Spider-Man’s villains have always served as a detriment to his personal life. Many formidable villains, including the Green Goblin, Electro, Doctor Octopus, and the Lizard, have all sworn to ruin Spider-Man’s life in some way, with their battles even getting personal at some points. However, in a 1985 story, Spider-Man takes on an unsuspecting foe, one who ends up causing him more trouble than expected: the suburbs.
In The Amazing Spider Man #267 (By Peter David and Bob McLeod), the Web Slinger is faced with going to the suburbs and tracking down a shuttle robber in a story titled The commuter is coming. However, Spidey doesn’t realize that if he goes to the suburbs, some of the advantages he has in the city will be lost.
The story begins with Spider-Man complaining about his split from Black Cat to Johnny Storm. After the two breakups, Spider-Man looks into the window of a nearby store and sees a man rob his safe. He leaves after the criminal tags him with a spider-tracer. The story then cuts to a juxtaposition of Spider-Man and the mugger named Ron. Ron returns home with a seemingly happy life with his family, while Spider-Man is home alone, showing that a hero’s life isn’t always one of contentment. The next morning, Peter finds the tracer, but realizes it is outside the city limits.
He jumps on a train and travels to the suburb of Scarsdale. Upon arrival at his destination, he jumps off, ends up in someone’s backyard, and is nearly attacked by their guard dog before quickly tying him up. He then tries to swing the web, but there are no objects long enough to grab onto. As a result, he decides that he will make his way through the city by jumping over trees, although he ends up breaking the trunk of the first tree he jumps on.
It seems that even outside the city Spider-man can’t escape his image as a threat, because after this the head of the local neighborhood watch comes over and puts him under civilian arrest. Finally, he manages to escape and continues his search for the criminal. The strange happenings continue when he decides to hop on the roof of a city bus for a ride, but the driver stops and insists he pay. With no money in his suit, he instead asks for a lift from a passing garbage truck.
He eventually gets close to the tracer, but the signal is suddenly lost when Ron finds it and crushes it. While complaining about the loss of the tracer, he sees Ron getting into his car. He gets a taxi and gives chase, catches the mugger and saves the day. After the commotion, the locals come out and complain about all the chaos Spider-Man has caused. At the end of the song, he expresses his distaste for the suburbs and can’t wait to get back to the city.
The events narrated in this issue put Spider-Man in an interesting situation. One of the reasons Stan Lee chose to establish Spider-Man in New York City was the tall buildings that played into his ability to swing. The story shows that if he had been located elsewhere, Spider-Man’s web shooters might not have been the best invention in his crime quest. The song was partially adapted in the Spider-Man: Homecoming film, in which Peter follows the Vulture’s men through the suburbs. During this sequence, he finds himself in the backyards of the locals and runs across a golf course to find the villains. In one scene, a car can be seen with the license plate “ASM 267” that refers to this particular problem.
As a whole, The Amazing Spider Man #267 once again demonstrates that New York City is an essential part of Spider-Man’s character and role as protector of the city. New York City itself is just such a character as Spider-Man himself, as is Gotham City’s role for Batman or Metropolis for Superman. Ultimately, Spider-Man’s pursuit of the commuting criminal shows that he might be better off against villains in the friendly environment of the city itself.