Could Peter Parker’s Life Get Any Worse In Amazing Spider-Man #1?

by James Ferguson

Peter Parker’s life is back to chaos. Within a single day, he loses his graduate degree and his job, basically shunned from the scientific community. His superhero alter ego is fairing a little better, although he lacks the respect of his peers. Even his Aunt May is disappointed in him. There is one constant in his life that can see him through all this and it took all this tragedy and heartbreak for him to realize it.

I’ll put this right up front. Spider-Man is my all time favorite comic book character. It’s been that way for decades. After reading this new Amazing Spider-Man #1, I’m wondering if I’m outgrowing the character. It’s not that this is a bad issue. It’s quite the opposite. Writer Nick Spencer has crafted an interesting story that hearkens back to the earlier, classic version of the wall-crawler with his signature Parker luck wreaking havoc in his life. I just wonder if, by the time Peter has reached this age (whatever that may be), he’d have his stuff together a little more. His irresponsibility bothers me as an adult.

Much of this stems from the fact that almost no one knows his secret identity. I had this problem with earlier issues of the current Flash series because it causes all these unnecessary and often awkward conversations between the main character and their loved ones as they have to make excuses for why they can’t spend time with them at a moment’s notice. Case in point: Peter can’t explain why he’s lost his degree because it would reveal his superhero life. Captain America doesn’t have these kind of problems.

While I was a little frustrated with the one-two punch of Parker luck early on this issue, I was more than pulled in by the end. Spencer’s story basically resets the character’s world, creating an even playing field to explore a number of options. The comic bounces around a bit, as Peter explains how he got into these current situations. This involves fighting a horde of alien bugs in the middle of the city alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, arguing with his roommates, dealing with the mayor, and more. It keeps everything moving at a brisk pace.

All of this is amplified by the artwork. Ryan Ottley was born to draw Spider-Man. He captures the quirky world webhead lives in with its signature humor. Much of this comes through in the facial expressions of characters, especially when they look at Spider-Man with annoyance and a bit of confusion, as if they’re wondering how someone so smart could be so stupid.

Ottley balances the issue with close-up personal shots with bombastic battles. This makes simple conversations between two or more characters as intriguing as the best dramas out there. Then you flip the page to see a huge layout of half the heroes in the Marvel Universe crushing big bugs. I can’t remember the last time I saw Gambit fighting alongside The Thing, but boy is it awesome.

The artwork pops off the page with Cliff Rathburn’s inks, creating well-defined lines and showcasing all of the fine details included within. Completing the package are Laura Martin’s colors, making a vibrant palette which makes the wall-crawler’s world. This includes everything from the snot green of the alien bugs, to the soft tones of May’s apartment, to the brilliant red and blue of Spider-Man’s costume.

One aspect of the book I absolutely love is how Spider-Man’s dialogue contrasts with his internal narration. On the outside, he’s cracking jokes left and right, while on the inside he’s worried about everything and juggling all the varied aspects of his life. Letterer Joe Caramagna showcases this juxtaposition with standard word balloons for the dialogue and red-outlined caption boxes for the internal narration. I like how the two appear on the page in relation to each other.

As an added bonus, there are two back-up stories included in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 serving as epilogues of a sort. The second one primarily leads us into the next issue, however the first one looks to set up the villains working in the shadows to take down the webhead. The art style here is different and I didn’t see a separate credit for the story. It looks like Humberto Ramos‘ work, not Ryan Ottley’s.

In any case, it features a villain pulling the strings of the aforementioned alien bugs. He is definitely capable of some crazy stuff and proves himself to be a formidable foe very quickly, however, he’s never named. As a lapsed reader, I don’t know if this is someone that’s been introduced before or a brand new character. In any case, I’ll be binge-reading recent Spider-Man stories on Marvel Unlimited for a little while to prepare for the next issue.

This new chapter of Peter Parker’s life is so very accessible to new readers. Spencer weaves in recent history in an organic way that doesn’t feel like a history lesson. This is the first step in a new direction for the wall-crawler that shakes up his world considerably. While I question some of Peter’s decisions as an adult, I can respect how he brings everything together by the end of the issue. Spider-Man is still my favorite character.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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