The big news for Spider-Man fans back in April this year was that Peter Parker was back from the dead, and back in the body that Doctor Octopus had been inhabiting for the past year and a bit. For me, someone who hasn’t read much of Spider-Man in the past, the re-launch of The Amazing Spider-Man seemed like a great jumping on point. Now, six issues down the line (plus 1.1-5, but I won’t go into them now), I would guess that these first six issues will probably be pulled together in trade paperback form as The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1, so it seems like a good point to write a little review (don’t worry, I won’t give spoilers).
A few storylines start to play out in the jumbo-sized issue one. Most of them have roots back in Superior Spider-Man but my knowledge of that title was sketchy at best and it didn’t hamper my understanding. The villains brought in are an unstable Electro (whom Doc Ock had experimented on as Spider-Man) and the morally ambiguous Black Cat, who has her own personal vendetta against Spider-Man/Doc Ock. This is all against the backdrop of Peter Parker resuming his life to find that he now has his own company, Parker Industries, and a doctorate, both courtesy of Doc Ock, so not everything’s bad. Also glimpsed briefly are Mary Jane, who doesn’t feature much in these six issues, and a mysterious woman who was apparently bitten by the same spider as Peter back in his origins as Spider-Man.
Another point is that issues four and five apparently tie in with the big summer crossover, Original Sin, but I hadn’t read any of the other Original Sin books and got on with these just fine…in all honesty I didn’t see how issue five tied in with it in any way but the banner over the cover. So that’s not really an issue if you want to read the comics but don’t fancy splashing out on Original Sin as well (though I probably will buy it at some point when it’s released in paperback form).
So what about the contet, both the narrative and the visuals? Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are both experienced in making Spider-Man books, having both been involved through Superior and before that, so you immediately get a book that feels slick, professional, and very high quality. Issue one opens with a mini-prologue/flashback that ties in with later issues and provides an immediate hook, before launching into the first busy, character-filled double page that introduces both Spider-Man and some minor villains dealt with in the first issue. Straightaway the reader gets entertaining dialogue (Spider-Man’s trademark), colourful costumes, mildly tongue-in-cheek sound effects (like ‘PEW’, ‘PYOW’ and ‘THWOP’) and dynamic panels.
This combination of action and wit sets the trend for the next five issues, continuing through a major throw down with Electro in issue two and other big bust ups with Electro and the Black Cat in the next four issues after that. It’s fast-paced, visually pleasing stuff that kept me hooked.
So are there any bad points? Not too many. Issue four, with the main Original Sin tie-in felt a bit contrived, and the chain of events seems a bit too fortuitous, even for a comic book.
Aside from that, I really can’t think of too much to criticise. I really enjoyed these six books and they’ve done their job of making me a Spider-Man fan. Some exciting threads have been put in place to be continued in future issues, most notably the brief appearance of old Spider-Man enemy Morlun and possibly some of the crime-boss types with Hobgoblin and Mr Negative featuring in a scene in issue five.
I highly recommend these issues as a jumping on point for fans new to Spider-Man and to the Marvel Universe in general, assuming they’re going to be released at some point in the near future in graphic novel format. They’re explosive, stylish, clever, and best of all, they’re fun.
UPDATE: Amazing Spider-Man volume 1: ‘The Parker Luck’ will be released on the 15th October and will contain issues 1-5.