Amazing Fantasy is the most influential series of all time. Not only did it introduce the world to Spider-Man, but featured, aptly, amazing sci-fi and fantasy stories. It inspired a generation, and it returns this week from Marvel Comics. Leading the series is writer and artist Kaare Andrews with letterer Joe Sabino, who promise Captain America, Spider-Man, and Black Widow on the cover. Can this new Amazing Fantasy series live up to the name?
This is a spoiler-free review save for anything that was revealed in the preview. As you can see in the preview, Captain America wakes up on a beach wracked with guilt for being the only survivor on a battleship in the heat of WWII. He soon discovers the island he is on doesn’t have tropical drinks, but dangerous and wild griffins. As a period piece, Andrews makes sure to position Cap’s personality in the classical sense; more soldier than a superhero. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is firmly set during the ’60s as we can see someone is referring to the barricading of Cuba. Soon he too finds himself on a mysterious island. One can surmise something is drawing them to this island, and they may very well be from different times.
So begins the mystery in Amazing Fantasy, which mixes action and adventure well. Andrews infuses the story with fantasy via the creatures both Spider-Man and Captain America face off against. There’s a Tarzan vibe to the island itself, and it’s clear there’s lawlessness these heroes will have to endure. As a first issue, this issue gets the heroes where they need to be while supplying the reader enough detail to start to question what is really going on.
And that doesn’t even cover Black Widow, who has a good chunk of the story in this issue. Her inclusion is intriguing for the character and what this could mean to her origins. She also supplies the story with a third character type that’ll surely create an interesting dynamic between the overly serious Captain America and the overly silly Spider-Man.
The word balloons add ample attitude and period drama feel thanks to their placement and the use of thought balloons which have gone out of style in modern comics stories. Sabino uses subtle notes to amp up dialogue, like in one scene where the boldness around the balloon increases. Sound effects do well to capture different feels, like animal noises or the “ba-dunk” of a mode of transportation.
It may not be immediately obvious, but Andrews uses slightly different art styles for each hero. This helps establish the different personalities of each character ever so slightly. It’s a smart choice, giving Captain America a more detailed illustrated style versus Black Widow’s more dreamlike and moody art versus Spider-Man’s bright and bubbly vibe.
Amazing Fantasy is the start of a fun series that is self-contained enough for brand new readers who love these characters to jump on board for. From an artistic standpoint, Andrews is doing interesting things visually while characterizing each hero well. Amazing Fantasy perfectly exudes old-fashioned charm.
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