The Pre-Powered Peter Parker in Here There Be Monsters!
Writer: Todd Dezago
Pictures: Mike Wieringo & Rich Case
Letters: Richard Starkings
Colors: Gregory Wright
Originally published: July 1997
This is the first pre-Spider powers Peter Parker story I’ve read that’s not a Petey comic. That in itself is cause for celebration.
This tells the tale of Peter and Ben on a fishing trip, where they encounter horrible monsters! The two are attacked, without provocation mind you, by the likes of Gigantus, the monster that walked like a man; Groot, monarch of Planet X; The Vandoom Creature and The Blip, an energy-being from another dimension! There’s a whole lot of running-for-lives going on before Peter pulls a MacGyver and uses the metal fishing line to draw power from The Blip into the lake, where Gigantus, Groot and The Vandoom Creature are standing and are subsequently electrocuted. Everything seems fine and dandy until another miscellaneous monster comes around and captures Ben! Oh noes! What will Peter do?!
Well, he’ll wake up because, cop-out of cop-outs, the whole thing was a dream inspired by Peter’s late-night funny book reading! Whew, that was close! Also, it turns out the dream was being controlled (?) or used (?) by Nightmare, but then Stan Lee shows up and knocks him out with a tennis racket. (BTW, at various other points Stan also shows up on TV, as a ghostly/smoky emission from Peter’s comic, and as another fisherman at the lake with Peter and Ben.)
I can sort of see the appeal of just throwing a bunch of random sci-fi old-school type monsters at Peter and Ben but, for a couple of reasons, it didn’t really work here. First, Peter and Ben didn’t really do anything except run and hide a bunch of times; that’s not super exciting. Second, the whole “it was all a dream” thing is really played out, even with the inclusion of Nightmare. Third, Stan Lee’s character pissed me off. That was three reasons, but it still adds up to mediocre.