Peter Parker is not Spider-Man. Spider-Man is not Peter Parker. The two sides have been split as a result of a botched lab experiment. On one side you have a responsible, non-super powered Peter, able to enjoy his civilian life for perhaps the first time. On the other side is a free-wheeling, boisterous Spider-Man who is having a blast stopping bad guys, even though he’s causing all kinds of damage. It’s like the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” was split down the middle.
This plays into the usual horrible Parker luck. Peter is finally able to relax a bit and not worry about any loud noise outside that could be a villain attacking, but he can’t shake the idea that he needs to help people. That has become one of the building blocks of his personality. Unfortunately, he’s not in a position to do that right now since he’s lost his super powers.
Meanwhile, the impulsive and reckless side of him is out there having a blast being a hero. Peter tries to reason with Spider-Man to rein this in a bit, but to no avail. It’s like speaking to a hyperactive child. Spidey is distracted by bright lights and fun. He’s not going to sit still long enough to learn about responsibility.
Artist Ryan Ottley does a tremendous job with the character work in Amazing Spider-Man #4. Peter has a constant look of worry on his face, like he’s trying to remember if he left the gas on. He’s so very frustrated by his other half’s antics. At times, it’s like Peter has reverted to the wimpy kid he once was, back before a radioactive spider bit him. Conversely, although we can’t see his human face, Spider-Man’s actions and mannerisms are spot on. You can practically see the smirk under the mask. There’s such a carefree attitude on display. If he was in street clothes, he’d probably be sporting a Hawaiian shirt.
This positive outlook on life is shown best in Spider-Man’s takeover of the Tri-Sentinel that was terrorizing the city in the previous issue. He’s rewired the machine and is joyriding it around Manhattan. He’s also painted a Spider-Man mask on the front face. It’s garish and over-the-top, so it’s perfect for this new mentality.
Laura Martin’s colors are absolutely gorgeous. Every page of Spider-Man’s adventures looks so full of life and energy, even when he’s rampaging into a crime scene on the back of a three-headed, six-armed robot.
Amazing Spider-Man #4 is book-ended an angry Mendel Stromm, a cyborg responsible for the Tri-Sentinel attack. His scenes are darker and surrounded by shadows. This creates a nice contrast in terms of personality and character.
Stromm is visited by a mysterious voice in his final scene. We don’t see who is pulling the strings here, but it’s clear from Joe Caramagna’s letters that this is a deadly and villainous being. The word balloons are rough and jagged, like the dialogue is coming through with a gruff voice. It fits well with the darker imagery of Stromm’s hideout.
Amazing Spider-Man may be taking a page of out Multiple Man’s book, but it’s working well. Writer Nick Spencer’s story is taking a look at what makes Peter Parker and Spider-Man tick. There are a number of attributes that make him a hero, and not just because he’s got super powers. There’s more to it than that and when you strip some of that away, you end up with something far too reckless. Hopefully Peter can pull himself back together soon as there are some powerful forces preparing to move against him.