Background (Amazing Spider-Man #692-694)
Mirroring much of his own circumstances in becoming Spider-Man, Peter Parker conducts an experiment in front of a group of Midtown High students when an accident occurs and a student is given superpowers. Feeling that it is his responsibility, Spider-Man agrees to train the young man stylized as Alpha to become a hero instead of a threat, but the teen would rather have fame and fortune than responsibility and compassion. After dealing with the return of famed cloner and mad-scientist the Jackal, Alpha emancipates himself from his parents and becomes a cultural icon as well as a hero-in-the-making, but despite taking out a huge threat to the Avengers, he continues to put civilians in harm’s way, prompting Spider-Man to find a way to neutralize him. In the end, Spider-Man tells Alpha that he can be a hero again in the future, but only after he has learned to take responsibility for his powers.
Given that it was only a three-issue storyline, there wasn’t much to really look into in terms of Alpha or his background, and thus I felt as though the story was a little rushed for the importance it represented. Here was a character that basically was a “what if” in regards to how Spider-Man might have acted had he not had the influences of great role models such as his aunt and uncle, but it wasn’t fully explored in any measurable way. An even more important aspect is that this is the first—and hopefully only—time that Spider-Man has a sidekick, and I felt that there could have been so much more done with the situation than what was presented. This is a character that is renowned for being a loner most of the time, teaming-up only when he really has to, so the fact that he was training someone—mentoring them, shaping them, showing them what’s what—it just seemed as though there could have been a more in-depth look at the situation, though I will say that I'm glad it didn’t end up with Alpha being a permanent fixture in Spider-Man’s life.
Spider-Man’s decision to depower Alpha is also very unusual in what I’ve come to regard as his sense of style and personal responsibility. Yes, the accident was in a way his fault (not completely, though), but Parker’s always strived to find solutions to his problems that didn’t result in such a clear violation of his inner ethics. This type of decision has to have lasting repercussions for him, but so far I haven’t seen any in the follow-up issues; I only hope that there’s some type of consequences shown in the Marvel NOW! Spider-Man series coming up or else I’m going to be disappointed that they brushed the subject off.