Sam Strange Remembers: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Sam Strange brings you the mildly exciting adventures of Spider-Man Jr.

A lot of people don't understand why I'd want to revisit the Spider-Man story after knocking it so thoroughly out of the park two different times already. Call me crazy, but I just like the ol' webhead. I wouldn't mind sticking with the franchise for the rest of my career. On top of that, some asshole took Spider-Man 3 from me and really stunk up the joint.

I didn't really have a good idea for Spider-Man 4, and the original cast was still pretty steamed over how part 3 went. So I had to start from scra... wait a minute. Reading my memories of Spider-Man 3, I've come to the realization that I didn't make Spider-Man 1 or 2. Just the shitty one.

Let me start over. I decided to make The Amazing Spider-Man because I felt I'd let the fans down with Spider-Man 3, and wanted to atone for my Spider-sins.

I couldn't get the original cast back, so instead of continuing the story directly, I decided to do a legacy sequel. In this one, Peter Parker and Mary Jane are older and they have a son, Peter Parker Jr. Because of something bad that will be explained on the DVD, old Peter and Mary Jane have to leave town suddenly and abandon Peter Jr. with Mary's sister May and brother Ben. Then something bad happens to them that will be explained on the DVD and Peter Jr. becomes an orphan.

Peter Parker Jr. grows up to become just regular old Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield, the world's most handsome gremlin). This Peter Parker loves science and wears glasses, but he isn't quite the nerd his old man was. He skateboards and listens to trendy music and has 879 Facebook friends and beats up bullies. Part of this can be blamed on Mary Jane's genetic influence, but we also cannot discount the cockiness that comes with knowing that long ago your dad was Spider-Man.

Peter is also filled with angst because he wants to be a Spider-Man too. He's spent his whole childhood waiting for it to happen. He assumed it would arrive with his pubes, but when his bush failed to herald superpowers, he turned to more extreme methods, like searching out dangerous looking spiders and letting them bite him repeatedly. This does not work, but he does get lime disease, the consequences of which can be found on the DVD.

One day, Peter goes on a field trip to Oscorp (hosted by his classmate Gwen Stacy who, along with interning at the world's top scientific facility, is also one of New York's premier wine critics and a talent scout for David Letterman). Oscorp is basically the same company it used to be, but now it's run by the butler from Spider-Man 3, who convinced board members that he was Norman Osborn back from the dead, which they just had to accept given all the crazy shit they knew Norman to be into. At Oscorp, Peter sees a bunch of Spider-Man webbing being used as suspension cables. Putting two and two together, he goes off to find the spiders making this wonderful stuff. Eventually, he finds himself in the spider room, a blue cavern filled with spiderman spiders just hanging around waiting to turn some lucky son of a bitch with the right DNA into a spiderman man. Peter Jr. pretty much hit the jackpot. He gets naked, covers himself in dead flies, and gets ready to embrace his destiny.

So now Peter Parker Jr. is Spider-Man Jr. He first tests out his powers by beating up a bunch of people on a subway. It's not easy because his hands accidentally stick to everything. Later he'll learn how to work convenience into his adhesion powers, but for now he has to be really careful while taking a leak.

Next, Peter goes skateboarding. Wow! His powers make him 10% as good a skateboarder as Tony Hawk and 20% better than Lance Armstrong. After that, he kicks ass at all the major high school sports and becomes even more popular. He tells everyone he's Spider-Man, but despite his powers, they still find this hard to believe because he doesn't have a cool costume. He solves this problem by hiring his school's Home Ec class to sew him something like his dad's historic costume only with five years' worth more bumpy lines. He pays for the materials by letting each of them kiss his little bicep.

But soon enough, plot rears its ugly head. See, Peter finally has his spider powers, but something's not right. He can't shoot webs out of his wrist. Instead he has to use these lame-ass webshooters he put together as a temporary solution. In an attempt to figure out why he's not as awesome as he should be, he contacts Dr. Curt Connors, his father's old teacher and eventual science partner at Oscorp. Conners doesn't know anything about why Peter Jr. doesn't have organic webshooters, but he says he does anyway. All Peter needs to do to get answers is find an equation his father once wrote. So Peter finds all his father's boxed up equations and hands them over to Connors, who then laughs at Peter and shoves him out of the room by his face.

See, one of those equations has the power to regrow Curt Connor's lost arm, so he cooks the equation up and injects it. It grows back his arm, but unfortunately turns him into a big lizard, too. If you watch the DVD, you'll see that Peter's dad was always experimenting with animal/human DNA and this lizard ratio just wasn't ever stable enough to work.

But the thing is, Dr. Connors likes being a lizard because his favorite film is Super Mario Bros. To get his revenge on everyone who unfairly maligned the film upon release, he wants to turn the entire city of New York into Koopas like himself. When Peter realizes this, he thinks it's not that big a deal.

And that's how the film would end if a bunch of other stuff didn't happen. See, at home, Peter still lives with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and both are totally aware that Peter has forced his way into following his father's footsteps. New Uncle Ben sadly also realizes what this means for his lifespan. In order to teach Peter how to be a superhero, he blocks a criminal who is running from a robbery. When the criminal's gun falls to the ground, New Uncle Ben grabs it and shoots himself in the guts, making it look like the criminal did it.

Peter sees this happen but comes to New Uncle Ben's aid rather than chase after the bad guy, though he does observe a star tattoo on the bad guy's wrist. The death teaches him a a valuable lesson about responsibility to be explained on the DVD. Afterwards, Peter dedicates the next two days of his life to finding the guy who killed Uncle Ben. The 48 hours go by without any success, so he just gives up because this is a new generation and today's kids are all shitheads. Peter Parker voted for Obama. Peter Jr. likely won't vote at all.

While chasing this guy around New York, however, it finally dawns on Peter that if Connors' lizard ray really works, it might turn him into a Lizard-Spider-Man, which wouldn't be as cool. Much as he doesn't want to, he has to kill The Lizard.

Unfortunately, things aren't that easy. The Lizard is already going around turning innocent New Yorkers into lizards, and they're all blocking Peter's path to the Lizard's big lizard ray. Luckily, a bunch of crane workers are willing to do whatever it takes to help Spider-Man along because they mistake him for the old Spider-Man returned. Their idea is to turn a bunch of giant cranes so Spider-Man can use them to swing past the lizard guys. But Spider-Man doesn't catch this and instead creates a Spider gas using his own blood and turns all the crane workers into super spiders which he sends to battle the lizard guys. It's like this huge Lord of the Rings street brawl between spider guys and lizard guys, and it's pretty awesome in 3D.

As for Dr. Connors, Peter uses his spider powers to find a good perch and shoots him in the head with a sniper gun before he can set off his lizard ray. Case closed.

But as usual, nothing's ever that easy. See, this whole time, Peter's been dating Gwen Stacy. Her dad is Dad Stacy, the chief of police, and he's sent the whole New York police department after Spider-Man. One cop shoots Spider-Man in the leg, but he heals it by running really fast. Then Dad Stacy corners Spider-Man and pulls off his mask to reveal the skinny little turd who's dating his daughter. Just at this moment, though, a not-quite dead Lizard suddenly appears and kills Dad Stacy, who spends his last words begging Peter to stop dating his daughter. Peter pretends to mishear him and impregnates her instead. A lot of stuff happens to their baby, but it's all on the DVD.

As for Dr. Connors, he's in jail, but one of those cult guys from the later Halloween films stops by to say something that won't mean anything until you buy the DVD.

So you should probably buy the DVD.

(three stars)