Brought to us completely by Chris Giarrusso
Cover Dated February 2002
When these were originally published as part of the Marvel Bullpen, a page in Marvel Comics that would state what upcoming titles were and any other news. A practice I miss these days. Marvel brings it back every so often, especially with crossovers as it is an easy way to show a checklist and what other issues and how they relate to each other. So this issue has a brand new 28 page feature and then reprints 54 reprints from the Bullpen Bits along with some reprints that showed up in the back of issues of What Ifs.
Kitty shows up in the new story and there is a reprint of one that has Illyana in it. The main plot to many a Mini-Marvel was the adventures of Spider-Man as he did his paper route for the Baily Bugle. These were always a treat, and even when I’m doing older issues, I will make a point to read these as they appear. I remember when there was a new one, and being excited. I probably didn’t realize it at the time, being young and all, that if you bought five comics that week, you were going to get the same Bullpen page and so it makes sense that it would only be a different one per week or two weeks – I’m not sure how they broke down. It was probably a new Bullpen Bulletin each week. In the 80s, they would just do the one for the entire month with the tiniest of fonts.
This story opens with Spider-Man dreading trying to deliver Norman, the Green Golbin, Osborn’s newspaper. It is an ordeal every single time.
I do like how Giarrusso has Spider-Man always in costume but J. Jonah Jameson, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy and Aunt May all refer to him as Peter even with the costume on. Aunt May worries over Peter eventually having a run in with Spider-Man, even though he is sitting right next to her in full costume. That’s later in the issue though. Norman, also in full Green Goblin costume, refers to Spider-Man as Peter as well as Peter does the same to Norman.
Goblin crashes through the roof. Spider-Man apologizes to Harry and delivers his newspaper.
Aunt May and Spider-Man eat dinner. Jameson calls Peter to the Daily Bugle. Aunt May warns Peter to watch out for Spider-Man, as she sees him swing away.
Jameson tells Peter, in full costume, that he has costumers who are weeks, months and even a year behind in payments. If he doesn’t get paid, he will lose his paper route to Venom.
His first stop is Gwen’s house. She pays up for the rest of the month. He knew he could count on his girlfriend. Harry shows up to her door with flowers. Spider-Man takes this opportunity to ask Harry for his payment. He pays up and Spider-Man swings off. I absolutely love the nervous energy of Harry in the scene as Gwen is calm and Spider-Man is oblivious.
We get to the scene I kept this issue for. Spider-Man goes to Xavier’s. Of course, the X-Men are playing baseball. Kitty is up next to bat, she is wearing a cute pink outfit with matching mask that shows her face but gives her little cat ears.
Spider-Man confronts Xavier, who is wearing a shirt that looks like Captain Picard’s shirt but with a giant X on it. Xavier plays with Spider-Man’s mind, making him believe the X-Men are paid up.
Wolverine confronts Xavier about the mind tampering. Wolverine pays their bill and he will come along with Spider-Man for the rest of the day.
Rogue and Psylocke think Spider-Man is cute. Storm isn’t sure, with his mask and all.
Norman is upset with Harry for paying Spider-Man. Harry explains that he paid him so that Spider-Man wouldn’t notice Harry was going out with his girlfriend. All Norman hears is, girlfriend, and takes off on his glider with Gwen in tow. Of course, now, I can’t see Gwen and Norman on the page together without thinking about Sins Past. Not sure how any one can be a fan of Gwen after that terrible storyline.
Spider-Man and Wolverine get to Four Freedom Plaza. Ben Grimm is walking around in his human form, so the two don’t recognize him. The other three members are sad that they are down a member. Then before their eyes, Ben transforms into the Thing. Which depresses him. He wants to leave and offers Spider-Man and Wolverine a ride in the Fantasicar. Page ends with a great sight gag of Reed holding a recently fired gun with the label, cosmic rays, on it.
The three arrive at the Avengers Mansion. Captain America answers the door, sees them, and shouts – Avengers Assemble! Which they do, and then are disappointed that Spider-Man only wants to be paid. Iron Man asks Jarvis to cut a check.
Wolverine asks Cap where Hawkeye is. Cap informs him that Hawkeye is leading the Thunderbolts. Cap shows yesterday’s newspaper with the headline, Government to Hawkeye : No Way! Hawkeye thought if he lead this team, he could get them all pardons. Which actually happened in that title.
Cut to Hawkeye lying to the Thunderbolts, that they are going to get pardons. Mach-Two sees the Fantasicar with the three heroes now joined by Captain America. He offers to blow up the car, which irritates Hawkeye. The Thunderbolts are suppose to be reforming, but their first instincts are to revert to bad guy tactics.
Just like at that point in the title, the Thunderbolts are living in a mountain base in Mount Charteris, Colorado.
Spider-Man wants to be paid. Hawkeye doesn’t have the money. The rest of the team feels they shouldn’t have to pay, as they didn’t received yesterday’s newspaper. Captain America offers to give them his copy. Hawkeye quickly pays Spider-Man, grabs the paper and shoves them out the door. Love the unspoken story reason for this.
These two pages start and end the same way, with Mach-Two offering to blow up the Fantasicar as it leaves.
Spider-Man goes back to Jameson with all the money. Jameson is impressed and surprised. He didn’t think Peter could do it, so he already gave Venom half of Peter’s route. Jameson pays Peter for his work.
On the way home, Green Goblin gets Spider-Man’s attention as he has Gwen on top of the George Washington Bridge. Norman wants his son’s money back, which is the same amount Peter just got paid. He gives up the money, but Gwen still gets pushed off the bridge.
Harry, in a Green Goblin costume of his own, catches Gwen.
Spider-Man tears Norman’s goblin bag, setting off all of his bombs. Harry is upset that Spider-Man just killed his father, so he tells him how Gwen is his girlfriend now.
Spider-Man goes into the river and saves Norman. Norman chokes Spider-Man, throws him to the ground and flies away.
Spider-Man catches his breathe as The End appears. Then it gets crossed out, as he still has today’s paper to deliver. Such a fun 28 pages.
. . .
Then we are treated to the first Mini Marvels that appeared in issues of What If?.
I like the one about What If instead of being teased by the kids being called Daredevil, what if they called Murdock, Dorkface. That’s funny.
There is a page from an Essential Wolverine, making fun of how poor a disguise Patch is.
Then a slew of the Bullpen Bits are printed.
I had forgotten how many storylines had happened. They started having their own continuity.
Stories that included Hawkeye making fun of Thor and being jealous of Captain America.
Thanos wanting to date Death.
Spider-Man’s paper route and him getting the black costume, it is living ink. How him getting a new costume – Nova and Hawkeye want and get new costumes.
Colossus drawing comic strips that no one likes.
Beast and how he keeps making formulas that cause him to change his appearance.
Comic ends with a plug for Mini Marvel Movies, that Illyana and her two brothers appear in.
Back cover ad is for Burger King Kids’ Meals now with X-Men Evolution toys and DVDs. Unfortunately, no Kitty Pryde toy.
. . .
With this, Captain America Month comes to an end! Next month, Days of Future Past Month!