Thursday, October 2, 2003

Amazing Spider-Man #58 / #499 - A Review

Written by: J Michael Straczynski
Penciled by: John Romita Jr.
Inked by: Scott Hanna
Colored by: Dan Kemp
Lettered by: Randy Gentile
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

SCENE: Peter Parker’s Classroom

Peter: All right, folks. It’s been a great semester and I hope you’ve all enjoyed about learning the wonders of science as I have enjoyed teaching it.

Students: GROAN!

Peter: As a momento of this class, I have bought you all, out of my own pocket, a copy of a book that had a profound impact upon me as a young man. Joey, hand everyone a book out of this box which I have not examined beforehand in order to confirm that my order was right. Random girl, please read the lines on page 19.

Girl: (horrified) As I stealthily snuck into the chicken coop, a strange excitement came through me...

Peter: WHAT? That’s not The Private Joke Files of Stephen Hawkings!

(Peter grabs the book. It is indeed not “The Private Joke Files of Stephen Hawkings” but “Truly Plucked: Memoirs of a Chicken-Lover”.)

Peter: Well, pluck me.

(Everyone laughs at Peter as he runs down the hall to confront the Administrative Assistant From Hell!)

Peter: You screwed up my order! I want my money back.

AAFH: Hmm…. No. Allow me to further insult you, degrade you and engage in behavior that would actually get a person fired, if they didn’t have photos of the principal and one of the cheerleaders engaging in some very interesting “extracurricular activities”. Oh, and allow me to be the first and only person to wish you Happy Birthday, which is also, for reasons that will not be clarified anytime soon, the title of this story.

Peter: I’m too angry to listen to all this exposition! I’m going home!

CUT TO: Aunt May’s House

Peter: (thinking) Wow, that woman is evil. And yet, she remembered my birthday… I had almost forgotten that it was my birthday. Hey, if my birthday comes a few days after the end of school, that must mean I’m a Gemini. That’s the sign for late May/early June. Well, that hardly seems accurate. I mean, sure Geminis are supposed to intellectuals, quick witted and have at least two personalities, but they’re also supposed to be self-absorbed, introverted and flighty.

Aunt May: PETER!

Peter: Auuugh!

Aunt May: What have I told you about having internal monologues at the dinner table?

Peter: Oh, I’m sorry Aunt May. I was just thinking about this evil woman at work and how angry she makes me.

Aunt May: Well, you know that not everybody is as nice and giving as you. And some people’s nature is to cause other people pain. So you really can’t be angry at her for following her nature.

Peter: That’s it? That’s the great sage advice I came here to get?

Aunt May: Alright then. S*** happens. Get over it. Is that philosophical enough for you?

CUT TO: Peter’s Apartment

ENTER: Mary Jane, wearing a smile and not much else.

MJ: Wotcha thinking about?

Peter: Oh, just watching the lightning…. Thinking about how I used to be afraid of it as a kid until I read about all the kinds there are. I can tell what kind of lightning it is by the flash it makes.

MJ: (cozying up) Hmmm… that’s interesting.

Peter: Isn’t it? Like that right there… that’s ball lightning…

MJ: Mmm… you know I love it when you talk like this.

Peter: And that… that’s sheet lightning.

MJ: Mmmmmm… yes. Yes! Talk geeky to me, Tiger!

Peter: And that… that’s red lightning.

MJ: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Tell me what that means, baby!

Peter: It means that I’m once again getting dragged out of bed to go save the world while you wait here, unfulfilled and wait for me to take my time to get back as I get dragged to the gods only know where.

MJ: Funny how I seem to remember one of the major reasons we separated was that you were always doing this…

Peter: Yeah. Well, there’s only one other guy on the planet as flexible as me and Sue Richards has him all tied up.

MJ: Good point…

CUT TO: Times Square. All Hell (or some other dimension) is breaking loose!

Peter: Hey Ben! What’s going on?

The Thing: It’s ‘dem blasted Mindless Ones. Some big portal thingy opened up and des’ guys is pouring out of it. Me, some of da Avengers and one of the X-Men who wuz caught in da middle of clubbin’ are beaten them back until Ol’ Stretch can wire together some doo-hickey to stop dem!

Peter: How come you get all the exposition?

The Thing: How come you’re sticking around and not running back to ya wife, even though the three biggest superhero teams in the city are already here dealing with the crisis that drug you out of bed?

Peter: (posing dramatically) Because I made a promise, years ago… that with my great power would come great respon-

The Thing: Yeah-yeah. I didn’t ask for your origin story! Now, It’s Clobbering time!

(Much Mindless Stone Giant butt-whomping ensues.)

(Peter saves a woman on a ledge. It is the AAFH!)

AAFH: Oh, thank you! You’re my favorite superhero! Can I have your autograph?

Peter: Okay.

(Peter signs a heating duct and then swings back to the fight)

Peter: Hmm… now that was a ridiculous and petty thing to do. Still, she did expect me to take time to sign autographs while lives are in danger, so it’s okay for me to have done what I did.

(Peter looks down at his hand.)

Peter: Hey wait a second! Where did I get this pen from? I don’t have any pockets on my costume!

Reed Richards: Never mind that! I need you on the roof.

(Peter lands on a rooftop along with some of the other heroes)

Reed: I’ve built a device that will suck the Mindless Ones back into the portal before sealing it up. I need all of you to hit this panel with all your assorted energies…

Thor: Hold, good Doctor Richards. I have no doubt of thy scientific prowess… but even in far Asgard, it is known that tis Doctor Strange who is the guardian of the barriers between the Earth realm and the realms from which these monsters come. Be it not wise then, for us to seek his counsel in this matter before taking action?

Reed: (staring at Thor) What happened to your beard?

Thor: What beard?

Peter: He’s right. You had a full beard the last time I guested in your title.

Thor: I know not what thou speakest of. Though as a member of the Aesir I may control the growth of all hair upon mine body, lengthening or shortening it at will!

Reed: And yet you still have that mullet.

Thor: Verily, I say unto thee that the Eighties shall never die so long as Thor draws breath! Yea. Also sayest I that the Crue shall always rule.

Peter: Uh… yeah. Look, Thor may have bad fashion sense, but he’s got a point. Every time we try and build a science doo-dad to deal with these magical monsters, something always goes screwy and we wind up having to deal with something ten times worse.

Reed: Oh, come now! That’s only happened with… well, at least half the times I fought Doctor Doom. But that’s not the point. The point is that I’m here, he’s not and nothing is going to go wrong.

(The device gets activated. Something goes wrong. ENTER Dr. Strange)

Doctor Strange: You fool! You foolish fool! You have released the dreaded Dormammu!

Peter: (pointing to Reed) He did it! Not me! Not my fault this time!

Doctor Strange: Yes. Reed, didn’t we have this discussion about not messing around with magical things you don’t understand a few months ago in your own book?

Reed: Maybe… damn this sacrificing continuity for the sake of readability!

Doctor Strange: Indeed. Well, now I must confront Dormammu alone.

Thor: Because he commands dread magical forces that we would stand no chance confronting? Because our strength shall be needed to repel those minions that even now threaten to besiege the city again?

Doctor Strange: No. I just don’t trust any of you idiots watching my back any further than I could project your souls through the astral plane.

(More stone monster butt-whomping ensues)

Peter: Man. It’s weird seeing everyone in my title, just like the old days when Stan Lee was still writing me and you couldn’t go two issues without a guest star and a big fight in the middle of the streets. I’m barely getting the time to make pithy one-liners or self-introspective monologues!

Peter sees Doctor Strange about to get stomped. He saves him.

Peter: Yes! I finally got to do something!

Doctor Strange: No! You foo-


Peter: Huh… hello? It’s dark.

Dr. Strange: Be quiet. We are in danger of being eaten by a grue.

Peter: What? Was that a Zork reference?

Dr. Strange: Yes. Not only am I the master of the mystic arts, I am master of the esoteric reference! You may speak now… I have given us something similar to a physical form.

Peter: Okay… so what happened?

Dr. Strange: You altered my spell so that instead of being destroyed along with Dormammu, we have been sucked into the void between realities.

Peter: Well, don’t thank me for saving your life or anything.

Dr. Strange: I don’t intend to. We are in a most dangerous position and must be very careful if we want to return to our proper place and time. Stay close to me and say nothing or else.

Peter: Or else what?

Dr. Strange: Or else we might wind up trapped in another world; perhaps one where your wife has your powers and is a 19 year old lesbian.

Peter: Yeah. Or where Judd Winick is writing both our titles!

Dr. Strange: (glaring at Peter) I don’t have a title…

Peter: You can have one of mine. You’re in here often enough…

Dr. Strange: This is true. Perhaps we can take this up with Mr. Jemas…

(Suddenly, Mary Jane runs out of the rubble being chased by a Mindless One)

Peter: Mary Jane! Wait!

Dr. Strange: No! You must stay with me!

MJ: Help! Help!

Peter: Don’t worry, MJ! I’m here. You’re still straight, right?

(MJ is killed by the one Mindless One Peter missed)


(Peter jumps and finds himself in a cemetery. He sees himself as an older man.)

Old Peter: Aunt May, I’m sorry. I’ll make you proud, I promise. Top of the world, Ma!

(The cops move in on Old Peter as Peter looks the other way)

Peter: What the-

(We see a Younger Peter Parker. Young Peter is standing at the back of a crowd… as a familiar glowing spider crawls down from the ceiling)

Peter: What the…. Yes, I know. It is my destiny to change into the spider that bit me, thus performing a loop in time that can never be broken, thus preventing that future I just saw from happening.

(Peter tries… and fails to become a spider)

Peter: Shoot… wait a second, that’s Barry Allen… not me. Guess I’ll have to wait until next month to see what the heck is going on….

This is a critique/parody published by, and is not intended maliciously. has invented all names and situations in its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceding information.

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