Web of Spider-Man #11
Issue(s): Web of Spider-Man #11
...while out of costume.
His actions inspire the people in his neighborhood to form Peter Parker Patrols.
But Peter doesn't want the attention, both because of secret identity concerns and because it causes the criminals to retaliate in a series of escalating crimes that eventually result in his apartment getting burned down.
Peter seeks advice from Mary Jane, who suggests that he just lay low. He doesn't follow that advice, and instead goes after the criminals as Spider-Man...
...which is what results in them retaliating with the fire.
He also seeks advice from Flash Thompson. The scene with Flash is definitely the most interesting aspect of the book. When Peter asks why some people pick on others, and uses Flash's bullying of him in high school as an example, Flash completely denies that he ever bullied Peter, and claims that he was just giving Peter a well-deserved knock down for acting so stuck up and especially for snubbing Liz Allan.
I don't think that's how Stan Lee and Steve Ditko intended for us to read those issues, but it's an interesting reading.
The level of crime shown in this story just makes New York seem like a post apocalyptic urban wasteland. In addition to a bunch of kids walking into a laundromat and just deciding to rape a lady, the issue starts off with Spider-Man giving the police some unwanted help with a trio of armed burglars. And it also turns out that one of the rapists has a brother who is a hitman for the mob (the brother's name is Hector, and i wonder if that was scripter Bill Mantlo's choice, which would be odd considering the real name of the White Tiger, which he created; couldn't anyone think of a different name for a Hispanic guy?).
The overall impact for me is just like, holy crap, call the Punisher already, but that really seems to have been the way crime was perceived at the time, and it's the same concern that made the Punisher popular. It's a competently told story, though. The conclusion, by nearly a completely different creative team except for Bob McLeod's inks, comes next issue, but see the Considerations section.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Despite the fact that this story seems to be continued directly in issue #12, the fire in Peter's apartment is referenced in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #110, while in Web of Spider-Man #12, Spider-Man's help in the Jean DeWolff affair is mentioned. So Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110 takes place between Web of #11-12.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
At this point, Flash has convinced himself that Sha Shan is sleeping with Peter but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of that in his conversation with Peter. In fact, Flash's belief that Sha Shan is having an affair with Peter contributes to his striking Sha Shan in Amazing 275, which makes it seem like Flash is deluding himself when he claims he was never a bully.
Posted by: Michael | October 27, 2013 7:08 PM
That's a really interesting take on Flash. Of course, it doesn't quite hold up with stuff that has been revealed since in the current VENOM series starring Flash. But his attitude here still works, since most bullies don't actually think of themselves AS bullies...so it makes sense that Flash would have his own view of the situation to justify it to himself.
On a separate note...Flash, what the heck are you wearing?!? I know its the 80s, but magenta short-shorts and a belly shirt? It looks like he's about to be revealed as another bullying stereotype--the repressed closet-case!
Posted by: Dermie | October 27, 2013 7:10 PM
Just a data point on the Flash/Sha Shan thing: as Peter is leaving Flash, he notes that it was a friendlier than normal conversation and he thinks "Guess he's finally gotten over that silly notion that Sha Shan -- his girl -- and I've been seeing each other!".
Posted by: fnord12 | October 27, 2013 7:28 PM
This story just got so botched in the handling. The points being made end up being ludicrous.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | October 27, 2013 7:37 PM
Hector is a very rare name here in Spain. Same could be said of Latin America
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | October 27, 2013 8:55 PM
Flash's comments would make more sense in his later years with Peter in college. I agree with the others that Flash's comments do represent his actual frame of mind, but are still completely self serving, and objectively wrong. I also think that was Fingeroth's and Mantlo's intent.
At the same time, Flash's bullying was of a lower level. It was insults, putdowns and social ostracization. I don't think it was ever physical though; Flash clearly knew Peter was physically weaker, and we never saw him want to hit him. The few times Flash and Peter did come to blows were in situations where any fight would be "fair" like the boxing match in ASM #8.
Certainly, there is no indication prior to Amazing Fantasy #15 that Flash and his gang ever invited Peter to anything. It was only as the series progressed and Peter grew in confidence because of his superpowers that the high school gang began to want to include him, and there we did see Peter "blow them off" because of his responsibilities to Aunt May and as Spider-Man. I think the "stuck up" comment is fairly frequent against those students who do well at school by people who are envious at their success.
Flash's comments and actions remind me of someone who was physically abused himself. While perpetuating the abuse to others, Flash has taken care not to do the physical attacks that likely happened to him. Thus in his mind, he is truly the innocent party. "If I wanted to bully you, you would have been hurt. I know what bullying is, not you." Wasn't it established at some point that Flash was physically abused when he was younger?
Posted by: Chris | October 27, 2013 8:59 PM
Yes, Flash's dad was a violent drunk who used to beat him.
Posted by: Dermie | October 27, 2013 9:33 PM
Didn't Flash get a bit nasty to Jessica Jones in Alias?
Posted by: Max_Spider | October 28, 2013 7:53 PM
I think Flash's comments are actually a good reality check. Peter was invited out by the other kids, he even got a date with one of the girls (I don't remember if it was Liz) which he ducked out on. Then he completely ignored Liz when she started throwing herself at him. And any number of times in Lee-Ditko's run, he's flat-out ignoring people because he's so wrapped up in his own problems. Not just being rude or making it clear that he has his responsibilities, but literally not paying any attention to people talking to him directly. "We all had responsibilities" is right. I doubt Peter was the only kid in school with a job or a family that needed support.
I do agree that Flash is re-writing things a bit from his own perspective, but we'd already seen Peter's p.o.v. so it works quite well.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 7, 2015 3:53 AM
Amazing Fantasy 15 has everyone laughing at Peter and going out without him, the boxing match happened because Flash picked a fight by breaking his glasses and a teacher made them settle it in the ring and Flash spent the whole of ASM25 trying to kick Peter's head in, even going to his house to find him. I think it's fair to say that Flash was a violent bully who has just justified things to himself and glossed over the bits that show him to be utterly wrong.
Posted by: Benway | April 6, 2016 10:01 PM
Flash is being self-serving and is ignoring some examples of him being a jerk (I'm not sure how long he knew Peter before he became Spider-Man, but he is really a jerk in Amazing Fantasy 15), but I also am unsure if he is a "bully," especially in the way Peter was using the word. We never see Flash doing much in the way of juvenile delinquency or picking on anyone else. It's like calling Reggie Mantle a "bully" in the Archie universe because he's a jerk to Archie.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | April 11, 2016 7:38 PM
Bob McLeod lettered this bad boy as well as drawing the bloody thing!
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 1, 2017 12:50 AM
Some of the scripting here seems very out of character for Mantlo. The conversation with Flash doesn't sound like Mantlo at all to me, in fact parts of it sounds more like Peter David, who wrote the conclusion to this story. Perhaps Mantlo based it on an office conversation about Flash where this rationale had been made?
Other parts definitely strike me as more likely to be scripted by Fingeroth rather than Mantlo, perhaps Fingeroth's plot had some dialogue already written and Mantlo filled out the rest? Or did Mantlo just respond differently when he was working on someone else's plot & a different art style than he was usually teamed with?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 2, 2018 11:13 AM
Well, I guess Peter David DOES kinda like to put a twist on things, or have his characters do so. So it wouldn't surprise me terribly if he had at least pitched the Flash idea to Mantlo or something, but either way it's a conversation between a former bully in denial and a longtime victim. Flash IS deluding himself, big time, but it follows the storyline in which his mindset's a bit more twisted than usual. C'mon, the guy's cheating on his wife with Betty Leeds, a married woman herself, and not only is he unable to own up, he actually accuses SHA SHAN of being unfaithful TO HIM! So yeah, typical guilt-transferring behavior: fool yourself into believing you're the victim till you turn the tables on those you've wronged. Tom DeFalco did a solid job on ASM showing Flash's self-involve persecution complex. Ned berates him for going out with his wife, he responds saying it's his own fault. Ned protests, he punches him. Sha Shan calls Peter for solace, Flash accuses her of seeing him. She confronts him with his actual affair with Betty, he smacks her. She leaves home, he gets furious. She's hospitalized after being terrorized by the Hobgoblin, he scolds at her for ditching him. She slaps him, sends him away, and he lashes out against the Hobgoblin on national TV. Sure, Hobgob's a fiendish monster, but part of Flash's fury was overcompensation for his own misdeeds against Sha Shan. Would Mantlo build upon the motif? Sure, but maybe the specific idea came about in a brainstorm.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 2, 2018 2:59 PM
Parts of the story strike me as Priest's idea- he did the whole "rehabilitate-an-attempted-rapist" plot in Falcon, so maybe he also came up with the general plot as well as the Peter-provoked-his-bullying idea?
Posted by: Michael | May 2, 2018 7:59 PM
I didn't know Flash had all this history, but it's disturbingly consistent with what I have read. He believes he can do no wrong and redirects blame-- no inconsistency there. The hot pants and short shirt fit right in with his well-established narcissistic and self-flattering self-image. Not given to self-reproach or introspection-- check. Delusional-- check. Flash doesn't see himself as a bit player in Puny Parker's melodrama. Flash is the star hero of his own melodrama.
I was never a big Flash fan, but on the other hand I'm saddened to see this sordid treatment of his character. Not a great treatment of the Betty Leeds character either. I don't think these characters were intended for this kind of treatment or deserve it. But hey that's comics.
Posted by: Holt | May 2, 2018 9:07 PM
That's an interesting theory, Michael. Never having read much of Falcon's adventures, I'm not familiar with the "rehabilitate-an-attempted-rapist" story, but I'd like to see how well it played out. ChrisKafka doesn't seem to think this one did. As for Flash's bullying here's certainly no rehabilitation at this point. It's not until he's framed by the Hobgoblin and arrested by Lt. Keating that he truly hits rock bottom, thereby having to reexamine the mess he made of things. He was openly accepting blame for what happened to Sha Shan as early as Peter's bachelor party, so eventually there was some character growth. I don't know if he ever acknowledged his past as a cruel school bully, but at this point he is being so thickheaded that it's dubious if any of the creators actually expected us to swallow his swill. Chris (just plain Chris) thinks they didn't, and ChrisW's assessment that Peter had snubbed Liz Allen still can't justify Flash's narrowness. If anything, Flash resented that Liz preferred Peter and what really drove him crazy was the impression of reciprocity. Peter didn't disregard Liz, he simply got himself another girlfriend--Betty Brant herself, as a matter of fact! What bothered Flash was that Peter didn't ignore Liz ENOUGH.
As for Flash himself being victim of abuse, when exactly was it established that Officer Thompson was a violent wretched drunkard?
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 2, 2018 11:31 PM
Flash's dad was shown to be abusive in Spectacular Spider-Man -1, by DeMatteis, in 1997.
Posted by: Michael | May 3, 2018 12:23 AM
All of your Flash discussion made me wonder how much of a bully Flash was in those early days. I havent read all of the Ditko Spider-mans but mostly remember Flash in those as looking over his shoulder while talking to other kids, joking about "puny parker". Bad, but pretty low on the bully scale. I know he and Pete had a boxing match after Flash broke his glasses. Flash half-heartedly apologised and Pete was rightously angry, but still low on the bully totem.
Posted by: kveto | May 3, 2018 2:55 PM
@Michael: Wow, that's fairly recent. I'd imagine they'd've given him a richer back story much earlier than that. Of course, there were still some dolts writing Flash as a guy who no longer needed to hang around with Pete BECAUSE HARRY OSBORN HAD ALREADY DIED. (WTF, WTF??)
@kveto, there are some real telling moments in Ditko's apogee that needed no more than a few panels. Flash once tried to beat Peter up for hanging out with Liz Allen. Of course, Peter dodged the punch and Flash hit Dr. Strange instead, of all people. Well, not hit HIT, 'cause the Doc was going astral.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 3, 2018 4:48 PM
One problem with saying exactly how much of a "bully" Flash was is that (barring later continuity inserts) almost everything we have of Flash being mean to Peter happens after the Spider-bite, and most of it happens after ASM #8 where Peter hits Flash twice, the first time knocking him flying out of the boxing ring & the second time knocking him unconscious for several minutes.
Both of those events immediately change the power balance, because Peter gets more confident after he gains powers. We see a lot of Peter being unafraid of Flash and insulting him back, but before he had the powers, Peter probably was a lot less willing to answer Flash back, because you can make a witty comeback but then the bully might just beat you up instead. After the Spider-bite, he knows Flash is no threat to him, but presumably Flash could have beaten him up before.
Similarly, after ASM #8 where Flash is unable to land a punch on Peter, but Peter is able to knock him out, Flash is going to be a lot less brave than he was. Even if his cronies are convincing him he only got KO'd because he wasn't looking, Flash will remember waking up with a sore head, suddenly not so sure that Peter is no threat to him. There's a few scenes with Flash's cronies telling Flash that he can beat up that Puny Parker (though they never seem brave enough to do anything much themselves, they just seem to want to get Flash to do it), but after ASM #8 you have to wonder if Flash 100% believes it himself.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 4, 2018 9:40 AM
That said, it is true that Flash is rarely physical with Peter, more constantly needling him. In ASM #4, Peter briefly gets angry enough to nearly get in a fight with Flash, and Flash says he's been waiting for this, before Peter calms down & realises he is too strong to fight Flash without hurting him and backs down. In the next issue, Flash dresses up as Spider-Man to scare Peter, thinking that since Peter is "too yellow to fight", this will be another way to make Peter a laughing stock.
In ASM #8, before their boxing match, Flash comments that he's been waiting months to get Peter to agree to a fight, so he's going to enjoy this. So in all these early issues it seems that Flash is trying to provoke Peter into a fight, but he's not going to actually start the fight unless Peter "agrees" to fight him.
However, in ASM #25, Flash is jealous of Liz's interest in Peter & tells him that he will be waiting to fight him after school that day, and "you better be there". When Peter doesn't turn up, Flash & his cronies spend much of the rest of the evening chasing him & trying to find him. When Liz says she'll never talk to Flash again if he beats Peter up, Flash says he will be satisfied if Peter just admits he ran away because he was chicken, but before that he does seem to actually want to fight Peter.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 4, 2018 9:58 AM
In ASM #26, Peter again gets angry & tackles Flash & his gang to the ground before coming to his senses. When a teacher blames Peter for it, Peter takes full responsibility, though interestingly, Flash overhears this and tells the teacher he had provoked Peter. Two issues later, Peter thanks Flash for this, but Flash claims it was just that he wouldn't let anyone take the rap for him and he'd be happy if they threw Peter out otherwise.
I've missed some encounters out, but those are some of the Flash v Peter bullying scenes that stick out. So it is true that while Flash is happy to insult, ostracise & target Peter, he is usually trying to provoke Peter to fight him, but not starting the fight himself if Peter doesn't agree to it.
In any case, as Chris says above, I think it's a good piece of writing because it is probably how someone like Flash would have seen it in real life, people rarely see themselves as the bad guy. It's an interesting spin on things that does include some elements of truth (Peter on more than one occasion is so troubled that he doesn't even hear classmates talking to him, so will have come across as "stuck up"), but I don't think we're meant to believe that it's true, only that Flash believes that it's true.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 4, 2018 10:14 AM
IMO, verbal abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse. One affects you emotionally, the other affects you physically. However, both kinds "knock down" your self-confidence. Flash was bullying Peter. Even if he never bullies anyone else, it still counts.
Posted by: CLYDE | May 4, 2018 10:57 AM
Absolutely. Lots of abuse is psychological, and "provoking" the subjects into physical response that they get blamed/punished for is a common bullying technique. I can't be the only 40-year-old visitor to this site, who read Marvel as a kid, who knows this first hand... Flash's justification might in contemporary terms be considered "gaslighting," though there might be some self-delusion as well.
Posted by: cullen | May 4, 2018 4:46 PM
Just to be clear, I wasn't saying Flash wasn't a bully because he is only occasionally physical with Peter, just clarifying how many of his encounters with Peter were portrayed.
It is true that most of their encounters are Flash and a gang of cronies calling Peter a wimp or a bookworm etc rather than threats of violence, but that is still a form of bullying.
Incidentally, it's not quite true that Flash is only aggressive towards Peter: ASM #24 features Flash threatening a Bugle reporter that he believes is only collecting negative opinions on Spider-Man. Flash is in fact correct to believe this, but he has little evidence of that before jumping to that conclusion & telling the reporter that "you better print" what Flash has told him and that he'll give the reporter a "fat lip" if he continues to only collect negative reviews. So he is a somewhat aggressive young man even if he is not portrayed as a general delinquent.
Immediately following that, Flash sees Liz and Peter talking and thinks there's no worth in beating up Peter now with no-one there to see it, but he will someday when there's a crowd around.
Negative views of Spider-Man and Liz showing an interest in Peter seem to be the two things that are most likely to make Flash aggressive, later in the issue Flash sees JJJ and starts protesting his coverage of Spidey, and while he doesn't threaten JJJ, he does continue to chase JJJ even when JJJ has broke into a sprint to get away from him.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 4, 2018 5:55 PM
Jonathan, son of Kevin makes a good point; Flash is prone to aggression, and that's what makes him a bonafide school bully @$$hole: you can argue that it's not ok to wallop a Bugle reporter (maybe even Jameson, but I dunno), but there's reason to be pissed at him. Spider-Man has been slandered mercilessly and gratuitously, and that also grinds my gear. But Peter hasn't done anything to Flash, and Flash himself is gratuitous and merciless in his bullying. So I'm sure he has to lie to himself in order to set him apart from the Jameson's of the world. And the fact that he'd rather kick Peter's ass in front of a/his crowd shows he's really proud of his bullying. In fact, it shows that it's not enough to hit Peter, he needs to humiliate him in front of everybody. So Flash is his own definition of a bully, to a T. He needs it to feel big.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 4, 2018 6:31 PM
We probably should have "forumed" this discussion long ago, but I can see Flash easily deluding himself. People rarely see themselves as the "bad guy".
I actually thought Flash was a better friend than Harry generally. Harry never came off as sympathetic.
Posted by: kveto | May 5, 2018 3:15 AM
I would argue that Harry's problems are much different than Flash's. He has psychological issues as well as addiction issues. But, he still treated Peter better in the beginning.
Posted by: clyde | May 7, 2018 11:57 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|