Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual (1979) #4

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Well, I’ve finally found something Bill Mantlo can write–little old ladies.

This issue is mostly about Aunt May and her mysterious behavior. Turns out her pre-Ben Parker boyfriend is back and sending her love letters and causing these very distracting walks down memory lane. Of course, New York’s in different shape than it used to be, so Peter and Nathan are freaking out. Spidey follows her, things get resolved.

It’s funny how well Mantlo writes May’s stuff, given how he overwrites the rest of the issue (and inexplicably retells Spider-Man’s origin). He doesn’t take any time to make Nathan sympathetic–he seems like a nasty old man–and Peter’s barely present.

The art’s fine, with some nice detail on the thirties New York panels.

Oddly, there’s the implication May never truly loved Ben Parker.

The Black Cat backup is moronic and infantile, though Randall’s art is decent.