How many Parkers does it take to stop an alien invasion using time travel and a reformed J. Jonah Jameson? At least three, according to Chip Zdarsky’s latest take on everyone’s favorite wall-crawler in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 3. To stop the Tinkerer from bringing ruin upon the Big Apple, Spider-Man has enlisted the help of Jameson, Teresa Parker, and his own past self. Luckily, the issue of time travel destroying the future is addressed almost immediately and it’s all okay — this is an alternate timeline where nothing can go wrong or mess up the future. No harm, no foul, right?
With the time travel training wheels off, Zdarsky is free to take on some key moments in young Parker’s herodom, including turning Green Goblin into his mad self way before it actually happened, letting Jameson convince his past self to lay off Spider-Man — all while revealing that the fifteen-year-old photographer is the web-slinging menace — and allowing Teresa to solve the mystery of her own past with the help of an incredulous Nick Fury who ought to know better. Zdarksy’s storytelling and double Parker quips flow effortlessly with Joe Quinones’ art, weaving in several pivotal moments in the Spider-Man canon.
As an addition to the volume, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1 is included with mixed results. While Zdarsky’s story of the reformed Jameson trying to help Peter is heart-warming, the art by Michael Allred is reminiscent of a much older style — and not in a cool, retro way. In addition, I’m not sure that people were clamoring for a J. Jonah Jameson-centeric comic. The second story, written by Mike Drucker and illustrated by Chris Bachalo, is pretty much Deadpool in Spider-Man’s Underroos, but isn’t Deadpool just a murdery Spider-Man anyway? Either way, the Annual is almost completely skippable.
Several moments in the main comic stand out, including a very-well crafted page where Gwen Stacy’s ultimate fate is paralleled during young Peter’s fight with the enhanced Goblin. Zdarsky and Quinones have built a solid story with art to match while connecting the present to the real-life past of the comics. This strong story about family and heroism allows Peter not to fix the mistakes of his past, but certainly to cement his future.