanted to read about someone else complaining about it. I wanted to see someone dealing with it and moving on. Add to that the fact that Peter was no longer in high school when I was, and it ends up being a case of wrong place, wrong time.
But Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham made me care about the character again, likely because he was dealing with personal and professional issues in his comic at the same time I was struggling through the same things as a result of opening my own business. Issues 35 and 37 (neither of which are actually in today's collection) are some of my favourite Spider-Man stories ever, with #37 being a particular favourite. Peter has a bad cold and is challenged, during a snowstorm, by the Vulture to a duel. Shenanigans ensue.
Today's graphic novel collects a couple of stories, and, in my not-so-humble opinion, they're not quite as good as the other issues I've mentioned. The characterization is still there (and I really think there's an excellent case to be made for Peter Parker suffering from clinical depression, but that's another post), as is the action and of course the art. But the heart of what I love about this creative team's tenure on the book is the way they portray Spider-Man as being someone that all of us could potentially be. He really is the everyMAN (in capitals because the sexism is right there in the name) superhero. Issue #35 tells of a young African-American child who envisions Spider-Man as a Black person, just like him. It raises interesting questions about the superheroes who wear full cover and those whose skin you can actually see. By covering as many marks of physicality as possible, does a superhero become more mythically representative of the culture they embody?