Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Astonishing Flashbacks: The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man, by Tim

Although I have only been reviewing the title for a few issues, I have about 80 Astonishing Spider-Mans in a big box in my room. This collection holds many of my personal favorite Spider-Tales, and some of the most lauded stories ever written and drawn about the web-slinger. As such, I am trying out an idea for a new, irregular column featuring notably famous, good or awful strips from my old comics - Astonishing Flashbacks.

The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man is one of the most popular and best loved tales in the entire Spider-Man/Peter Parker franchise of comics. I was aware of it's existence before I read it, and when I saw that it would be in AstonSpid #23 back in Feb-Mar of '08, I was reasonably excited. Well, hit the jump to see what I thought back then, and still think now.

This is a human interest story that relies on readers associating with the boy who is finally meeting his idol, Spider-Man. I can relate very easily to the kid above; a geek called Tim (and hates being called Timmy) who loves Star Wars and Spider-Man sums me up quite well as a nine-year-old. No problems there, and the art by Ron Frenz is serviceable at the least, though a little of it's time.

So why don't I enjoy this story? It's not badly written, and uses a clever framing device; but it's just not interesting. Peter explains his origin and powers to Tim, and beats himself up yet again for being indirectly responsible for the death of Uncle Ben; this is painted by numbers, boring dwelling on a story that has been told hundreds of times. The story gains some vitality when Peter takes off his mask and lets Tim see his face, and this is almost a touching moment, but it is ruined by the revelation that Tim is dying of leukemia. This just makes Peter seem callous and calculating, which adds to the artificial feel of the whole strip. And yes, cancer is awful, but introducing a nice young child over the course of 11 pages then suddenly giving them terminal cancer as a surprise ending isn't compassionate writing; it's puerile hackwork.

This story is not awful, but it's also nowhere near good, let alone one of the greatest Spidey stories around. It's a fairly boring story with an ill-conceived ending that was only ever intended as filler for a Thunderball arc that ran short; and the fact that story that is so sentimental without earning it is lauded as one of the greats is a bit of a shame; there are so many better stories out there. I still encourage you to read it if you haven't before; and if you have read it, look over it again with these criticisms in mind. After that, if you disagree, just nail my nadgers to the bedpost in the comment section; that's what it's for!


  1. I've read this story in an anthology thing from the local library. Can't say I found anything good about it. But then it DID follow up the death of Jean Dewolfe or something.

  2. I respectfully disagree.

    This was a change-of-pace story that came out of left field. It served to delineate Spider-Man's origins and motivations in a way the readers didn't expect.

    It was a quiet, human interlude in Spider-Man's otherwise violent and explosive world.

    It stood out with many readers, and that's why people remember it.

    I see gold, you see iron pyrite. If your mileage varies, that's absolutely cool.

    I'm just saying, is all.

  3. A mini-classic to be read by all.

  4. Wait a few years until you lose someone meaningful to you, and I expect you will feel differently about this story.