Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl #1.3 continues to reveal the “untold” story of young Peter Parker and Clayton Cole and their burgeoning attempts to enter the business of superheroics. Where this issue succeeds is in clearing up a lot of the confusion surrounding Clayton’s motivations in the previous issue. It is becoming even clearer that the character is meant to operate as a more priveledged Peter Parker without the knowledge gained in the moment he realized the danger and responsibility his powers bore. It is a tale that writer Dan Slott has attempted before with Alpha character and here it has been handled much better.
Clayton deeply desires notoriety on the level of Spider-Man, when he appeared on late night television. It does take knowledge outside of these issues to truly see the eventual contrast between Clayton and Peter, as the latter isn’t exactly a “hero” either. That said, Peter is still determined to do the right thing for his Aunt’s livelihood and for his own self-preservation.
The depiction of Cole’s powers by Ramon Perez gets a boost as well in Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl #1.3 as well. In the past Clash’s powers were only depicted using lettering but here Perez breaks up his panel’s boarders and interiors to show the raw power of the sound Clash’s devices are making.
Colorist Ian Herring has a particularly standout moment early on when he desaturates the artwork in some panels and saturates it in others depending on the volume of sound. It helps convey the rage that Clayton is feeling as a young man who hasn’t yet found a way to get what he wants.
The character work done with Peter is less successful overall. Sure there are the odd fun moments of flirtation between Peter and a classmate while Aunt May rushes to marry him off, but those are undermined by the need to reference the original Amazing Spider-Man issues that occur simultaneously with these issues.
No amount of Ramon Perez’s beautiful artwork, in this case it’s a great depiction of Peter’s first encounter with the Vulture, can cover up these strange asides that break up the flow of the narrative. As mentioned earlier, Peter isn’t quite the hero that he eventually becomes so at times his actions aren’t quite the smartest, like rushing into the science fair to needlessly fight Clash, and this undermines the contrast that the script seems to want to set up between him and Clayton.
That said, all the dialogue and situations depicted in this issue are written with a ton of charm and humor. The costumery of Peter’s friends is not only humorous but does a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of the Marvel universe in its infancy, with superheroes suddenly appearing all over the world. Ramon Perez’s artwork maintains his incredible style and pacing throughout, with his split panels continuing to shine. The rendering of Peter and Clayton’s fight harkens back to classic Spider-Man and yet maintains some modern artistic sensibilities.