Writer – Peter David
Pencils – Mark Beachum
Ahh, out of Secret Wars 2, back into street level drama. A Christmastime story. Spidey collars a petty thief at the mall (or mall type area). He begs to be let go. Spider-Man knows that’s a bad idea (everyone he lets go seems to go and do more bad stuff, he even references the Black Fox who we’ll see again soon). However, the girl who the kid robbed DOES let him go, and he immediately pickpockets her. An ominous beginning. Trust nobody?
A lot happens in this story. Joy kisses Pete, but seeing her set off his spider-sense. Kate Cushing still hates his photography and lack of reliability. She suggests he get a beeper. Aunt May and Peter STILL miscommunicate and make separate plans for Christmas. Robbie’s son Randy is coming home (with a surprise) (tense), Cushing is smothered by JJJ, and things at the bugle are tense.
This starts an arc about an abused child and the adults around him. Mr. Estevez, Alex’s teacher, is concerned about Alex’s bruises, and has started legal proceedings. His dad threatens to start gay rumors about Mr. Estevez.
Santa at the mall is a crook, using what he learns from kids to rob their parents. Harry and Liz are overwhelmed with little Normie.
This also starts an arc about the Black Cat. She stops a robbery (and is called Black Widow) and gives the stolen coats to homeless people.
Randy’s surprise to his parents is revealed to be that he’s married (surprise 1) to a white woman (surprise 2). He thinks dad will be cool, mom not so much.
Finally, a fight. Bad Santa robs Bambi, Peter’s neighbor. He escapes to the top floor where he meets the REAL Santa, who takes him away, gives him a (personality) makeover, and everything ends well. Peter calls his Aunt, they have Christmas with the Watsons, and other than the criminals with knives hiding in the bushes, it’s a happy ending.
Holy crap, that was a big story for 22 pages. Peter David gets on a bit of a roll here.