Spider-Man is and always will be my favorite superhero. My own identity as a comics fan and the wall-crawler are so intertwined that I can honestly say without any sense of hyperbole that I would not be the man I am today without Spidey. I care what people do with Peter Parker, I swore off Marvel entirely for two years due to the end of the Clone Saga and then just as the book was returning to glory I quit the book again due to (shudder) “One More Day” and its subsequent fallout. While a significant number of comics under the Marvel banner have been quite successful, many of Spidey’s most passionate fans have been less than impressed, rightfully upset by the mishandling of the Spider-Man himself and the large cast of characters he has interacted with for decades. For these reasons alone, fans of Amazing Spider-Man and other Spider-Man spin-off titles have boycotted the books until these issued are properly addressed.
However, with the “Secret Wars” event-comic, Marvel has bought themselves a golden opportunity when it comes to possibly righting the wrongs committed against the Web-Head. With all the reality shifting that was going on throughout the books, they could relaunch the book in a way that could appease older fans, while still giving new fans enough to follow along.
So here I sit, comic in hand. One, two, three… go.
The first issues starts with Peter Parker as CEO of Parker Industries, debuting his version of an Apple Watch like device. Spider-Man is the company “mascot” who also doubles as Pete’s “bodyguard.” Peter and the hero Mockingbird are in Shanghai pursuing members of the group known as Zodiac in a slightly Tumbler-inspired Spider-Mobile (because reasons, okay?!).
Spidey and Mockingbird stop the thugs and it seems that Zodiac is trying to get some unknown information off the Parker Industries servers. With that all in order, Peter jets to New York in his private plane to attend the wedding of his former Horizon Labs boss. Zodiac attacks again setting up that Peter will be going after Zodiac over the next few issues.There is a bunch of other little tidbits going on in this issue, but this isn’t spoiler corner so if you want to know everything that happens you can go plop down your coin and check it out.
I’d love to be spraying venom on this comic from high upon my soapbox, but this isn’t a bad comic. Oh, let’s be clear, I have a big helping of beef with some off the things they are doing here, but they did get a fair amount right. Peter for the most part, is spot on in terms of characterization. I honestly feel that if he were in the position this comic places him, Peter would act just as he does in Amazing Spider-Man #1. The motto, “With great power comes great responsibility,” doesn’t just go away once the man takes off the webs. Though unexpected, it’s actually fairly reasonable to could see Peter running a company as he is shown here. Additionally, Peter is pretty funny and the book never gets bogged down with trying to act more serious then it is. The art is pretty eye-catching as well, showcasing a good sense of motion while remaining highly detailed as well.
In regard to the bad, the first and biggest problem the book even goes as far as to call out, and that is that this all seems just a little like another Marvel hero, what was his name again? Oh yeah it’s…
Why the ever-loving flying fuzz-bucket is Peter Parker now, as the comic so eloquently puts it, “the poor man’s Tony Stark?” We have enough super-powered rich people running around the Big Two to fill their own special rack. Why take the core of Spider-Man, the story of a man with super-powers and real everyday problems like paying the rent on time trying to do the best he can and throw it out so Spidey can go globe trotting? Even though Spider-Man swung high above us, he had to hump it like the rest of us to make ends meet, and sometimes despite his best efforts, things didn’t work out. Peter Parker was the everyman, he was us, and now that is lost and another piece of what made the character important and unique in the first place has gone to the ether.
While we’re on the subject of Tony Stark, now I know Peter is no dumby, but he isn’t nor has he ever been Tony Stark level smart. Do we really have to show him being such a whiz-kid that he can learn stunt driving WHILE also learning to speak in Mandarin?! The Peter I knew had to bust his ass studying even with his natural talents, but I guess money fixes any shortcomings or flaws you have as a person.
Finally, and this just came to me, while we see all kinds of new(ish) characters, where were any of the classic Spider-Man cast? In a book that is supposed to be reintroducing the character we see nothing of J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Robertson, any of the rest of the Daily Bugle crew, Mary Jane, or even Aunt May. I get you are trying move forward, but why does that mean the alienation of the characters that made this book what it was since the Stan, Steve, and then Romita Sr. days?
In the end, this is a well executed comic, and if it didn’t happen to have the name Peter Parker attached to it I’d probably give it all high marks. I can see many new readers liking this, which saddens me to a certain extent since it will probably mean the character continuing down a path away from all the things so many have loved about him. If you pick it up and enjoy it, all the more power to you, but it doesn’t do it for me.