With Spider-Man: Homecoming out in a few weeks it was inevitable that Marvel would go all out with publishing Spider-Man comics. One of the new series for the old web head is Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. For this new comic, Marvel is promising to take Peter Parker and Spider-Man back into a role that is familiar to Spidey fans by taking him back to New York. With the promised return to New York we are also supposed to get a Spider-Man fans are more familiar with than the rich Tony Stark-esque version currently headlining Amazing Spider-Man. It’s one thing to promise that, it’s another thing to properly execute on that. Let’s see if that is the case with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Adam Kubert and Goran Parlov
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire and Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Spider-Man goes over his origin story but Human Torch quickly stops him, reminding Spider-Man that he’s heard the story many times. Spider-Man then mentions how he has no time to himself anymore but that it is good to get lunch with the Human Torch.
When Human Torch comments on how Spider-Man’s costume is now cooler than his, Spider-Man asks why he never had Mr. Fantastic give him a special tech suit. Human Torch says he never needed that with his powers. Spider-Man thanks Human Torch for lunch and says they should hang out later and catch a movie.
While swinging through the city Spider-Man comes across two muggers robbing a woman. Spider-Man stops them both. When one of the muggers tries to pull out a gun he is somehow knocked out. Spider-Man thinks he has psychic powers now but Ant-Man appears, showing that he took out the mugger with the gun.
Ant-Man regrows with Spider-Man commenting how small his real size is. Ant-Man reveals that his helmet is busted and his current height is as tall as he can get. Spider-Man can relate and offers to look at Ant-Man’s tech. Ant-Man laughs at the offer but Spider-Man reminds him that he is a pretty smart guy.
Spider-Man notices that the mugger had an old Stark Phone with a new operating system. The woman that Spider-Man saves compliments his ability as a “Tech Guy.” She then introduces herself as Rebecca London and gives Spider-Man her business card while mentioning that they should grab coffee sometime.
After she leaves, Ant-Man tells Spider-Man he should marry Rebecca after she asked him out. He then asks Spider-Man for a life to The Mason.
As they swing across the city, Spider-Man asks Ant-Man who The Mason is. Ant-Man says that the Mason has created equipment for Hawkeye, Daredevil, Iron Man and other superheroes. Spider-Man is surprised no one has told him about the Mason before.
As they enter the Mason’s lab they see Captain America (Sam Wilson) leaving after getting his wings fixed. The Mason reminds Ant-Man that he is protective of his facility and there are protocols to bringing someone new in. He then reveals that he is trying to make sure his brother, The Tinker, who he used to work with and is now trying to do the right thing with his knowledge and abilities.
After fixing Ant-Man’s helmet Uatu suddenly appears and reveals he is working for the Mason now since he didn’t want to move to San Francisco with the others at Horizon Labs. The Mason compliments Uatu’s abilities and comments on how he may leave the lab to Uatu to take care of while he goes on a vacation.
Ant-Man mentions how Spider-Man keeps having old people as villains. As they joke around about it The Tinker takes a look at Spider-Man’s web shooters and quickly fixes the problem with it.
Spider-Man gives Uatu the hacked Stark Phone to look at since it is supposed to be impenetrable. While Uatu takes a look at the phone Spider-Man tests out his improved web shooters. Spider-Man is impressed by the enhancements that the Mason made to them.
Uatu says he just found something on the Stark Phone. Uatu reveals that the hacked phone originated from MIT Cambridge but the other remaining hacked phone has been moved to Chicago. Spider-Man says he’ll go check it out alone, turning down Ant-Man’s offer to join in on the trip.
Peter lands in Chicago five hours later. While getting out of the airport Peter calls, as Spider-Man, Rebecca and sets up a date for the next day. Rebecca tells Peter not to stand her up to play superhero.
Over in Manhattan, Johnny Storm patiently waits for Peter to go to the movies.
Back in Chicago, Spider-Man swings over to where the other hacked Stark Phone is at. He calls out the residents of a house to come out to talk. Spider-Man gets blasted by someone wearing a version of the Iron Man armor.
Back in Manhattan, Johnny is getting tired of waiting. Suddenly Teresa Parker, Peter’s long-lost sister, shows up and introduces herself to Johnny. End of main story.
The Good: Reading a comic like Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 is a refreshing experience. There is no fear in what this comic book is going to be as Chip Zdarsky goes back to basics with Spider-Man. The fun that is presented in this opening chapter already has strengthens the franchise as it stands alongside Amazing Spider-Man, rather than behind it.
What I appreciate most about Zdarsky’s Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 the most is that he doesn’t try to create fun through just a bunch of action. Instead, Zdarsky understands that the best thing about a Spider-Man comics is the interactions he has with other characters. That is something we see as Spider-Man has different types of interactions with Black Widow, Human Torch, Ant-Man, Uatu and the Mason throughout this issue.
Making slight adjustments with how Spider-Man talked to each character in this issue kept Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 from feeling overstuffed with guest stars. Zdarsky showed how flexible he can be with the dialogue choices he makes. Those dialogue choices make it so that Spider-Man talking does not get annoying to the point you wish he stop talking. At the same time, each interaction added to how fun of a read both the main and back-up story was.
Spider-Man’s interaction with Ant-Man was particularly the standout of this issue. The constant back and forth between the issue showed us how quick witted both characters are. Zdarsky highlighted how similar these two are with their banter. It almost makes you want to see a team-up book with Spider-Man and Ant-Man, like the Spidey/Deadpool comic we currently have.
Similarly, Zdarsky does a good job in a short amount of time establishing how Peter and Johnny Storm are best friends. This friendship does highlight how hard it is to stay in touch even with your best friend as both get older and deeper into their respective careers. It was good to see how they continue to stay in touch as they share a fun dynamic with one another.
In establishing how Peter and Johnny are best friends, it made Teresa Parker’s appearance at the end of the issue be a bigger surprise. Bringing back a one-and-done character like Teresa Parker, who was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business, was an unexpected choice for a character to bring back into the fold. I’m still not sure how to feel about this reveal, especially with how we still aren’t sure if she really is Peter’s younger sister. For now I’m open to Zdarsky being able to develop Teresa into an interesting character but it could easily turn the other way if he is not careful with her story.
Though Zdarsky makes sure that Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 takes place in the present, the light use of continuity was a smart one. Not bringing up Peter now being the CEO of Parker Industries outside a vague mention keeps it from feeling like you have to read dozens of Amazing Spider-Man comics to keep up with what is going on. That light continuity allows new readers just to focus on the fun of Peter’s adventures as Spider-Man rather than how it fits into what is going in the Marvel Universe present.
At the same time, even though this wasn’t a continuity heavy issue it did not mean Zdarsky didn’t want to add something new to the Marvel Universe. Bringing the Mason, the brother of the Tinker, into the fold was a fun addition. Zdarsky did enough character work with the Mason to give us a good idea as to what his backstory is without relying on a bunch of flashbacks. By not showing us a bunch of flashbacks we were able to focus on who the Mason’s is in the present and his relationship with various heroes.
The back-up story involving Black Widow was an intriguing addition to the main story. The story had a bit of a different tone as the fight Spider-Man had with Black Widow felt more personal. With the information that Black Widow gave to the SHIELD agent on Spider-Man it is clear there is more going on that what it he wants with Spider-Man’s spider sense. What that is could give us a good alternative story that is darker than the light hearted story going on in the main story.
Though this wasn’t the strongest artwork from Adam Kubert it is good to have a different art style being employed for Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1. Kubert’s art style kept in line with how fun and light hearted Zdarsky is. It was also had enough of a difference that set it apart from the mainstream appeal of the artwork we see in Amazing Spider-Man. Goran Parlov, similarly, delivered a unique artstyle that kept up the energy that you expect from the acrobatic fighting style that Spider-Man and Black Widow employ.
The Bad: The one problem that kept Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 from knocking it out of the park was the introduction of Rebecca London. The introduction of a new love interest for Spider-Man felt like it is doomed to fail from the start since it is being sold to us as a relationship for Spidey rather than Peter Parker. That fact keeps it from feeling like it’ll have any long-term effect on the series and will quickly go away after an arc or two. Hopefully that changes as the relationship progresses but for now the execution of Rebecca’s introduction did not connect like it should of.
Overall: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 is a strong start to a series that can bring new and old fans into a Spider-Man series that is not reliant on continuity. Chip Zdarsky does a great job creating a light-hearted atmosphere as Spider-Man interacts with a wide variety of characters that bring out something different from his typical banter. The hook ending could go either way on the scale of being good or bad but for now I’m willing to keep an open mind to what it will add to the series moving forward.