PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #1 from Marvel Comics. Available July 11th, 2018, the creative team for this series features writing from Nick Spencer, art from Ryan Ottley, inks by Cliff Rathburn, colors by Laura Martin, and lettering from VC’s Joe Caramagna.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s review of…
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #1
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
Marvel Comics has been implementing a new method of publication, The Fresh Start. This is where books have been stopped, regardless of numbering and relaunched with a whole new numerical count (along with the Legacy count) and in some cases a whole new creative team. Last month’s Amazing Spider-Man #801 said goodbye to Dan Slott who had been writing Amazing Spider-Man for the better part of ten years, as well as the end of the Marvel Legacy numbering. This week, we are privy to a fresh start with Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley.
The New Kids on the Block:
Usually I’ll talk a bit of what has come before in a series as to help the reader understand the current review of a book. However in this case, it wouldn’t matter as it’s all-new! So instead I’ll give us a bit of a run down of the new team!
Nick Spencer is no stranger to the Marvel Universe. His list of writing credits is long and while Avengers-themed at best, he has touched base on all manner of characters either on their own or through the main team books he wrote. What is interesting is with Spencer writing Amazing Spider-Man now, it’s reminiscent of his time writing Superior Foes of Spider-Man; a time when his book was eclipsed by Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man, now we have him once again starting in Slott’s shadow. Not to say Nick Spencer’s writing isn’t up to par, it’s just his most notable books are all third teir: Morning Glories, Thief of Thieves, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (DC), Iron Man 2.0, Secret Avengers, and Superior Foes of Spider-Man to name a few.
With the exception of the first two titles, the rest are all mainstream second-rate series which were made to accompany a main series. While some of these have been good (Secret Avengers and Superior Foes of Spider-Man come to mind), they have also been nothing to set the world on fire. Now before you start harassing me on Twitter, yes, the first two independent titles have been very good, but when one writer (good or bad) jumps from independent to mainstream, sometimes it can be a horse of a different color. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for him as he’s never really had a hand with Spider-Man; the Spider-Man in Superior Foes wasn’t really Spider-Man, as we all know the Superior Spider-Man was Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker’s body.
Ryan Ottley is the more interesting of the two. As an artist, Ottley has one mainstream title under his belt – Superman/Batman Annual #1 from DC Comics. His other two credits come from work at Image Comics on the titles The Haunt and Invincible. Now being an arist and jumping from an independent title to a mainstream book is a lot different and easier than a writer. If you’re a good artist, you’re a good artist. Although anyone in the buisness will tell you, Spider-Man is probably the hardest character to tackle just because he’s so dynamic in his poses.
He’s a rookie and this is his chance to really shine and show us his “A” game. Most maintream breakout artists champ at the bit to lay their pencils to Spider-Man, so this for mostly anyone would be a dream job. Whereas Ottley isn’t so much a rookie, he might as well be now.
Ottley’s Invincible work is his longest stint to-date so here’s hoping that at Marvel he can have his chance to spread his wings and shine. An artist is always evolving so it’ll be fun to see what he can bring over time to the character. We’ll delve more into this later.
This book is amazing! When Spencer called his first arc ‘Back to Basics,’ it’s as if Spencer reached back into what makes Spider-Man so well and loved, and brought it back in the first 37 pages. Spencer gives us a promise of so much to come in his future on this book. We have a very tight Peter and Mary Jane relationship. Peter is dreaming about her and they seem to be repairing the damage that was wrought from Peter not making it to the church on time in the rewritten history of the couple’s wedding day. As a matter of fact, we are privy to Peter dreaming about he and Mary Jane atop the Empire State Building in a very Titanic like pose. We have comedy and just good ole’ fashion fun in this book. Treated to a over-the-top plan by none other than Mysterio.
However, what makes Nick Spencer an amazing writer is his attention to detail. He’s not simply ignoring everything Slott had established. Good or bad, what has come before is something a new writer needs to acknowledge, even just in passing. A lot of what has transpired in the last 5 years of Slott’s run has probable ramafications and Spencer gives this to us. The biggest one is Peter is found to have plagiarized his Graduate work while at E.S.U. (Empire State University) as it was compared to previous work of Otto Octavius. This can be easily explained because for some time, Doctor Octopus had transfered his own consciousness into the body of Peter Parker. That starts a domino effect in Peter’s life as he’s fired from the Daily Bugle as the sciecne editor of the paper and his graduate work is under review, which means he could very well lose his hard-earned degree. One could say that Spencer has begun a slick method of dismantling all that has come before him so he can have his own canvas to work with.
One small thing which I noticed is a tell of Spencer’s Spider-Man work from The Superior Foes. We have a set up Boomerang being Peter Parker’s new roomate (something which was explained in the Amazing Spider-Man FCBD issue). Also, when Mysterio goes to trial, his lawyer is Janice Lincoln, the daughter of Tombstone and the current female Beetle in the Spider-Man Rogues Gallery.
This is part of the ‘post credits’ scene in the book. The first is the trial of Mysterio and the second is Peter being given another chance to return to college to work on a different thesis. He finds himself placed in the class of Dr. Curt Conners, the Lizard, but the Lizard is teaching the class! The trial of Mysterio is written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Salvador Larocca; honestly a surprise installment. Mysterio’s trial sees Quentin Beck suffereing from insane delusions which give some possible insight in future issues of Amazing Spider-Man.
Ryan Ottley’s art is good in this issue. We get a taste of this mainstream rookie’s ability to hang with not just Spider-Man, but the Marvel Universe as a whole. The book opens with Spider-Man helping the Avengers deal with Mysterio’s would-be alien invasion. So we see him tackle various Marvel characters in brief cameo panel shots, but where Ottley’s abilities seem to lay is in his difference of regular people. Between Peter, MJ, Robbie, Aunt May, and a host of others, each character is different. Some artists, even bigger popular ones, have a tendency to skip out on making averge people, human people different from one another. Even the characters in the background of Ottley’s work stand out as original and solitary. If Ottley can bring the magic he brought to this issue and spread it out over however long his run will be, he’ll be on the fast track at Marvel for sure.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
I love this book…but…UGH! Volume 5! Another volume. I’m not a fan of this rebooting a series and starting the issue numbers over at 1. It becomes irksome. Especially for those of us who have collections that reach back deep in the annals of time. Agreed though, Marvel has never been the easiest when it comes to numbering series or having series change titles while keeping the same numerical count. The whole Marvel Fresh Start has left a bad taste in my mouth. Is this enough to kill my overall thoughts of the book? Not really, it reflects more on Marvel Editorial’s arm than on the writer and artist of the book. This book is worth your coin and attention this week.
This book leaves me hopeful for a return of the Spider-Man I know, the webspinner I grew up with. However, ten years ago when they took away the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, Slott’s early issues of Amazing Spider-Man left me hopeful as well. There was a time when even Slott made the book fun and exciting, then he lost his mind. So I would need more issues under Spencer’s belt but judging by this first issue, we’re on the right path!
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Whaaaat? But why, Christian? Yes, yes, I love this book! But the whole starting over, no matter who writes it, is going to sting a bit. In the past when new teams have taken over books like Amazing Spider-Man, we aren’t given a sense of starting over. For example, when J. Michael Straczynski took over Amazing Spider-Man back in 2001, his first issue, while it was his first issue, read like a continuation of everything that had come before; that issue was new, it was fresh but I felt like it carried over. I personally enjoy when creative teams don’t skip a beat while also making everything seem new and fresh. That is where my low score comes from. But yes, I really did enjoy this book and I’m sure some of you aren’t as critical as I am. So go and please see it for yourself!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 can be purchased on ComiXology and available
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, July 11th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Nick Spencer
Letterer – Joe Caramagna
Publisher – Marvel Comics