Amazing Spider-Man #1
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Otto Octavius is gone, and the Amazing Spider-Man is back not with a bang, but with a... chortle. Despite the massive amount of orders on this newly relaunched title, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos don't reinvent the wheel with Amazing Spider-Man #1, instead providing the softest of soft relaunches for this non-new, non-different Wallcrawler. While some might argue that it's not enough, others craving the comfort food that is the friendly neighborhood Peter Parker will feel right at home.
The first thing that you'll notice in Amazing Spider-Man #1 is, much like the Andrew Garfield films versus the Tobey Maguire films, the infusion of humor. That goes a fairly long way in breaking some of the self-serious stagnation that was plaguing the end of Superior Spider-Man - Slott gives the Webhead a reveal that is, well, pretty revealing, and is in the comedic thread that differentiates our hero from all the other grim, all-business caped crusaders out there. Even little quips like "Motif, Mo' problems" gives a welcome warmness that this title has long been lacking.
But that said, the Spidey action stops and starts, feeling far less than the nine or so action pages Slott gives us - much of this issue comes back to the soap operatic style of old-school Amazing Spider-Man, as Peter has to carefully navigate a personal life that's been turned upside-down by Dr. Octopus's mind control. It's not quite as action-oriented or as emotionally driven as Slott's spectacular first issue of his run, but you can't help but chuckle at some of Slott's jokes (such as the damage to Parker Industries' sign: "It's business as usual here at 'Arker Industries.' We just had a big 'P' break.") And for some of the characters that Otto had befriended and alienated along the way, Slott definitely piques your interest with a few developments.
The artwork by Humberto Ramos lends some consistency to the previous few rounds of Spider-Man stories, although the inking by Victor Olazaba looks unnecessarily heavy this issue, making it a bit difficult for even colorist Edgar Delgado to make some of Ramo's details pop. (The first page is a good example, as even the White Rabbit pointing an umbrella still requires a double or even triple take to catch that there are other villains on the same page.) That said, while some of Ramo's action pages look a little cluttered, he still nails the dramatic moments, such as J. Jonah Jameson hanging his head in the shadows following his resignation from the Mayor's office, or a panel of Johnny Storm laughing out loud at one of Spider-Man's public embarassments. In other words, it's fairly standard Ramos artwork - sometimes a bit too sketchy and distended for my liking, but with a good sense of energy and cartoonishness that works with this brighter Spider-Man tale.
But notice how I didn't say earlier there were any "big developments." Yes, I know that Marvel released the news of Silk, the new villainess who was bitten by the same spider as Peter. But honestly, that's all we've seen for now. Since the surprise has already been spoiled, and still isn't given enough context to mean anything yet, there aren't any big hooks to Amazing Spider-Man yet. There's no flashy new villain like the Hobgoblin to anchor the book, and it still very much feels like we're getting a breather, rather than seeing Peter take a hard and fast look at his life and change some things up after his near-death experience. This is very much Spider-Man business as usual, and for some that will be a welcome relief, while others (admittedly, myself included) will miss some of the excitement. Late-breaking developments with Electro or the Black Cat, at least at this point, don't cut it.
There is a little bit of good with some of the backup stories, such as Giuseppe Camuncoli expertly drawing a Black Cat story by Slott and Christos Gage, as she plots her revenge on Spider-Man from jail. The Electro storyline, drawn by Javier Rodriguez and written by Slott and Gage, feels like it's trying to emulate Nick Spencer's hangdog crooks of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, but without success. Electro's out-of-control behavior feels perfuctory, given that he's starring in a Spider-Man film later this week. Peter David and Will Sliney's preview for Spider-Man 2099 feels aimless with its by-the-books fight sequence (and some very weird character designs by Sliney), while Chris Yost and David Baldeon's story with the Scarlet Spider just feels like retreading a story that, judging by the sales numbers, pretty few readers cared about in the first place. Joe Caramagna and Chris Eliopolous's cartoony recap of Spider-Man's powers is cute, but does feel a bit off tonally compared to the rest of the book - which, even combined with a reprint of Inhuman #1, still feels a little overstuffed with filler to justify a price hike.
It's not a question of whether or not this book will sell - it will, just because everyone will want to know what's happening to Peter Parker now that he's back to the land of the living. But critics (myself included) will say... not much. The question is, how much do you miss Peter Parker? Do you miss him enough that soap operatics and a few quips will be enough to satisfy you? Or are you looking for the next big change in Peter's status quo already, even in the face of event fatigue? I wouldn't say that this comic necessarily lives up to its name, but I will say that Amazing Spider-Man remains a solid read.