Christmas Comics Cavalcade: A Very Spidey Christmas In ‘Spider-Man’s Tangled Web’ #21

by Tony Thornley

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And to celebrate for the month of December, we’re going to rebrand the Classic Comics Cavalcade to Christmas Comics Cavalcade. To kick the month off, we’re going to look at a hidden gem from a comics legend.

Darwyn Cooke is one of the most legendary creators in comics history. He’s best known for reinventing Selena Kyle with Ed Brubaker and his seminal Silver Age homage DC: New Frontier. He passed in 2016, but he left behind some amazing comics. Unfortunately for Marvel fans, he only ever illustrated six issues at the publisher. Thankfully, one of those issues is Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #21, the second to last issue of the series.

Alongside Jay Bone and Matt Hollingsworth, this holiday tale of the Amazing Spider-Man in the middle of a snowstorm should be on everyone’s holiday reading list. After rescuing a small group of children from the blizzard, Peter Parker waits out the storm in the middle of the Daily Bugle’s Christmas party. Meanwhile Sue Richards takes the Wasp and Crystal shopping while Reed tries to find Medusa. The two batches of heroes are about to crash into one another though when the Puppet Master tries to steal Christmas!

This is an incredibly gorgeous single issue. Cooke was a master storyteller, and on the page that’s evident. This Christmas tale captures Marvel’s New York beautifully. It feels like a classic Christmas special, and an homage to Marvel in the 60’s and ’70s. It’s an absolutely stunning issue.

The weaker side of the issue is unfortunately in the writing. Plot-wise, there’s actually very little Spider-Man. This is really half of a Daily Bugle story and half a Fantastic Four story. A little more Spidey, especially in the final brawl through New York’s famous Macy’s, would have added a lot to the story. Also unfortunate is how Cooke wrote Sue Storm-Richards. Sue’s character motivations were trying not to get sad that her action figure’s butt was too big and getting home in time to glaze her Christmas ham. Sue had grown past that by 2002, and it was a bummer to see a story this reductive.

That aside, it’s a very fun issue, and a great way to kick off the Christmas season for any Spider-Man fan.

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