Writer – Nick Spencer; Artist – Iban Coello; Colorist – Brian Reber; Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna; Designer – Anthony Gambino; Associate Editor – Kathleen Wisneski; Editor – Nick Lowe; Editor in Chief – C.B. Cebulski
It finally happened. Somebody gave J. Jonah Jameson a podcast and released him onto the internet. Will New York ever be safe again? Can Peter Parker save us? In “The Amazing Spider-Man #39,” we find out!
Following the events of the last two issues, in which Nora Winters offers JJJ a podcast, he is ready to start recording, and Spider-Man is in the studio as his first guest. Spidy agrees to do this for them because after the last issue he yelled at Jonah for exposing the SHIELD operation on which he was working and felt guilty when Winters (the brains of the business) explained how much Jonah wants to make amends for the past and show New York that Spider-Man is a hero.
This starts off as one may expect, awkward and funny. Jonah’s commercial read is fantastic. It seems like a real ad you’d see on a podcast, but JJJ’s pride gets the better of him to comedic ends. Then later, a scene in which Jonah says that he is trying to be helpful and explains that people don’t trust Spider-Man because of the media is hilarious in that awkward “How can you be so blind to your hypocrisy” way. There is also a great meta-humor bit about heroes fighting before teaming up and Jonah makes a good jab about Spider-Man quipping during heroics.
The interview gets underway and starts off amiable, but Spider-Man keeps insulting Jonah and, never being a humble man, he reacts. And the crazy thing is, Jonah makes a great point. The argument is basically this. Spider-Man mocks Jonah for getting his reporting wrong at the Daily Bugle. Jonah, primarily out of pride, says he got some things right, and when Spider-Man tries to argue, Jonah fights back saying, in effect, “I reported on your actions. You never reached out or offered a dialogue, you just insulted and threatened me. Of course I thought you were a menace and I didn’t trust you.”
And it’s true, Spider-Man really did escalate their fight to an extent, something most readers have likely never considered as Spidy is always, understandably, the hero of his own story; it is from his perspective. It’s fantastic to have this level of introspection, also to have the audience see the argument from a long time “enemy’s” point of view, and further for his motivations to then be not only understandable, but sympathetic.
Further, Jonah accuses him by saying how often just being open would’ve made Spider-Man’s life easier (Superior Spidy anyone?). Now that’s not to say Spider-Man started it or deserved years of harassment from Jonah, but he actively did make life harder for himself, though that’s the status quo for Spider-Man.
Coello and Reber do well to bring the story of ASM #39 to life. That said, most of the story takes place in a studio, so the real show is in the reactions of the characters which this team nails. The book starts with closeups on Nora and JJJ’s mouths as they talk, which have great depth, proportions, and color, especially Nora’s shade of lipstick and teeth color which really popped. We then zoom out to a dark orange studio and Jonah talking to Spider-Man. It goes like that for a while, but when everything goes downhill, you get Jonah standing and yelling with Spider-Man reacting which really effectively captures Jonah’s aggressive journalistic hunting instincts and Spider-Man’s surprise and insult at being harangued.
Finally, one tangential piece of praise. In the call out boxes that cite previous issues, Lowe mentions the volume and issue. You don’t always see both, and it makes it much easier to find those back issues, so well done editing team!
Amazing Spider-Man #39 has the drama and comedy one wants from a Spider-Man book, while also taking the extra step to be introspective and serious. It’s well worth any fan’s time.