Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, # 23

Spider-Man has many enemies– many of whom he shares a dichotomy with. Venom is his antithesis, Green Goblin his arch-nemesis. However no character shares as interesting a rivalry with Spider-Man as J. Jonah Jameson. Jameson was Peter Parker’s employer at The Daily Bugle and an ardent critic of the web slinging hero. Jameson always had it out for Spider-Man even when he had little to say about other heroes like Daredevil or the Fantastic Four. But his resentment for Spider-Man became all the more real and bitter for both characters when Spider-Man revealed his secret identity as Peter Parker during the Civil War arch.

Iron Man, Tony Stark, convinced Parker and many of their comrades to reveal their identities so that they could join the Federal workforce as part of licensed and bonded super heroes. Instead endearing Spider-Man to Jameson by merging him with Parker, the idea alienated Jameson from Peter and made enemies of the two men. Jameson felt betrayed and this brought his famous anger to a head.

In this issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, the two men have it out. Jameson fires a mutual friend, which leads Parker to lure him into a confrontation. Parker had, at this time, lost everything. His decision to change sides and turn against Iron Man’s neo-fascist superhuman union had made him a public enemy. With his identity compromised, he was a hunted man both in and out of costume.

In a crook’s former hideout, Parker confronts Jonah not just about his firing of Robbie Robertson, but also Jameson’s longstanding hatred for Spider-Man and the petty lawsuit that he was bringing against Parker. Peter antagonizes Jonah until he begins to hit him, releasing some of the anger and jealousy he’s had for the man over the years. The outburst unsettles Jameson and when Peter doesn’t fight back, his anger quickly turns to shame. Parker had photographed the entire exchange, and gives the film to Jameson. Their short brawl becomes an allegory for their entire relationship. Jameson pounds on Spider-Man and he never falls. All the while Parker photographs himself and contributes to the pounding. Ultimately, now that both are over, Parker still has his pride but little else. Jameson has everything, except his pride.

It is unclear just how much closure this issue will provide the Spider-Man/J. Jonah Jameson relationship. Comic book writers have selective memories and enjoy retroactively changing continuity. But for now, two classic comic book enemies have reached a meaningful ceasefire, and as the Civil War series showed us, some things changed with can never change back.

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