Posted - June 16, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man v3 1.1
Learning To Crawl Part One

So why is this numbered 1.1 instead of 2? Because this is a flashback issue taking us to the early days of Spider-Man.

Oh no! That beautiful cover lured us into a story that we already know, right? Yeah, but not quite. There are some very nice subtle surprises in this issue.

The hype around 1.1 is that they retconned a new villain into Spidey's early years. You might have heard referrals to Clash. Well here he is.


This panel is pretty much the only time you'll see the costumed Clash in this issue. It's the very last panel of 1.1, which means Clash comes into the picture next issue, in Part Two.

The story begins right after the death of Uncle Ben. Very early on, I'm struck by some beautiful panels from artist Ramon Perez (any relation to the Perez I wonder?).

Here is Peter, walking a lonely road, contemplating the death of the only father he's ever known:

peter walking down the stree
					after the death uncle ben

The big, red spider over the shadow not withstanding, the layout of this panel, and Ian Herrings choice of colors, conveys the mute loneliness of one Peter Parker very effectively.

Another Perez panel is even better. It's a very simple scene: Spidey climbing up the side of Aunt May's house.

spider-man climbing the side of
					aunt may's house

What is it about this panel? Is it the form of the tree? The tint of the sky or the reflective windows? It's just right, just wonderful to look at.

Considering the subject matter, there is an appropriate funereal mood to the opening of this story. Then we get these five curious panels:

aunt may breaks down
					while preparing breakfast

At first, I thought this was a miss, a flaw in the script. Ben Parker had just been killed the day before, it is the next morning, and May Parker is preparing breakfast with a smile on her face? After some thought it began to dawn on me how brilliant these series of panels are.

Of course Aunt May is preparing breakfast as usual; what better way to subconsciously deny the death of Ben Parker? This is denial that confronts Peter on this tragic morning. A brave front put on by her Aunt to show that she simply does not accept the situation. The last panel shows us that one can only erect so many walls to deny an incoming sea.

The real core of this issue is an open ended debate on the life, the character and the legacy of one Ben Parker. And the debate starts with this panel.

peter talks finances

Good old Uncle Ben died without leaving any money to his family. Question: Is he still good old Uncle Ben? Is a man still good if he doesn't provide for his loved ones? Much later, we have this panel right after Ben Parker's funeral:

at uncle ben's funeral

Peter is holding green bean casserole, tuna casserole, sweet potato casserole - maybe every casserole ever invented. Each tray of the stuff given by a family friend that Uncle Ben helped out, sometimes financially, paying a mortgage here, a hospital bill there. So Uncle Ben spent for all these people but didn't even leave enough for his family to pay for his funeral. You may have a different opinion, but from where I am, good old Uncle Ben, such a font of wisdom in Spider-Man lore, indeed the source of the oft-quoted "With great power comes great responsibility", is, himself, an irresponsible deadbeat. Suddenly, Amazing Spider-Man 1.1 is starting NOT to look like a mere rehash of a tale we're all familiar with.

Not to put too much of a damper on things, let's go over to Aunt May for a spot of wisdom that I personally know to be true in my own life; I'm almost sure you'll agree it is true for you too.

the universe provides

The universe provides.

No panel throws me back to the Ditko-era Spider-Man more than this one with Spider-Man and Maxie, Spidey's agent. I think its the way Maxie's face is drawn. The girl is one of Maxie's clients.

spider-man and his agent

Ever notice that when we panic it's almost always because a lot of different pressure sources converge on us? It's usually not just one thing. Almost all of us can handle just one thing going wrong - we focus on it and keep our cool. But if another blaze sprouts up somewhere else when we're firefighting, well, that's a lot to handle. Peter has not one, not two, but three major fires: The death of his Uncle on his conscience, the lack of money plagueing his family and his sudden role as the man of the house at fifteen years old. So when Maxie does something totally harmless like call him a "hero". we get this:

peter loses his cool

This is no indestructible god from Asgard; no super rich playboy indistrialist. This is Spider-Man. This is us.

Here's another great reality.

spider-man swinging from a building

Something you enjoy, the moment you have to do it in near-desperation to survive; it becomes a chore. Drudgery. How true; the pressure ruins the fun.

The smallest panel with the biggest message in this issue? This is it:

flash vs. peter

This is a dream that has been thrown out there by millions of people billions of times but it has almost always never come true: To be able to look into the bully's eye and know that, without any doubt whatsoever, that the bullying is over. This is the huge thing that is happening in this small panel. Dream come true.

I've shown you Peter Parker losing control, it's only fair that I show you another side of him.

peter has a little talk with himself

Peter Parker alone, talking to his departed Uncle. But no, he's really talking to himself. Voicing out a sentiment that is all but universal to every man and woman who stands as a breadwinner. There's something poignant, sad and brave about these two panels. In fact, the same can be said about the whole issue. And that's a great way to end this review.

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