A new era for Spider-Man kicks off this week as Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. officially take over. This new era follows the Beyond Corp era where Ben Reilly took over for 19 installments, but now Peter Parker is back in the saddle with a shiny new #1 on the cover. The expectations are high thanks to Wells’ incredible run on Hellions and this being Romita Jr.’s first ongoing since exiting his DC Comics exclusive contract. Can this first issue live up to the hype? It may be too early to tell.
As a spoiler-free review don’t expect anything revealed that’s not in the preview, but I’ll still try to explain what works and doesn’t without giving anything away. As far as first issues go, this issue definitely feels like a brand new direction. The very first page, which was teased months ago in fact, reveals Spider-Man did something terrible as he sits in a crater. Peter and those in his life are in different places, and even Peter’s personality seems a bit different. Wells is definitely going for a more classic feel for the character which should appeal to many fans.
Much of the issue leans on the mystery of Spider-Man in the crater, never quite giving us any answers but instead forcing the reader to just go with it. That is frustrating, but if you have patience you know all will be revealed eventually. The problem is though, the mystery is played in a way to artificially draw the reader in. Instead of littering the narrative with tidbits to go on so as to figure out what Peter did, the reader is in the dark entirely. Having nothing to go on, you’re left in the dark and slowly grow to not care.
The general plotting is a bit slow, too. The big mystery looms over every scene, but there’s only one action scene with Spider-Man. Instead of pondering what could be happening, you’re left asking why any of it is happening. It’s unclear yet if this is a mystery box plot, or if the first issue just doesn’t want to give us anything so lest we figure it out too early.
That mystery does make it easier to get away with Peter seemingly acting way differently. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder–you can see it in the scene with Tombstone in the preview–and due to whatever he did that messed things up, he has a lot of guilt. Peter’s attitude is where this issue shines the most as Wells gives him a more back to basics life–like not affording his rent–but also living with some kind of secret that upended everything. He’s a scrappier Peter who still cracks wise as Spider-Man but may also be ashamed of something. One might liken this secret to the original secret of being the reason Uncle Ben died, which certainly makes the depiction more like the original.
If you like Romita Jr.’s art, you’ll adore this book. His style brings a certain volume to faces and bodies, almost as if the book is in 3D. There’s a nostalgic element just in the visuals alone and Marcio Menyz does a great job with colors too. Characters are lifted up from backgrounds, and spatially it’s easier to track things thanks to color choices. Given this narrative drops Peter into an old-school feel, the art suits the story. Tombstone and other hulking villains have a thickness and size that’s well done.
Scott Hanna inks the issue with good crispness. It’s not too dark or foreboding although the colors aren’t bright and positive either. There’s a real-world feel to the visuals and inking.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 is an interesting start, but it’s too early to say if we’re getting an all-time classic or a new pit-stop story arc that will soon be forgotten. That’s because it’s way too early to understand the big mystery and hook, which frustratingly leaves readers in the dark. That said, if you love classic Spider-Man, there’s more than enough here to enjoy. From the visuals to Peter’s attitude, we haven’t seen this Spider-Man in a long time.
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