As amazing as Spider-Man is he sure is unlucky when it comes to love isn’t he? That isn’t to say that he hasn’t had his fair share of ladies in his life, but more so that they either are only interested him in his Spidey persona, wind up dead, or are retconned out of his life. So in the spirit of celebrating Peter’s many failures at love Marvel decides to torture poor Spider-Man by publishing a book highlighting just how pathetic his love life is. Constructed as a trio of short stories The Many Loves focuses on three of the most beloved lovers in Peter’s life and one that may inherit that role any day now.
“The Root of All Annoyance”
The first story by Chris Yost and Michael Ryan provides a look at the tumultuous relationship between Spider-Man and the Black Cat, which is my personal favorite. The dysfunctional dynamic between Spider & Cat is one that has always been ripe with potential throughout their weird history together. Now Felicia is back in Spider-Man’s life and turning it upside down and making it that much more interesting.
This tale was my favorite of the three and Chris Yost is possibly the most underrated writer in all of comics. His handling of these characters is spot on to what we have all come to know and love. He can bring the funny with Spidey quips as well as encompass Peter’s Charlie Brown Syndrome. With a story reminiscent of the most fun webhead entries Yost delivers a bank robbery by the Occultist (who?) that is foiled by Spider-Man and Black Cat. However, the Occultist manages to place a spell on Peter that enables the money to magically follow Peter and hilarity ensues. The funniest moment comes when Lightmaster attacks Spider-Man only to have the large bag of money appear out of nowhere landing on Lightmaster, incapacitating him.
The handling of the interaction between Peter and Felicia is the real star of this short as they are total opposites in every conceivable manner yet they are so good together and Yost doesn’t lose sight of that fact. Heck, I'll go as far to say that Yost and Michael Ryan, who provides some exceptional pencils, should be part of Spidey’s brain trust.
Brian Reed takes a look at Peter’s first love Gwen Stacy and his current pursuit Carlie Cooper in a story that takes a look back in time to when the two were youngsters (and alive in Gwen’s case) as they are stuck at the police station together. This story had absolutely nothing to do with Spider-Man outside of the fact that he is linked to both women. Instead Reed decides to take this in the route of a flashback showing a look at the two girls in their childhood. Carlie snoops through a case file, intrigued by the fact that it pertains to the murders of young girls. Somehow, Carlie picks up on some details that lead to a break in the case and that is the gist of the whole short story.
“All the World’s a Stage”
Finally, classic Spider writer Roger Stern wraps this issue up quite nicely with a Mary Jane centric narrative. While auditioning for a role in disguise MJ feels a personal attachment with the script. Stern and artist Ron Frenz take advantage of this situation by interspersing the dialogue of MJ’s audition with little vignettes of MJ and Peter’s relationship and how they correlate with each other.
After being passed over for the role because the director deems her to be too pretty, MJ finds herself overwhelmed with thoughts of Peter. It is blatantly evident that she still harbors strong feelings for Peter and she almost calls him, but rethinks her actions at the last minute by telling herself that she should move on. But in the closing scene she second guesses the state of her happiness which, without telling the reader, has to deal with the fact that Peter isn’t a part of her life. This was a touching little look into the life of Mary Jane Watson and her feelings for Peter Parker. Does anyone else think that it is only a matter of time before the two are a couple again?
In closing, I thought that this was a worthy issue for fans of Spider-Man. While the Reed tale was the weakest of the three they were all entertaining enough and had great art attached to all of them. One of the things that make Spider-Man so relatable is his issues with relationships so it was a wise decision to focus on this. However, this could have been done in Amazing and felt right at home there. Better yet, Marvel could have published this for Valentine’s Day and it would have fit perfectly with the holiday theme.
What did you think of this book?
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