AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Joe Caramanga, Peter David & Chris Yost
Art by Humberto Ramos, Javier Rodriguez, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Chris Eliopoulos, Will Sliney, David Baldeon & Ramon Perez
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 30th, 2014
Peter Parker is back, as Amazing Spider-Man returns with an extra sized first issue extravaganza. The combination of Peter Parker, the movie opening in here in the United States this weekend, and Free Comic Book Day have made this relaunch the biggest single issue of the year. Do Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and friends live up to the hype? Not necessarily, but readers are left with a solid issue that sets up the immediate future of the Spider-Man family of titles.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 features a whopping seven stories that set the tone for not only the future of the flagship title, but books such as New Warriors and Spider-Man 2099. The big draw here is the main story featuring Peter Parker proper as he tries to return to a life that was dramatically altered by Otto Octavius over the past year and a half. If you take away the trappings of the big relaunch the leading story is a fun, solid story. Despite the opening pages hinting at a major event in Spider-Man history, it is nothing groundbreaking. This story feels like comfort food, and fans of Peter Parker are going to rejoice.
The lead story brings back the humor that has been missing from the Spider-Man titles for awhile. Not to say that Otto was never good for a laugh, but the brand of humor is different, and Slott pours it on page after page. The wise cracking “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” makes a triumphant return, as the jokes come one after another, and are enough to bring a smile to any reader’s face. With that said, the jokes are a bit jarring after dealing with Otto under the mask for as long as we have. It feels as if Slott is trying just a bit too hard to remind people what separates Peter from Otto. The “Parker Luck” is back in full force, as one of the highlights of the entire issue is Peter finding himself in a compromising position that only he would find himself in.
One of my biggest fears heading into this relaunch was that the new status quo developed during the Superior Era would be wiped away. That is not the case however, as Peter Parker is having to pick up the pieces, both good and bad in order to figure out how to move ahead. How he deals with Parker Industries, Anna Maria, finding out he’s a doctor, and Aunt May’s leg are all touched upon and the final page sets up an interesting conversation for next month. This carries on into the other stories as well. Slott and Gage tell two backup stories, one that sets up Electro as the villain to welcome Peter back, and the other tells the story of what a scorned Black Cat has been up to since Spider-Man unceremoniously punched her in the face a few months back. These two backups are more of an extension of the leading story, and are setting up for the immediate future of the title.
Christos Gage has proven to be a perfect compliment to Dan Slott. Whenever he comes out and plays the quality of the scripts never drop. This is a wonderful weapon for Marvel to have in their back pocket, and one can hope that the Slott/Gage partnership will continue to allow the books to be cranked out as often as they have been. The Electro story catches up readers on what Max has been up to, and directly connects to events mentioned in the first story. This is a good primer for readers coming in fresh off of the movie, and it is clear that using Electro to open up the book wasn’t a coincidence. The Black Cat story is not completely new reader friendly, but it serves to give new readers insight into Felicia’s motivations, and new outlook on Spider-Man for when she enters the fray again.
The remaining four stories separate themselves from the main story in an attempt to bring readers up to speed on what’s going on in the rest of the Spider-Man books, or to just remind us that Spidey can do whatever a spider can. The Joe Caramanga and Chris Eliopoulos backup is a cute and fun reminder of how Spider-Man’s powers work. In the end it serves as the most inconsequential of the stories presented in the issue, but it is a fun piece that fits in perfectly in an extra sized first issue relaunch.
The next story features the Spider-Man 2099 creative team of Peter David and Will Sliney telling a story about Miguel O’Hara, and setting the table for the launch of the new ongoing series. It’s only a five page story, so it serves as an introduction to Miguel for new readers while giving old fans a brief glimpse at what we have to look forward to come July.
Next, we check in on Kaine and his exploits down in Houston. Peter heads down there to find his clone, and hears all about him from the natives. Chris Yost, writer of both Scarlet Spider and New Warriors gives us a quick rundown of what Kaine is about, and what he has been up to before pointing readers towards New Warriors to pick up on the action.
The final story is possibly the most interesting, as it is a prologue to the Learning To Crawl story that will be featured in Amazing Spider-Man 1.1-1.5. Slott shows that he is updating the origin story of Spider-Man by bringing it into the world of cell phones and modern technology, but looking to stay true to the core of the original story. It looks to be a welcomed story, as it appears to be the first time a story like this has been attempted outside of Ultimate Spider-Man, and it will go a long way to helping streamline, and modernize the Spider-Man timeline.
The art is in this issue is great, as can be expected with a lineup like the one put together here. What more can be said about Humberto Ramos? He kicks off the issue in the lead story, and once again proves that he may just be the most iconic Spider-Man artist of the past twenty years. It can be argued that his name belongs up there with Ditko, Romita, and McFarlene as the most influential of Spider-Man artists.
The Black Cat backup features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli who has quickly become a go to Spidey artist. The inks are a little heavy in the backup, and the story isn’t really given the room to stretch its legs in the art department, but it still looks good. The Electo story finds Javier Rodriguez handling the art duties, and it may feature the best page in the entire book as Electro unleashes the full extent of his power.
Chris Eliopoulos is Joe Caramanga’s artist for the third story. The cartoony, all ages style of Eliopoulous fits the tone of Caramanga’s script perfectly. I’d love to see little backups by this creative team continue at points over the course of the series, as they have potential to be quite fun for readers of all ages.
The brief glimpse of Spider-Man 2099 shows that Will Sliney will thrive with the adventures of Miguel O’Hara, as he has shown that he can capture the fluidity and grace that comes with handling the art duties on a Spider-Man title. David Baldeon, who handled art duties for the last arc of Scarlet Spider was the obvious choice for the Kaine story, and it just fits.
The Spider-Man line of comics have developed a distinct feel in the artists they bring in. While each artist has their own distinct style, every artist in this issue feels like they belong on a Spider-Man title, and that is a testament to both the artists and editor Nick Lowe. The artist that ventures farthest out from this mold is Ramon Perez, and for good reason. He is charged with telling the story of Spider-Man’s early days. He brings a timeless style to the story that fits right in with what the story aims to do. His art is always something special, and even if you aren’t necessarily interested in a story about the early days of Spidey, Ramon Perez remains a strong selling point.
Overall, Amazing Spider-Man #1 is a big issue, featuring a lot of story that sets up the new status quo for the Spider-Man family of books. Slott doesn’t run away from what has happened recently, but he makes it as new (or lapsed) reader friendly as possible. The backup stories are even more so, as they not only open the door to the rest of the line for readers, but get readers excited for what’s to come. For as much hype as there as been the issue isn’t groundbreaking, but the return of Peter, solid storytelling throughout, and a roadmap to the immediate future of Peter & friends make this a worthwhile purchase for anybody interested in the web slinger. On top of it all the first issue of Inhuman is included, and the addition just adds to what is already a big comic book.
The Verdict: 8.5/10