Full disclosure: The Lizard is my all-time favorite Spider-Man foe. All-time. Like, as a little kid, I owned the Lizard Mego toy before I had the Spider-Man one and I probably drew Lizard more than Spider-Man in Crayolas. Part of that might be because there wasn’t a Rhino Mego, but whatever the case, the cover for Spidey #3 was all I needed to feel the joy welling up inside me, effervescent to rediscover my childhood favorite.
And then it hit me: Spidey isn’t about translating the legend or updating continuity. It’s a sparkplug to jumpstart latent joy and a dose of freshness for wonderment that may have grown stale in adulthood. At least THAT’s what I get from Spidey, and Spidey #3 is no different.
Writer Robbie Thompson gives readers yet another smart, fun installment of Peter Parker’s web-clad adventures, swinging through New York, fighting the good fight, and trying to find time for life. Sure, it might seem like the writer makes Peter Parker a chump, suffering the foolishness of Flash Thompson and shrugging off a swirly in order to maintain his secret identity, but Robbie Thompson is giving readers a baseline into the mild-mannered mask our titular star carries to conceal his other life. Add to that a wide-open sandbox fully stocked with all of the latest Spider-Man toys, and Thompson gives readers a fun romp that just has to be appreciated, regardless of readers’ ages.
Taking it a step further, Thompson puts Peter’s moral compass front and center in Spidey #3. Every reader knows that Uncle Ben means the world to Spider-Man, and Thompson drives that home in this issue. While this is a younger Spider-Man, the lessons Thompson channels through the webslinger are no less salient. Pete strives to find balance in this issue, but sometimes balance and responsibility only lead to more responsibility, which requires even more skill in balancing the load and delivering on promises.
Thompson makes it quite clear that, even though he is a young man, Peter Parker is committed to his Aunt, to his studies, and to making the world a little bit better. Uncle Ben is his inspiration, and Thompson lingers on that throughout the comic, but I’m pretty sure Ben Parker would find inspiration in the way his nephew handles himself. Thompson gives readers a final wink and sends this issue out on an “After School Special” note, reminding readers that Spidey isn’t just about slinging webs and punching bad guys. This is a story about a young man finding his identity while remembering his roots. It’s pure Spider-Man from cover to cover.
For his part, artist Nick Bradshaw appears to be having the time of his life, if the art is even remotely indicative. Combining painfully detailed backgrounds and textures with romping, rangy characters; Bradshaw fills the panels with energy and detail. His Lizard is less half gator-man, and more living dinosaur humanoid. The appearance alone is worthy of fear, but more prone to evoke awe and study. Bradshaw presses the edges of this comic visually, drawing strands of DNA, soldiers in combat, Curt Connors’ transformation, and even a sneaky cameo from Dan Slott. And that’s just a sliver of what he packs into the pages that require two people to color them. Colorists Jim Campbell and Rachelle Rosenberg are given the first line in making Spidey #3 their own adult coloring book, and they do so in marvelous fashion. The palette is vivid, giving the book a visual throwback while amping up the energy present in Bradshaw’s art.
Mysterio shows up for another fun one-panel cameo from a classic Spider-Man foe in this issue, giving Spidey #3 even more green and purple to share with readers, which is definitely a good thing. Thompson and Bradshaw do a great job of filling this comic with energy and giving readers a solid done-in-one or slice of a grander adventure. This is a great first Spider-Man comic and a solid thousandth Spidey read. It is clearly intended for everyone, and if you enter it recalling the joy this character has given you, you are certain to find some more joy in return. For my money, issue after issue, this is one of the most entertaining Spider-Man reads Marvel is currently delivering, and Spidey #3 is a prime example of why.