Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The spectacular Amazing Spider-Man Annual #18
Plot: Tom DeFalco
Script: Stan Lee
Breakdowns: Ron Frenz

I got this for my birthday this year, and it's the best comic I've read in a long time.

In fact, I'd even go so far as to call it a textbook comicbook.

Following straight on from Spider-Man (UK) #607-610, this was Stan Lee's first Spider-script for 12 years, and it's a breeze to read, start to finish.

While the wedding of a main character is generally considered to be a turning-point in a main comicbook character's life, when it's a lesser character getting hitched it can all too easily be a comedy filler.

Well, this is an annual, and the character getting married is Parker's short-tempered employer at the Daily Bugle - J Jonah Jameson. Accordingly, this is just packed with cynical one-liners. It's also impossibly narrated throughout by Peter Parker, (at the sad but valid expense of Stan's usual trademark hard-sell) making full use that great sense of humour that Spidey is known for coming out with.

(the Marvel UK printing offered further, unintentional, comedy as usual - see one very reedited panel of it here)

Yet beneath the endless jibes at poor Jonah's expense ("Imagine waking up in the morning and being J Jonah Jameson. Yeccch!") there is tragedy lurking. JJJ's visit to his mentally ill son at a sanitarium, and subsequent estrangement from him, got me on the old Meldrew's side, although I knew he and Spidey could never end up working together. (except at the Daily Bugle, of course)

Anyway, the Scorpion escapes, as is a villain's wont, and pretty soon several of the other characters find themselves trying to get away from their respective company too. Jonah himself's ploy to evade his own Police protection is so simple it's brilliant.

At one point Spider-Man webs-up the Scorpion's eyes in order to blind him, a fine move, but one which inevitably left me wondering why he doesn't try this very useful tactic on more of his enemies.

Tom DeFalco's plot is fun, and even the final panel contains a superb closing in-joke that I can't believe I never saw coming.

'Nuff said!


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