Greetings, Spidey fans, and welcome to this review of the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man! Okay, technically, this the third very first issue, and if we ignore that we’re living in the All-New Marvel NOW! era, it’s more accurate to say this is really Amazing Spider-Man #701. Or, if you include The Superior Spider-Man, it’s Amazing Spider-Man #732. You know, let me just recap and review this comic before I get even more confused.
“Lucky To Be Alive”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humbero Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
“Capturing That Old Spark”
WRITERS: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
PENCILER: Javier Rodriguez
INKER: Alvaro Lopez
COLORS: Javier Rodriguez
WRITERS: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
PENCILER: Guiseppe Camuncoli
INKERS: John Dell & Cam Smith
COLORS: Antonio Fabela
“How My Stuff Works”
WRITER: Joe Caramagna
ARTIST: Chris Eliopoulos
COLORS: Jim Charalampidis
“Homecoming. Sort of”
WRITER: Peter David
ARTIST: Will Sliney
COLORS: Antonio Fabela
WRITER: Chris Yost
PENCILER: David Baldeon
INKER: Jordi Tarragona
COLORS: Rachelle Rosenberg
“Learning to Crawl: Amazing Reality”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Ramon Perez
COLORS: Ian Herring
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
VARIANT COVERS: Marcos Martin, Ed McGuinness, Pop Mhan, Jerome Opena, Skottie Young, and Alex Ross
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
“LUCKY TO BE ALIVE”: We flashback “13 years ago” to when the radioactive spider bit Peter Parker. However, after it bit Peter, we learn that the spider also bit a teenage girl at the science demonstration just before it died. In the present day, the White Rabbit, along with her new team, “The Menagerie,” which also consists of the Hippo and newcomer, Panda-Mania, have stolen some Faberge eggs and are fleeing the scene. In the commotion, a man and his infant girl almost fall over but are saved by Spidey’s timely arrival. As Spidey attacks the Menagerie and secures the eggs, the onlookers notice that he’s making jokes again. But they also notice that, save for his mask and diaper made of webbing, he’s completely naked.
“Four hours earlier,” Peter holds a press conference at Parker Industries, officially announcing he’s no longer making any more tech for Spider-Man–which pleases both Aunt May and Jay Jameson. Concerned about “Peter’s” being absent for weeks at a time, Jay reminds Peter how much money he’s invested into the start-up and that Peter needs to his job as CEO seriously. Peter, because he can’t reveal that his body was taken over by Doc Ock, reassures Jay he’s making Parker Industries his top priority. Peter also thinks that while he’s still unsure of everything Doc Ock may have done while in his body, he’s more than grateful that Ock was able to repair Aunt May’s leg. Over at Peter’s apartment, Anna Maria arrives looking for Peter, but instead finds an engagement ring and Otto’s pre-planned marriage proposal. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson, having resigned as mayor, his sulking in his home when he realizes he can go back to running the Daily Bugle. However, when he sees the headlines in the Bugle saying how he resigned in disgrace, Jonah declares they’re all “back-stabbing bloodsuckers” and “dead to him.”
Back at Parker Industries, Sajani Jaffrey shows Peter the company’s proposed rollout project on “nanotech cybernetic robots.” Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to Sajani, Peter has no idea how it works as cybernetics was Otto’s field of expertise, not his. He also notices his employees are all terrified of him. Sajani then escorts Peter to his lab and says the first thing they have to do is get rid of all the Spider-Man projects, including the Spider-suits. It’s then Peter learns that SpOck reprogrammed the Living Brain to be his butler and that he has a doctorate from ESU. After Sajani leaves, Peter decides to put on one of his costumes and go web-slinging, and, with his new lease on life, vows that he’s never going to take being Spider-Man for granted again. However, the people of New York, because of SpOck’s actions, consider him a “jack-booted thug.” To get the public back on his side, Spidey goes looking for crime to stop, and that’s when he stumbles upon the Menagerie and their Faberge egg robbery. We see that another member of the Menagerie included Skein, formerly Gypsy Moth, who, as Spidey learns, can control fabrics, and begins unraveling Spidey’s costume. Spidey is able to knock her out before she can destory his mask, but to his horror, he sees that he’s buck naked, and as he webs up a makeshift underpants with his webs, bystanders upload the footage onto the net and television, which get seen by the Avengers, Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, and Mary Jane.
Thus the story comes “full circle” with Spidey apprehending the rest of the Menagerie, but the public is so appalled and disgusted that Spidey has been fighting in the buff that they demand he leave. So Spidey swings back to his apartment and changes back into Peter, only to find, to his surprise, Anna Maria waiting for him. It’s then Peter learns that, not only was she Otto’s girlfriend, they were also living together. And he gets another bombshell—because she saw the footage of the earlier battle on the web, and because she and “Peter” have seen each other naked, she’s now knows that Peter is Spider-Man.
“RECAPTURING THAT OLD SPARK”: Taking place “a couple of night’s ago” Electro enters the Bar With No Name, and the former Hobgoblin franchise villains, now employed by the Green Goblin, are start making fun of him. Because of the bar’s “no fighting rule,” Electro can’t retaliate. When does ask one them to “step outside,” the sympathetic bartender tells him to just ignore them. Later, however, we see that Electro still can’t get over it, so to prove he’s still a top-tier villain, he decides to break out the inmates that have been transferred from the Raft to a prison upstate. However, Electro’s powers overload destroys the prison, killing all the inmates. Believing that “Spider-Man’s” experiments have tampered with his powers, Electro swears revenge.
“CROSSED PATHS”: We follow what happened to Black Cat in the wake of her capture in Superior Spider-Man #20. With Felicia Hardy’s arrest, the police confiscated all the items in her home, and her high-society friends disowned her. But worst of all, she’s learned that “Spider-Man” hasn’t given her a “second thought” and considers her a “common criminal” who is a “waste of his time.” As Felicia tries to adjust to life in prison, and gets regularly taunted by a large female inmate, she preoccupied her thoughts with the advice she learned from her father, and plans to murder Spidey. On the same day that Electro’s planned break-out, Felicia is in her cell, she’s once again being taunted by the female inmate when electricity goes out. Using her bad luck powers, Felicia is able to protect herself from Electro’s lightning bolts, making it destroy the cell next to her and kill the inmate. This also allows Felicia to walk out of the prison unscathed while deflecting the lightning to everyone else. The story ends with Black Cat, in a new costume, stalking Spidey, as she plans to make him pay for what “he” did to her with his life…“but only after I’m done playing with it.”
“HOW MY STUFF WORKS”: Narrated by Spidey, with some “help” from the Hulk, the wall-crawler explains how his powers and web-shooters work. It ends with Spidey shutting up Doc Ock with his webs, and showing us the people who know Spidey’s secret identity whom he can turn to for help (except for the Jackal since he’s a bad guy). But as Spidey swings off and says “see you next issue,” Hulk wants to know where are sandwiches his agent promised him.
“HOMECOMING, SORT OF”: A news helicopter pilot reports of an armored car robbery in progress, only to then learn it’s been thwarted—by Miquel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099. As Miquel swings through New York and notes how much different it is compared to his own time, he sees a woman with pink hair being mugged. She’s manages to mace one of her attackers before being knocked to ground and pinned at gunpoint, and dares the mugger to shoot her. However, Miquel arrives and quickly takes them out. Only when she checks to see if the woman is okay and that she can call the police, she slaps him across the face, saying she didn’t ask for his help. And as she walks away, Miquel wonders “what the shock is wrong with the people in this decade,” but seems intrigued by this woman all the same.
“KAINE”: Peter, disguised in baseball cap and sunglasses, is in Houston trying to look up on Kaine, and is told by the desk clerk from the Four Seasons Hotel that Kaine is a monster—literally, as he turned into a half-man, half-spider creature, which Peter recognizes as “the Other,” the mystical spider-creature Peter himself had rejected. However, Peter also meets Dr. Donald Meland, having recovered from his critical injuries from Kraven the Hunter’s daughter, Ana, but had lost weight and needs a cane. He recognizes Peter as Kaine’s ‘brother” and tells him how Kaine saved his life and took up the mantle of the Scarlet Spider, and that even though Kaine believed he was monster, he was actually a hero all along. Meland encourages Peter to talk to others about Kaine, and thus Peter does, learning all about his “brother’s” exploits. As Peter takes a flight back to New York, he realizes Kaine has turned out to be as much of a hero as himself, and that wherever he is, he’s finally found peace. And the story ends with a shot of Kaine with his new teammates, the New Warriors.
LEARNING TO CRAWL: “AMAZING REALITY”: Taking place during the events of Amazing Fantasy #15, we’re introduced to Clayton Cole, a bright overachiever who aspires to be the first billionaire/physicist/rockstar. He tells his mom he’s going to a physics demonstration, when in fact he goes to the Crusher Hogan wrestling match, the same match where Peter first tried out his new spider-powers. Clayton films the match on his iphone and uploads it to his YouTube channel and gets over 3 million views. Upon reading his comment section that masked wrestler is calling himself “Spider-Man” and that he’s putting on a live TV show, Clayton is one the first in line for the performance. While waiting, Clayton sees the Burglar break into back of the theater, and says declares to the people in line that somebody needs to find a cop. But when it’s suggested that he goes, Clayton doesn’t want to lose his place in line, and when he’s told “no saves,” he decides to forget the whole thing. Inside the auditorium, Clayton watches Spidey perform, and becomes an instant fan. Afterward, he sees Spidey mingling with other fans and a enamored woman partly lifts up Spidey’s mask, exposing the lower half of his jaw. Thus, when Clayton hears Spidey talk, he realizes Spidey is just a kid like him. Clayton manages to get Spidey’s autograph, and tells Spidey how one day, he wants to be just like him. Clayton heads back to his home, and, after framing Spidey’s autograph, begins to make his own costume inspired by Spider-Man’s.
THOUGHTS: So after more than a year of Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man, and fans eagerly waiting for the return of their beloved Peter Parker, how does Marvel and Dan Slott celebrate the relaunching of one of their signature titles and the return of their most popular, iconic character? By not only having their new #1 be stuffed with various back-up stories and filler of various quality for a $5.99 price tag, not only having said same #1 issue be accompanied by an absurd amount of variant covers to artificially boost sales, but by also having the issue’s main story center around an overlong, tedious and forced “Oh my gosh! He’s naked!” gag.
Now look—part of Spider-Man’s charm is that, unlike most superheroes, things don’t always go according to his plans and he can wind up in some rather embarrassing situations. I also appreciate Slott is getting back to a Spidey who makes corny quips and wisecracks while battling his more intentionally ridiculous rogues, especially after the chaos that was the Superior Spider-Man. And I’m certainly not prudish or snobbish enough to enjoy some occasionally crass, juvenile humor. Only in this case, the story of Spidey having to fight a bunch of his more D-list villains in the buff is a one-joke premise that, just like Peter’s tendency for bad puns throughout this issue, tries way too hard to be funny and thus falls completely flat. It’s the textbook example of “beating a dead horse,” and in spite of the slightly amusing reactions from the Avengers, Johnny Storm, and Mary Jane, I was left thinking that maybe we were actually better off with Otto Octavious still under the webs.
Somewhat better is the subplot where Peter comes to grips with the fact that, thanks to Doc Ock, he’s now the CEO of his own company. From Peter’s appreciation to Doc Ock making Aunt May able to walk without a cane, to his surprise of having a PhD and the Living Brain as his personal butler, Slott is able to convey Peter’s “Rip Van Winkle” effect quite well. But again, Slott also feels the need to hammer home the notion that, for as much as Peter may be pleasantly surprised at owning his own business, he’s also in way over his head whether he wants to admit or not. If the partially collapsed front facade of the Parker Industries HQ wasn’t enough heavy-handed symbolism, Jay Jameson once again mentioning how much money he’s invested in the company, Sajani Jaffrey explanation of their roll-out project potentially worth billions, and Peter realizing he’s now responsible for the livelihoods of dozens of employees all but telegraph that it’s not a matter of if, but when Parker Industries crumbles and falls. Let’s not also forget that Parker Industries is also built upon a fraudulent business loan and advanced degree Peter never rightfully earned, and both are bound to come into play later on.
Of course, one can’t really talk about the main story without mentioning its two major developments, the first being the flashback revealing how Peter wasn’t the only person to be bitten by the radioactive spider. Those who read the news out of this year’s C2E2 and read the letter’s page know that this new character is Silk, and that she’ll be featured in Amazing Spider-Man #4 and #5 as part of Marvel’s Original Sin event. The concept that someone else gained the same spider-powers the same way Peter did but lead a drastically different life is a potentially fascinating avenue to explore, but it’s also rooted in a rather clumsy retcon. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original “Spider-Man” story in Amazing Fantasy #15 (from which Slott quotes word for word) gives the impression that the spider died a “split second” after biting Peter; now readers are being asked to believe that after biting Peter, this same spider dropped from Peter’s hand, crawled along some cables, then crawled across the exhibit room floor, sought out one more random person, bit them on the ankle, and then died all within that same “split second.” There’s a difference between “suspension of disbelief” and outright incredulity. Moreover, given how the upcoming “Spider-Verse” story is already going to feature almost every single incarnation of Spider-Man and Woman from all over the Marvel Multi-verse, it feels rather superfluous for Slott to introduce yet another Spider-powered character into the mix.
The second major development is, of course, the cliffhanger where Anna Maria has deduced Peter’s secret identity as Spider-Man, which is not only used as the punchline for the already excessive naked Spidey gag, but throws in a sex joke on top of it, which, given the circumstances behind Otto and Anna Maria’s relationship, is in extremely poor taste. Not to mention cheapens what otherwise should be a major turning point for Peter himself. To be honest, I feel rather apprehensive about where Slott could take this next issue. Hopefully, he’ll have Peter tell Anna Maria the truth about Doc Ock no matter how unbelievable it may sound, as he now has no legitimate reason not to tell her the truth. But given Anna Maria saying in Superior Spider-Man #31 that she didn’t know how she could go on living without Peter, and learning that “Peter” was also planning on proposing marriage to her in this issue, the worst possible outcome would be for Anna Maria to presumptively say “yes” to that proposal, and thus Peter finds himself engaged to a woman he barely knows and is afraid to tell her the truth because it could break her heart. Such a scenario I’m hoping Slott has good enough sense not to do.
As for Humberto Ramos’ art, this story highlights both his strengths and weaknesses. During fight sequences between Spidey and the White Rabbit’s Menagerie, Ramos’ hyper-kinetic and over-stylized pencils, with Victora Olazaba’s inks and Edgar Delgado’s colors, are suitable in conveying the fast-paced action and movement those scenes need. Yet during the more expository and dialogue-heavy moments, the characters are glaringly disproportionate, with their exaggerated and inconsistent anatomy that make them seem like over or under inflated balloons than flesh and blood people.
Slott and Gage’s first back-up story featuring Electro is slightly better, as it adequately sets-up the conflict for the next issue. Only I just didn’t buy Electro’s motive to prove himself via his attempt at breaking out all the prisoners, especially because he got insulted by the Hobgoblin’s former crew of D-list knock-offs. After all, what’s to stop Electro from frying their collective asses once they leave the Bar With No Name? And given what SpOck did to him and the other members of the Sinister Six in Superior Spider-Man Team Up, Electro already has more than enough reason to go after Spidey anyway so he doesn’t need an additional motive by his accidentally blowing up the prison. Or maybe it actually wasn’t his fault because the next story seems to suggest that someone else was responsible for Electro losing control of his powers.
Yes, I’m talking about the Black Cat back-up story, which might as well be titled “Character Assassination” because that’s exactly what this was. I admit, I’m not the biggest Black Cat fan as I consider her a glorified Catwoman pastiche, but I do appreciate the fact that, among Spidey fans, she has a considerable fanbase. And I can’t imagine them being the least bit happy with what Slott and Gage have done with her here. Because while it’s understandable she would want revenge given what SpOck did, this story still turns what was once a sassy anti-hero into a straight-up murderer. And don’t give me that, “it was Electro’s lightning bolts that killed those inmates,” because when Felicia says, “My real power is that I’m lucky. And if I don’t like you, you’re unlucky,” it suggests she now has full control over her bad luck powers. Which also means she was deliberately redirecting the lightning not only to the woman in the cell next to her, but to all the other inmates as she made her escape. Even if Spidey can explain to Felicia what really happened, Slott and Gage have made her cross a line she can never go back from, and it’s only because of Giuseppe Camuncoli’s pencils that prevents this story being a complete failure.
Caramanga’s back-up is a cute, lighthearted, but also padded fluff. Peter David’s Spider-Man 2099 story, however, is better, giving us a taste of the kind of “fish out of water” tales that will beguile Miquel O’Hara in his new series. Unfortunately, if Will Slinely is any sign of what the art for the series will be like going forward, it’s going to be an acquired taste at best. Chris Yost and David Baldeon’s “Kaine” is not only good, it’s the best story out of the entire issue. Granted, it’s being used to promote the otherwise lackluster New Warriors, but it also serves as a much more satisfying coda to Yost’s Scarlet Spider series than Scarlet Spider #25 ever did. The only real downside is that I wish Peter talked to more of Kaine’s Houston supporting cast besides Dr. Donald Meland.
Finally, there’s Slott and Ramon Perez’s prologue for “Learning to Crawl,” and unlike the prologue for his main story, Slott does a far better job here expanding upon Spidey’s original origin story, and already, I find Clayton Cole, aka the soon-to-be Clash, to be a credible character with clear and understandable motives. Slott does a very effective job at showing how Peter and Clayton were all but cut from the very same cloth; not only were they exceptional students raised in a loving home environment, they also try unsuccessfully to make friends and had dreams of personal glory. Moreover, Perez art is almost near-perfect in replicating Steve Ditko’s style and fusing both elements from the past and the present. Yet when Clayton sees the Burglar break into the back of the theater, it not only creates a gaping plot hole, it undermines the very parallel Slott tries to set up that Clayton is guilty of being just as self-centered as Peter was. After all, if Clayton was so worried about losing his place in line to go find a cop, why not just use the smartphone that we see him always carry around with him to call 911? Even so, this is a good tease for the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man miniseries starting next week, which this humble reviewer will also be critiquing.
But it’s the main story showing Peter’s on the first day of his new lease on life that readers have wanted and wanting to see. But as happy as I am seeing The Amazing Spider-Man comic and Peter Parker back to his old, wisecracking self again, it’s such a disappointing return that no amount of extra content can alleviate. Thus, taking all the stories and the overall comic into consideration (and not counting the bonus reprint of Inhuman #1 that comes with it), the all-new, but ultimately unsatisfying Amazing Spider-Man #1 gets a very low:
- I know you were determined to make that “P-break” joke, Pete, but it probably would’ve gone over better if you actually looked that what your company logo now said. Because both the letters “I” and “N” were missing from “Industries,” you should have said, “It’s business as usual here at ‘Arker Dustries.” If you’re going to make a bad pun, at least do it right, why don’tcha?
- Also, it hasn’t been “well known for years” that you’ve designed Spider-Man tech, Pete. In terms of Marvel’s sliding timescale, that’s only been common knowledge for less than a year at best.
- And Pete, you can’t exactly access Otto’s memories even if you wanted to anyway. You saw Otto erase himself from your brain, remember?
- Anna Maria, I know you’re hopelessly and desperately in love with Peter (or at least the guy you think is Peter) but you probably should have followed your first instincts and changed clothes—especially since you’ve wearing them for more than 24 hours. Believe me, guys don’t like it when their lady smells funky just as women don’t like it when their men do.
- Nice to see that Spider-Woman is the only Avenger who has any common sense as she realizes what happened to Spidey in this issue could only have happened to the real one. Captain America, however, remains as obtuse as ever. And by the way, Cap, what ever happened to your whole “we have to arrest Spider-Man for aiding Cardiac’s unsanctioned free clinic”? I guess the other Avengers realized your order was so stupid they chose to ignore it.
- *Sigh* MJ, I know you were not being mean-spirited in your “idiot” remark over your ex’s amusing predicament, but honestly, based on how Slott has characterized you since Amazing Spider-Man #698, you’re not exactly in a position to be calling him that, affectionately or otherwise. Unless, of course, you were calling yourself an “idiot” in checking up on Peter after your whole “I love you, but can’t be a part of your life anymore speech” in Superior Spider-Man #31.
- Given the content of the main story for this issue, I could make some snarky comments about Spidey’s “This is exactly as bad as it looks” comment, or that bystander’s “I don’t think anyone should be watching this” line, but that would be far too easy. But a reference to Miley Cyrus? That already feels dated.
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but Felicia Hardy already had a criminal record and thus her identity as the Black Cat is also public knowledge. So it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to her supposed friends in high society that she’s a known costumed thief. Moreover, I thought it was Felicia who insisted on not knowing Spidey’s identity as part of their whole “friends with benefits” arrangement they used to have? Not that Spidey deciding to go along with it makes him look any better, anyway.
- Yeah, that whole business of restoring Spidey’s secret identity via “One More Day” and “One Moment In Time” has completely gone out the window given how Caramanga’s back-up show us all the people who do know it now. And how wrong is it that the Jackal knows Peter is Spider-Man but the Green Goblin and Venom do not?
- Okay, so based on the prologue from the opening story, we now know that Peter was bitten by the radioactive spider “13 years ago,” which also means it takes place in the year 2001. Which means the prologue for “Learning to Crawl” also takes place within that same year. However, there must be an anomaly within Marvel’s sliding timescale, because Apple didn’t release their first generation iPhone until 2007, and YouTube wasn’t founded until 2005. I guess Age of Ultron really screwed up the space-time continuum in more ways than one.