Amazing Spider-Man #1 is Funny and Entertaining, But Almost Overwhelmed by Subplots

Amazing Spider-Man #1ASM1
Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Joe Caramagna, Peter David, Christopher Yost
Pencilled by Humberto Ramos, Javier Rodriguez, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Chris Elioupolos, Will Sliney, David Baldeon, Ramon Perez
Inked by Victor Olazaba, Alvaro Lopez, John Dell, Cam Smith, Jordi Tarragona
Colors by Edgar Delgado, Javier Rodriguez, Antonio Fabela, Jim Charalampidis, Ian Herring, Rachelle Rosenberg
Published by Marvel Comics

At an overstuffed 64 pages, Marvel spares no expense to welcome back Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #1. There is a lead story with Spider-Man naked half the time, and six backup stories that re-introduce villains, like Electro and Black Cat, catch up with allies like Kaine, or tell a story set in Peter’s past. This is a lot of material to tackle in one review, but overall, Amazing Spider-Man #1 is a strong reintroduction to Peter Parker as Spider-Man. There is a big emphasis on humor as basically every word that comes out of Spider-Man’s mouth is a quip, and also a hilarious argument between supervillains over what “motif” they’ll use. But beneath the jokes and Humberto Ramos’ big panels of Spider-Man swinging in the bright New York skyline, there is still debris from Superior Spider-Man to clean up. This would be an interesting story to tell in the first arc of Amazing Spider-Man, but Dan Slott also decides to re-introduce Black Cat and Electro, who will appear in subsequent issues. There are also stories featuring Kaine and Spider-Man 2099, but they both have their own adventures in New Warriors and the upcoming Spider-Man 2099 so this doesn’t add to the growing pile of plot lines. The last story is the most controversial and features great Steve Ditko influenced art from Ramon Perez and ensures the story either shocks or pleases readers, like most of Slott’s work on Spider-Man.

ASM0114-38a7eEven though there are  plot threads busting out of the seams of Amazing Spider-Man #1‘s lead story, Dan Slott revels in writing the real Peter Parker again. His scripts sparkles with humor, wit, and a generally optimistic attitude. Spidey is pretty peppy for a man, who has just found out that he is a PhD, the CEO of his own company, and is about to be engaged to a woman he barely knows. This could be a good sign, or a sign of Peter’s immaturity compared to Otto Octavius’ tenure as Spider-Man. Slott takes the middle ground between these two extremes by showing Spider-Man back in action, but also a little rusty when it comes to the superheroics and handling the status quo of Spider-Man changed by Superior Spider-Man. Humberto Ramos’ art matches the light tone of Slott’s script, and he finds creative ways for Spidey to sling and swing his webs.Ramos can illustrate a variety scenes with different tones from re-telling Spider-Man’s origin in the opening pages to a New York laid waste by the Green Goblin as well as Anna Maria Marconi slowly going through Peter’s apartment. Slott and Ramos have the voice and tone down for Amazing Spider-Man; they just have to clean up the dangling threads of Superior Spider-Man first before breaking new ground for the character.

New ground is broken for Amazing Spider-Man in the first two backup stories about Electro and Black Cat written by Slott and Christos Gage with art from Superior Spider-Man veterans Javier Rodriguez and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The Electro story starts off as various patrons of a supervillain bar swap yarns about Electro’s successes and follies over the years. Artist/colorist Javier Rodriguez gives these D-list supervillains suitably garish costumes and also does a decent job showing Electro’s transformation from his classic costume to his washed out energy form. (That happens to look just like Jamie Foxx in Amazing Spider-Man 2) It will be interesting to see what Slott does with Electro in the future, but in this story, his motivation is pretty “one-note”: he’s pissed off at Spider-Man. Though not as visually appealing, Black Cat has much more potential as a foe. Spider-Ock swore her off as a “common criminal”, jailed her, and the government took her ill-gotten gain. She has every right to want to take out Spider-Man, and Slott, Gage, and Camuncoli give her plenty of time to stew in prison and take the abuse of the people around her to build up this rage. Camuncoli shifts her facial expressions subtly throughout the story as she goes from apathetic to angry and eventually smirking in her catsuit. I wonder how these characters will fit into regular length Amazing Spider-Man stories going forward though because there is still a lot of emotional (relationships) and physical (his company’s ruined building) baggage  left over from Superior Spider-Man.

SpiderManAlexRossCMYKThe other backups are a mixed bag. Marvel letterers Joe Caramagna and Chris Elioupolos team up to draw a funny story demonstrating Spider-Man power levels and explaining his web-shooters as well as his motivation for fighting crime. As shown by his special Hawkeye #17, Elioupolos is one of Marvel’s more unique  (and underrated) artists, and his figures are cute and fun without straying into Skottie Young Baby variant territory. He also uses the Hulk as a guest star to really pack in the jokes. Peter David and Will Sliney’s Spider-Man 2099 is an extended action scene, but it shows how much of a misfit Miguel O’Hara is in the present without resorting to “fish out of water” cliches. Chris Yost and David Baldeon’s Kaine story is the weakest of the bunch and filled with expositions and wall of texts. The colorist also doesn’t make a clear distinction between present and flashback scenes. The last story is by Dan Slott and Eisner-winning artist Ramon Perez and is set in Peter’s past. However, it introduces a new character and a new spin on Spider-Man’s early days. Perez’s art is also the best in the comic as he combines old storytelling devices like nine panel grids and Steve Ditko’s designs for Spider-Man’s costume with modern technology to end the comic on a nostalgic and slightly controversial note.

In conclusion, Amazing Spider-Man #1 focuses on fun and Peter Parker’s character while simultaneously re-introducing new villains and having a plethora of backup stories which range from entertaining and innovative to downright boring. Dan Slott continues to have a strong handle of Peter Parker’s voice as Spider-Man even though he is overwhelmed by loads and loads of supporting characters. Hopefully, over the next few months, these threads will be unraveled, and Amazing Spider-Man can stand on its own once again as Marvel’s flagship comic and an entertaining and emotionally resonant superhero book, in general.

 

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