“You Want Pants With That?”
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: John Romita Jr (p), Scott Hanna (i)
Spidey runs into a very specialised New York tailor who is having a crisis of conscience after overhearing a plot to kill the District Attorney. Luckily, Peter is on hand to sort out the mess - and receive a few tailoring tips to boot...
Whilst a story about a man who has turned his hand to making costumes for super-heroes may not sound like the most thrilling comic you could read, I have to admit to being charmed by this issue. Here, JMS turns what would have ordinarily been a disposable filler issue into a fun exploration of some of the more ridiculous aspects of super-hero costuming, as well as giving a generic plot strong relevance to the individual ethos of Spider-man. It maybe merely a dressed-up (no pun intended) D-list-villain-thwarted story, but it makes for an entertaining read.
For a tale which centres around one of the more colourful conceits in superhero comics, the art has to be up to scratch. Happily, JR Jr continues his excellent run here, offering up more confident visuals each time - aided by the superior inks of Scott Hanna, which seem to grow more refined and effective with each issue. Here, Romita Jr gets to really shine with the many one-panel guest stars on display in a fun montage of the clientele of Leo Zelinsky, the superhero tailor: glimpses of the Thing, Captain America and Thor (as well as less desirable elements of the super-villain spectrum) are all faithfully rendered in a sequence which helps reinforce the story premise at the same time as it cements Spider-Man's position as part of a larger Marvel Universe - a theme which has underpinned several JMS spider-stories of late. Special mention also must go to a fun page including a cameo of Venom, showing how that no matter how well-scripted a moment may be, the artwork is always going to be essential in conveying an idea - and the subtleties and nuances that Romita includes are always a real boon in this medium.
Whilst one could argue that, as part of a larger whole, this story really goes nowhere (save a final tip of the hat to the recent time-travelling antics of issue #500), it's nice to have a stand-alone issue which really works despite its relative lightness and simplicity.
It's another filler issue before the title moves onto bigger things and a stronger overall story-arc, but when they're as well-executed and fun as this one is, it's difficult to complain. An enjoyable commentary on one of the sillier aspects of superheroics mixed with a simple if effective plot, it's everything a good stand-alone Spider-man tale should be.
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