When word got out Chip Zdarsky would be writing Spider-Man, fans of the talented, underrated co-creator of Sex Criminals (yours truly included) rejoiced. The guy is hilarious and has shown real comedic chops. Dare I say he could bring a genius level of comedy to a character that hasn’t been very funny (in this reviewer’s opinion) in a long time?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The web slinging, wallcrawling wonder returns to New York City in the all-new PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN. A companion series to the best-selling Amazing Spider-Man series, Peter Parker is going back-to-basics for big heroics in the Big Apple. Featuring adversaries old and new, be there as Spider-Man returns to his friendly neighborhood for his never-ending battle against crime and the dreaded “Parker Luck.”
Why does this matter?
For the most part, Dan Slott has been running the Spider-Man show for a very long time and for good reason because he’s done an excellent job at it. That said, it’s nice to see new blood writing the greatest hero of all time. This series uses some classic Spider-Man villains, (Vulture, Kingpin!) and draws on an interesting Parker family member who hasn’t been used for some time.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Seriously, why are heroes always fighting?
In six issues (plus the free comic book day comic) Zdarsky gets a lot of storytelling done in an economical and well paced way. It opens with the free comic book day comic reminding us the relationship Peter has with MJ now and then dives right into a Vulture stopping mission. This Vulture sighting is key because it comes back around later in the book which is rewarding like one might see in a film. As the story progresses Zdarsky weaves in super friends (Human Torch!), sets Peter up with a new romantic fling, and develops an interesting dynamic for Peter to manage between the Tinkerer and a brand new (to my knowledge) character to the Marvel universe. To add to this ball of wax Zdarsky even weaves in a tender moment between Spider-Man and J.J. Jameson that may change their relationship forever (until Marvel reboots Spider-Man again of course!).
So what about the comedy? Honest to god this is a funny book with great quips and humor throughout. A laugh out loud moment occurs when Spider-Man literally takes the stage at a stand-up nightclub. It’s honestly a scene I can’t believe hasn’t happened yet and it’s great. Zdarsky seems to chime in with editors notes consistently too, which add a bit of humor from the writer himself.
The art throughout this volume is tops, and really, what should you expect from a master like Adam Kubert? I particularly dig how skinny and angular Kubert draws Spider-Man and he gets to draw him with his mask up quite a bit too (another iconic element). Speaking of iconic elements, this book has a lot of Spidey homages to enjoy for longtime fans like Spider-Man lifting things and plenty of spider-sense tomfoolery. Michael Walsh draws the last chapter in this volume which ends up being the most heartfelt and meaningful as it focuses on the Jameson meeting. Walsh’s lines are a bit rougher than Kubert’s giving the story a more meaningful indie feel that suits the dialogue-heavy emotional scene.
These two get real.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Probably not a negative for some, but this book could probably be titled Spider-Man (and friends) because there are a lot of supporting characters in this book. Spider-Man is sometimes a loner, usually with his back against the wall, but instead, there’s more of an ensemble here. That allows less introspection for the character himself and more of a story that allows the character to react to situations and keep moving forward. The relationship element is refreshing, but very little is done with it. There’s a slow game approach to the storytelling for sure. This becomes a bit more irksome when the book ends on a cliffhanger. It’s a pretty big cliffhanger to boot and it’s pretty clear this is more of a 12 issue arc than a 6 issue arc. That’s all well and good, but expect to shout, “Wait, what happens next” when this book is over.
Is It Good?
The quip happy Spider-Man is back in this fun new Spider-Man series that puts the character’s life on a fast track to complicated. By all indications, this trade paperback proves Zdarsky is good at writing Spider-Man and it’s my hope he stays on for some time!
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