Reed Richards and Sue Storm make a pretty good couple. So do Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. As much as I like those pairs, Spider-Man and the Human Torch edge them out of the top place on the list of best superhero couples. I refuse to use the word bromance to describe them on principle, but they have a meaningful, hilarious, and sometimes reluctant friendship. All aspects of their relationship are explored in Dan Slott and Ty Templeton’s stories published in Spider-Man / Human Torch: I’m With Stupid, and it is just delightful.
Peter Parker and Johnny Storm are both known for being wise guys who make quips at the worst possible moments. Once you put the two of them together, well, let’s just say I haven’t laughed out loud over a comic book this much in a while. The collection is comprised of five issues that take place in different time periods so you can see how their friendship changes. They go from being two guys who can’t stand each other to two guys who are good enough pals that their families hang out with each other. Plenty of twists and turns come at them along the way, and while the book is humorous, there are heavier themes too. Yes, it’s more than possible to do both.
Back to those laugh out loud moments, there are so many scenes in the five issues that made me happy. Slott and Templeton infused the art with emotion. The first few pages with Johnny Storm practically scream arrogance, and panels where Spider-Man is speaking to the deceased Gwen Stacy are written and illustrated in just the right way to punch you in the gut. That particular sequence from “Auto Motives” highlights a touching moment when Peter tells Gwen about how hanging out with Johnny Storm makes him feel like himself again. Awww.
The same issue also has the most amusing scenes. Spidey gets a deal with Carter & Lombardo to promote Corona Motors by building a Spider-Mobile. Johnny helped him put the vehicle together and then gives him a driving lesson. It’s comedy gold. Spider-Man is awful at navigating the streets, so much so that Johnny has to lecture him – which is not an action you associate with Johnny Storm. My favorite moment comes towards the end when Spidey has to parallel park in a hurry. He’s never done it before, and as the duo bickers about it, they seem like a parent and child.
As terrific as the antics and witty banter are, there’s more to the stories than lighthearted moments. Slott nailed both the jokes and the heavier notes. Peter grapples with the loss of Gwen and his role in how it happened, Johnny opens up (a little) about his feelings for Crystal, the two talk about being jealous of each other, and oh yeah, there are plenty of battles with villains along the way packed with dynamic eye candy. Templeton does an amazing job communicating movement with his art; I felt caught up in every fight. Add all of those elements up, and you get a collection of some of the most fun Spidey stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
I leave you with Spider-Man reacting to meeting Paste-Pot Pete. Best or best?
(image via Comic Book Resources)