The start of Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man was not perfect. Amazing Spider-Man #1 had a few problems, which all centered around the Spider-Man half of the issue. That said, since it was the first issue there is plenty of time to iron out those problems. What did work was how Spencer developed what Peter Parker’s character arc will be. Spencer built off Slott’s run in the right way that felt natural and reset Peter’s character in a place Spider-Man readers are used to seeing him in. At the same time, there is a lot of potential for growth as Peter rebuilds his personal and professional life outside of being Spider-Man. Let’s see if Spencer can build off the positive momentum in the first issue with Amazing Spider-Man #2.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Laura Martin
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere in Africa some poachers kill a pack of elephants.
At a book fair in New York City, Spider-Man battles Mountain Marko and the Ringer. The Ringer is able to trap Spider-Man in his rings. Spider-Man is still able to move and knocks out the Ringer and Mountain Marko with a kick and headbutt, respectively.
After capturing the villains one of the booksellers at the fair gives Spider-Man two free books as a thank you.
When Spider-Man swings away both the Ringer and Mountain Marko mention how Spider-Man seemed happy.
The next morning over at Mary Jane Watson’s apartment Peter and MJ cuddle in the bed together. Peter reflects on his relationship with MJ. Peter shows concern since things have always gotten in the way of their relationship. MJ says that they have a chance at a fresh start even if their situation is unusual. MJ finishes by says that she loves Peter and always has.
While Peter wants to stay in bed with her the rest of the day MJ reminds him that he has a class to go to.
A little later Peter is shocked to see the Lizard teaching the class he will be attending at ESU. Peter shows concern that Lizard will eat everyone. Cindy Lawton tells Peter that Doctor Connors is an esteemed member of the ESU faculty.
Lizard transforms back into Dr. Connors. Peter wonders how he did that. Dr. Connors reveals he has surgically implanted an inhibitor chip in the back of his neck that keeps the Lizard in check when he does transform from harming other humans.
Peter still wonders why ESU gave Dr. Connors a chance to teach again. Cindy reveals that Dr. Connors has signed over dozens of patents to the university since starting to work for them. Cindy then reminds Peter that Dr. Connors is the one that opened the door to this second chance for Peter.
Dr. Connors tells his class to break into groups while he takes Peter to the side to talk.
Elsewhere on campus Black Ant and Taskmaster are able to get in unnoticed by posing as janitors. Black Ant says he may join the school after noticing two hot women walking on campus. Taskmaster reminds him that Black Ant is part of his school of gooning right now.
Back at the classroom Peter recognizes one of the devices in the room. Dr. Connors says it is the Isotope Genome Accelerator that Peter has always talked about increasing his love for science.
Internally, Peter remembers it being the device that help give him his spider powers. Dr. Connors says he is trying to use the device to help figure out a way to reverse engineer effects of hybrid properties like him and the Lizard.
Before they can continue talking Taskmaster and Black Ant bust in. Dr. Connors turns into the Lizard to defend his students. Before he can do anything the inhibitor chip stops the Lizard’s movements.
Seeing this, Peter makes a joke at Taskmasters expense. Taskmaster throws Peter against a desk and threatens everyone in the classroom. Peter uses this opportunity to mix two chemicals together to create a green smoke that covers the room.
Out of the smoke Spider-Man appears and fights off both Taskmaster and Black Ant. Spider-Man makes a few jokes at Black Ants expense. This pisses Black Ant off and he fires several sting shots. Spider-Man uses Taskmaster as a shield to block the attacks. He then knocks them out by smashing Taskmaster’s face into Black Ant.
The Lizard thanks Spider-Man for his help but wonders how he even knew to come save them. Spider-Man jokes that he used his proportional teleportation abilities of a spider to get to the classroom.
Spider-Man then helps one of the students back up. He immediately recognizes the student as being Peter. Peter is happily surprised to see Spider-Man. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #2 is a big step up from the first issue. Nick Spencer is able to improve on where Amazing Spider-Man #1 went wrong and continue to progress on the strengths of the same issue. In doing so Spencer is able to set up multiple building blocks to what is turning out to be an enjoyable Spider-Man run out of the gate.
One thing that I got out of reading Amazing Spider-Man #2 is how much this issue felt like watching the 90s Spider-Man animated series. Like that Peter Parker, we see Peter back in ESU forced to deal with the student life while dealing with his work and love life as well. Throughout this Spencer is able to drive home how much fun the character of Spider-Man can be to follow even when not everything is going well in Peter’s life. That sense of fun made it so the reader doesn’t just feel depressed by seeing how Peter can keep his personal and superhero life from getting out of control.
A big part of that fun is the fact that Spencer has Peter joke around in and out of his Spider-Man costume. That mix of having both Peter and Spider-Man make jokes in different situations kept the comedy stay fresh. That is not an easy thing to do as too many jokes has made Spider-Man come off looking lame. But by balancing it with showing the both Peter and Spider-Man making jokes Spencer does not lose steam on this part of Amazing Spider-Man #2.
Bringing back the Peter and Mary Jane Watson relationship is a good way to explain why Spider-Man is back to his joking ways. While he never necessarily lost it, it hasn’t been the same in a while. Showing that having MJ back as his girlfriend shows important this relationship is for Peter. Having that reflected in even minor villains like Mountain Marko and the Ringer noticing something is different with Spider-Man was a good way to further this idea.
Spencer was able to further build on this by showing how MJ does see this as a fresh start for both of them. Even though their past together can’t be forgotten it is that same shared history that makes Peter and MJ back together such a great thing to see. They both know that things won’t be easy but having been through so much already makes this feel like it’ll be an even stronger relationship. And MJ showed that she is the rock that Peter has been missing as she is in complete support of him moving forward from his recent drama.
Adding Doctor Connor’s back into Peter’s supporting cast was also a nice surprise to see. Spencer quickly explained how Dr. Connor’s is able to not let his Lizard side not be his dominant persona. Even though it is a very comic book explanation, it is a believable one given everything that goes on in the Marvel Universe.
Adding in how Dr. Connor’s was able to get his job at ESU back by signing over several patents also taps into how so many people see business and universities willing to look past things as long as you are able to make them a lot of money. It is something we see a lot in the news right now. Handling present day events in this way helps Spencer keep the story in Amazing Spider-Man #2 relevant while not trying to make a big statement about current events that sounds preachy.
On the Spider-Man side of things, it was fun to see how competent Spencer treated Spider-Man. Through the fights that opened and closed this issue we are able to see how Spider-Man is able to handle fights in different scenarios. With Mountain Marko and the Ringer we see how Spider-Man is able to with a fight in the open. Along with that we he is able to show how quickly he is able to think because as soon as Spider-Man gets tied up by the Ringer he still takes both villains down with his feet and head.
With the Taskmaster and Black Ant fight Spencer showed off how Peter is able to quickly think of a way to change into Spider-Man without others noticing. Using Peter’s sarcastic comments to get him out of everyone’s vision made the change easier to believe. Spider-Man then using his past knowledge with both characters put on display how experienced he is at this point in his career.
What’ll be interesting to see now is how Spencer goes about developing the villains of this series. We already gotten hints of that with Boomerang being Peter’s bad roommate. Now we see a fake Peter Parker suddenly appear at the end of the fight. Having this fake Peter appear does seem like we are going to see the return of Chameleon. It would be a smart play as Chameleon is a great character that can cause a lot of chaos for both Spider-Man and Peter’s life at the same time.
Ryan Ottley’s artwork was once again the true highlight of Amazing Spider-Man #2. As fun as Spencer’s dialogue is Ottley elevates everything that is said and all the action with his well executed artwork. Everything panel flowed very well with each other as Ottley continues to show off his skills in drawing various characters from Spider-Man’s entire cast. The only thing that I still need to get used to is how much Peter and MJ look like Invincible and Atom Eve. Though that is not really complaint since Ottley still handles the scenes with both characters well by matching their expressions to what is being said in the dialogue.
The Bad: The only problem that Amazing Spider-Man #2 runs into that keeps it from being perfect is the inner monologue. As he continues to develop everyone’s voices Spencer will need to find a better balance with all of Peter’s inner monologue. In particular, Spencer needs to not start every issue with Peter’s inner monologue over what is going on in the opening page. This makes it look like Spencer is talking to the reader rather than us getting inside Peter’s head. Striking that balance will help further improve a comic that is already proving to be incredibly fun.
Overall: Throughout Amazing Spider-Man #2 Nick Spencer strikes a great balance between the drama, comedy and action fans expect from a Spider-Man comic book. Bringing back the Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson relationship is a strong anchoring point for this series to have. Combining that with Peter finding a new way to balance out his personal and superhero lives makes Amazing Spider-Man #2 a comic Marvel fans will enjoy reading.