Welcome to the new, bold and progressive era of Peter Parker in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #1

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Amazing Spider-Man #1
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colors by Marte Gracia
Published by Marvel Comics on October 7, 2015

If anything can be said for Dan Slott’s run on Spider-Man, it’s that he knows how to think in terms of the long run. But that doesn’t mean new readers are screwed.

Long-time readers of Slott’s Spider-Man epic are constantly rewarded because as each issue releases, some new plot point referencing back to seeds planted months or even years ago. The story of Peter Parker and all of the funny, dramatic, sexy, weird, and action-packed happenings around him is sprawling, fascinating, and enthralling; Slott knows how to add even more plot points hitting all of those descriptors to this already incredibly rich narrative, and if you have been along for the ride the whole way, you’re going to experience a story much deeper and rewarding than any individual story arc.

Despite this, anyone who jumps in fresh for one of Slott’s huge status quo switch-ups will be welcomed with open arms. What for long-time readers will be an encapsulation of countless months of build-up will be a fresh beginning point for any wide-eyed reader who wants to love New York City’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

In the case of the latest Amazing Spider-Man relaunch, though, Peter is no longer NYC’s guardian, but one of the world’s, if Parker has his way. Whether you’re here for the growth of Parker into the world’s bleeding heart CEO from NYC’s angsty bleeding heart teenager, or if you’re looking for an introduction, get ready for Slott’s exciting new progressive era of Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man #1.

The gay marriage of one of the major characters created by Slott in his long Spider-Man run in this issue does not feel incidental. This scene, done respectfully and beautifully without any immature attempts at humor or even much acknowledgement in the story of the sexualities of the grooms, fits in perfectly with the progressive politics intrinsic to Parker’s new status quo. Parker Industries’ CEO takes less pay than his black bodyguard, addresses the globe in suits purchased at JCPenny’s, pays fair wages in China, and promises green interactions with the environment.

IMG_0174In response to such announcements, Parker receives implied criticism from reporters for implementing a financially poor business model, and is urged by one of his employees to think more like a powerful businessman. There is realism at play, a liberal ideologue met with the harsh reality of a national and international economy harnessed by capitalism.

The result of this dynamic is a downright awesome character. For long-time readers, however, the layers of this character are only richer. When this man is left with a company forged by the ego-maniac Doctor Octopus whose soul took over Parker’s body during the Superior era of Slott’s run, he uses the opportunity to build something special: an international effort to help the world. In exploring Parker’s motivations, Slott calls back to Stan Lee’s original work, and the lesson about the great responsibility in wielding great power.

Slott’s own character work is there too, not just in optimistically looking past the Doc Ock dilemma, but also in how he goes about enforcing his moral code. Gone are the days of his whimsical and idealistic “when I’m around, no one dies” goal, replaced by the pragmatic caveat of saving everyone he realistically can. Much of this switch comes out of the much tougher reality of protecting the world, but it’s clear the last few years of Parker’s misadventures have also played into his broken down idealism.

This first issue strings together a few different scenes and sequences, most of them full of action and fun, just as Spider-Man should be. This issue marks the return of the Spider-Mobile, seemingly lost in geek obscurity until now. (Except for the shelves of the toy section at your local Target or Walmart.) Slott expertly delivers over-the-top action with the car while simultaneously playing up the humor of Parker, someone who rarely touches a steering wheel, doing such a thing. Spidey runs the car upside-down, transforms the bottom into an eight-legged behemoth, and shoots himself out of it while Mockingbird, a female superhero helping him in his new global initiative, steers the car.

The art from Giuseppe Camuncoli is fantastic, helped tremendously by Marte Gracia. Camuncoli’s art always shined with Antonio Fabela’s fun, vibrant colors as opposed to the more muted work of Edgar Delgado. Thankfully, Gracia’s work is much more in line with what Fabela has delivered in the past. The exciting car-chase is aided tremendously by the colors of the lit-up night, but the boisterous and intense sense of motion emanating from Camuncoli’s pencils goes a long way too.

IMG_0171Whenever the mood of the book takes things down a couple notches, the art still works tremendously. Camuncoli’s work has suffered in the past due to some odd facial expression, but this comic houses his refined effort. Nuanced detail shows the emotion of his subjects, and even though there is still something a little off about the exaggerated shapes of the eyes, that just serves to add a cool cartoon flair.

At the end of this massive, 60 page comic is a series of back-ups from a diverse roster of creators, each following a different character in the Spider-Man universe. Each of them, convenient for Marvel, has their own series available to purchase at fine comic book retailers, making them easy to write off as advertisements there to buff of the page count to justify the $6 entry fee. While they do their job of advertising other books, it’s a decision I’m willing to buy. They are all original and enjoyable little stories that do a great job of showing off the characterization of Spider-Woman, Spider-Man 2099, Silk and the rest.

More importantly, the glimpse at what is going on with all of these characters plays into the larger goal of this new status quo, that being creating a universe of Spider-Man within the much larger Marvel universe. It’s something Marvel has already been doing throughout Slott’s run but something much more aggressive now. DC has already has success doing this with Batman in their universe; in fact, this new status quo has been fairly been compared to Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc., a status quo change that brought together the various Batman characters more so than ever.

Anyone fearing an inferior clone of Morrison’s work shouldn’t be worried, though. What Slott lays the groundwork for in this first issue is unique and special. Not only is it a natural culmination of his work on the character thus far, it is a respectful and celebratory evolution of the legendary character of Peter Parker.

Rating: 9/10

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