Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1# Review
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Lettter: Travis Lanham
Editor: Nick Lowe
Art: Adam Kubert
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Art: Goran Parlov
Color: Nathan Fairbairn
“Because you demanded it.” We joke about that phrase but let us be honest many of us have wanted a return of the spin-off titles featuring Peter Parker. Well Marvel has called our bluff and delivered us PPTSSM. We got a taste of the book with the FCBD story but now its time to see a full issue.
Peter is recounting his origins with the Human Torch. The two agree to get together for a movie before going their separate ways. Spidey soon spots an armed robbery. The victim of the crime is the books new love interest comedian Rebecca London. When Peter’s web shooters fail him the day was saved by Scott Lang aka Ant-man. Ant-Man takes Spider-Man to tech genius, and brother to the Tinkerer, Mason. Spider-Man took with him the robbers mobile as it was a stark phone apparently incapable of being hacked yet somehow it was. Mason’s assistant, the returning Horizon labs alumni, Uatu Jackson traces the call to Chicago. Peter tracks the hack to home of Riri Williams aka Iron Heart. While back at his apartment Johnny Storm is waiting for his planned movie night with Peter when he runs in to a woman claiming to be Peter’s sister ‘ Teresa Parker’.
At another time Spider-Man is attacked by Black Widow and put through his paces. While Peter is left confused by the situation, we learn the reason behind the attack: Black Widow is testing out Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense limits for SHIELD Agent Mintz.
While there is a little story here (as mentioned above) but let us lets look at character instead.
So depending on how you felt about Peter in the FCBD story is probably going to be how you feel about this Peter Parker. Chip definitely has an idea on how Peter should sound and that is very jokey. If you’re fine with that this book is for you. If not, then this isn’t the Spidey book you’re looking for . It is no secret my favourite character is Deadpool. I enjoy a character with humour and it is a huge part of why I love Spidey. I do wish, however, we got to see a little more than just Peter joking. Even the one action scene of the main story was brief and the fight scene went to Ant-Man with Peter coming across as a bit of a failure. While I understand the story reason for this, to get him to Mason by having tech troubles, it would have been nice to see more of the fight style we saw in the FCBD issue. Apart from the jokes we really don’t see much of Parker’s character. To be honest I even found some of Parker’s jokes to be a little out of character. There is one about ‘Robbers that kill Uncles’ that seemed out of step with Spider-Man for me. Not all the jokes are horriblethough. From the mentioning of that time he grew six arms to telling the Chicago kids that there was big money in birthday appearances. These all felt like great Peter lines. My favourite humour moment being Rebecca throwing her business card at Spidey, expecting it just to stick to his body and Peters awkward reaction afterwards. A very “Bob’s Burgers” level of awkwardness.
Now the back up story (also written by Zdarsky) is far more the Spider-man I was hoping to see out of this issue. It is clear to me that Chip can do this as he does bring out the classic Spider-man right here. I just wish more of this Spider-Man was in the main story.
Speaking of a classic style to Spider-Man, we do get mentions to Parker Industries but they are throw away at best. While this is a book in continuity you don’t need to know ‘that’ Spider-Man story to keep pace here and the story hopefully should age better than other books tied to the concept.
The first of three new main characters we are introduced to in this issue is Rebecca London. No beating around the bush, she is the first love interest of the book. She asks Spider-Man out after the rescue and he calls her later on. Now I normally might lean towards this being a classic misdirect, like maybe she is a villain, but they gave her an interesting career. She is a comedian. Doesn’t seem like the type of thing one gives to a character without plans to develop further. It is also becoming clear to me that someone at Marvel has a thing for blonde women with pink highlights .
Character No. 2 of the new batch. Mason looks like Josh Gad meets André the Giant. He’s the brother of Phineas Mason, aka The Tinkerer (soon to be seen in MCU’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.). This guy does seem to be the Good Guy version of the Tinkerer outfitting superheros with their tech. If this were any other series I would think, “oh, they are setting up their version of Q.” This felt odd to me here however as at the present Spider-Man has a tech company and even before that Peter has always been pretty self-reliant, but here we have Mason here fixing up Spider-Man’s web shooters. While this works fine to introduce us to Mason I hate that yet again we are taking away from Peter. The Web shooters are something unique to Spider-Man this is something he should know better than Stark or Mister Fantastic. Mason’s sidekick is Uatu Jackson from the Horizon Labs era of Slott’s run. I got no ill will towards Uatu here but with so many characters in this first issue already, I do think he could have been left for later issue introduction.
Ant-Man and his Amazing Friends
Scott Lang. At first I considered him an odd choice for a Spider-man guest spot. Even Spidey stats they don’t have much of a history. It soon dawned on me however that one of Spider-man’s most famous scenes ever is now Spider-Man v Ant-Man. I get why he is used here as this is potentially a book for new readers, hence the origin recap at the beginning. My only issue with him is that it is yet another jokey character in a book already loaded to the brim with one-liners. You have Human Torch in the beginning. It would have been more economical for him to introduce Peter to Mason in some way and then departing only to have Ant-Man to appear. I was happy to see Johnny and Peter hanging, which is about as classic as a Spider-Man team up can get. We see Sam Wilson for a fleeting moment at Mason’s lair, really making me question if Nick Spencer didn’t writer this book between Sam and Ant-Man. Near the end we get Iron Heart and Black widow. For a Spider-Man spin-off book, I was hoping to focus on Spider-Man, yet we are getting a lot of other superheroes.
So this is the last of the three new characters and obviously the biggest. This leaked comic news sites earlier in the week. I tried to avoid it, wanting to go into this issue fresh but a comment in a Facebook post spoiled it for me. So sadly it lost its effect on me but that is not the fault of the storytellers. Marvel has played around with extending Spider-Man’s sibling family before. This seems to draw from the Waid/Robinson Graphic novel “Family Business” where Peter meets a long-lost CIA agent sister named Teresa Parker. Now that graphic novel wipes a whole bunch of memories at the end and leaves the real parentage of Teresa in question. I can see this story going two ways: 1) it’s a bluff or 2) Chip is trying for a Winter Soldier / Damien Wayne type thing by giving us one of those things most people are going to want to hate the concept of but try to bring us around by the end. I’ll give credit to him though it is a hell of a cliffhanger to end an issue on and I’m sure it will get many along for issue #2.
Adam Kubert seems a little different here than the art I am used to from him. It seems a little less refined. Sometimes characters in less important panels look more like Where’s Wally extras than Kubert art of early 2000’s. His page layouts are still as great as always. I think what lets him down the most is the muddy color art. Now I’m not to sure if this is from the artist himself of the printing process but I so hope it is looked at and fixed in future issues.
On the flip side is Goran Parlov of Punisher and Fury MAX fame on the back up. I know him mostly from a fantastic Mark Millar series called Star Light. This guy is on point. He has an almost Risso style with a hint of Guy Davis. These are truly the beautiful pages of the book.
All in All
So I had some issues with this book. It is not a good first issue and it pains me to say it. I had high hopes coming off the FCBD story and I do feel this is a sophomore slump. I don’t think anyone here phoned it in but I do feel like maybe they actually tried a little to hard and gave us too much sugar but not enough meal. There is hope here however. The back up Spider-Fight is a damn good little story. This is what I’d like to see more of going forward. I don’t want to give up on this book just yet