When I look back at the past year, it’s been interesting. Since this time last year, we’ve seen Peter Parker die, Otto take over, Scarlet Spider, Venom and Morbius get cancelled. For an entire year and 22 issues, we’ve not had The Amazing Spider-Man on the shelves for the first time in 50 years. Til now. Join me as we take a look at Amazing Spider Man 701. Err sorry Bertone, 700.1. More after the jump.
Amazing Spider-Man 700.1
Written By: David Morrell
Art by: Klaus Janson
Colors by: Steve Bucellatto
Review by Zach “Spideydude” Joiner
STORY: It’s November in New York. Peter’s tired but he presses on during his patrol. The next day he goes to the bugle to see Jonah. He gets his assignment (which amounts “to go get me pictures you baffon!”) and sees Aunt May. A major snowstorm rolls in. But Peter sleeps through the beginning of it. For once theres no need for Spider-Man, at least he thinks. A fire breaks out and the firemen are having trouble in the weather. The power out is knocked in Queens, Peter worries about May, and while Peter can’t reach her, Spider-Man can.
THOUGHTS: First off, I want to say Welcome Back Peter Parker. Because DAMN I missed you. When this was first advertised, I thought “Eh, this is going to suck. I might pick it up.” I had a fairly light week and on a whim I purchased the issue. And to be honest, I was plesantly surprised. I mean, really surprised. Perhaps its the fact that there isn’t any BS and this is Peter-as-Spider-Man, but I really enjoyed a back-to-basics type story that can fit in at anytime in the history of Spider-Man. One of the things that has been missing in the Superior Spider-Man is the fact that New York is its own character. Think about it. Its so insane and structured that one of the major parts of Spider-Man lore has been largely ignored or lost since Otto took it over. I get it, Otto isn’t one to smell the roses and he’s too busy being ‘Superior’ to notice the wonder and beauty of the city, that its hard for one to even attempt to focus on it when you have Goblins, Alchemex, Carlie Cooper, MJ and Pedro, and Stunner running around. Who has time to focus on the character of New York when you have a whole island to yourself?! Or your own company to run? Its really too bad because its been the one constant, no matter who donned the costume, whether it be Ben or Mattie or Peter. Its not a huge indictment, but it is the central part of this story and It’s something I enjoy very much. In fact, its the whole best part of the story in my opinion. The parts that focus on the City are outstanding and it made me miss these types of simple stories. It’s not building towards the next “YOU HAVE TO BUY IT” book, its just simple and nice to have a story where you can hand it to someone and not spend 45 minutes explaining the situation.
After 10 years of the end of the world everything is going to change storytelling, its refreshing to get the story of the urban-ness of Spider-Man. It is sorely lacking over the last few years and I have missed it. On another note I found that this issue is incredibly new-reader-friendly and in that regard, I can’t recommend this highly enough. While we’ve seen the parallels of Spider-Man suiting up even when he doesn’t want to, it was fun to have the parallel between New York’s finest and Spider-Man. For much of his history Spider-Man because of his urban nature has been compared to the men and women who are first responders who go out and risk everything to protect and serve. While Spider-Man is a Vigilante, and he’s not sanctioned by anyone, he still risks his neck for people who do not know him, but know he’s good. Of course, for every saved kitten there is a Jonah who will tear him down, much like he did for his issue when discussing the property damage that Peter’s work as Spider-Man has caused. It’s the catch-22 and the Luck of Parker coming right on out in a natural organic way. None of the scenes in this issue felt forced and the drama of Aunt May being home alone in this driving storm is only highlighted more by the scenes earlier in the book where Peter visits her. While Peter is fine staying home, he realizes that he must suit up and check on his maternal figure who may be in trouble. Where this does not work is the use of the Spider-Sense, which seems to indicate that Peter is connected to May via that. Its relatively minor but it bears mentioning that it was the only thing that stuck out to me as off about this issue, writing wise.
Klaus Janson isn’t a stranger to the Marvel Universe, or Spider-Man. He’s inked countless issues and I’ve particularly enjoyed his inks with Jazzy John Romita Jr. (See Lost Years and you’ll know why.) One of his biggest strengths in this issue is how he addresses the city. It’s grim, gritty, and grimy. It isn’t polished, or pretty its magnificently urban and it really does pop at you. However, my biggest con would be his people. I’ve noticed lately with artists who ink themselves in recent issues (I’m looking at Stegman) have been much looser with the inking than at times with tighter inkers. Because Janson did both the pencils and inks, he didn’t ‘clean-up’ the artwork and in my opinion, it only works on the larger scale. When we get to the scenes with Jonah, or Aunt May, the art starts to tighten up, but unfortunately not enough for my tastes. Janson has adopted this ‘loose’ style and in my opinion hampered the Bendis/Romita Avengers run.
Finally a minor quibble but this numbering BS has got to stop. Making this a point one issue because you want to write issue 701 is dumb dumb dumb. The whole numbering system is a mess and its distracting. Solid issue. Is it worth 3.99? It depends on if you think that Peter should be Spider-Man. Not Doc Ock. If you are a fan of all things Spider-Man, both new and old, you’ll find that this was a refreshing take after a year of the Superior worldview. It’s only part one so let’s hope that it gets even better.