Although I have a fancy website that highlights my nerd credentials, Marvel has taken to relaunching their comic book titles so frequently that even I can’t keep up with it. So with yet another relaunch of the Amazing Spider-Man title happening recently, I offer this article as a public service.
In March 2018, it was announced that writer Nick Spencer would be writing the Amazing Spider-Man title beginning with a new #1, replacing long-time writer Dan Slott. Releasing twice a month, Amazing Spider-Man was marketed as a “Back to Basics” approach and is currently on issue 25(ish), having just wrapped up a Kraven the Hunter storyline.
Let’s not bury the lede: Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man is EXCELLENT. Regularly selling around 100K copies, it also routinely places in the top 10, meaning it is a commercial success as well. Let me tell you why.
It is unapologetically a throw back. First appearing in the book Amazing Fantasy #15 from August 1962, 57-year-old Peter Parker is no longer the hottest thing. That’s just as well because I’m so out of touch I can hardly recognize the hottest thing, which is weird because I used to be the hottest thing, nerds. Now I feel like Homer coming to grips with the fact that I am no longer the “bossest.” In fact, I’m probably cementing my out-of-touchness by referencing a Simpsons episode from…let’s see…that can’t be right…27 years ago.
This current relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t care that it’s about as current as Homer Simpson. It’s a throw back to the days when Spider-Man comics were Peter, MJ, and goofy villains like Boomerang. The stories unapologetically pick the bones of decades-old stories and that’s the charm.
Did I mention that MJ is back? Face it, Tiger, that’s what you wanted.
It’s not the Peter Parker as seen in the MCU, nor is it the take on Spider-Man as seen in Into the Spider-Verse, but that’s OK. Miles Morales has his own series and I’m really happy that exists. The current Amazing Spider-Man is Peter Parker for dumb nerds like me who still make Simpsons references and have read comics since the Larry Hama and Chris Claremont days.
It unashamedly leans into Peter’s life-long quest of responsibility. That heroes should stand up and fight against bad guys is a message so explicitly obvious in superhero comics that it’s a wonder we don’t see more of it among the brightly-colored panel pages of today’s comics.
This current iteration of Amazing Spider-Man features down-on-his-luck Peter Parker trying to balance a normal life while he protects the people of New York City from bad guys. I don’t think it has mentioned his Uncle Ben once, but I can’t help but think he’d be proud of Peter right now.
It has never looked more gorgeous. Always credit artists, kids, and it was the announcement that Ryan Ottley would be the main penciler that initially excited me about the series.
For those who don’t know, Ottley is the artist who brought alive Robert Kirkman’s Invincible series for 100+ issues. He’s amazing, pardon the pun. Ottley is paired with Spider-Man legend Humberto Ramos, meaning those two can hit the twice-monthly schedule while creating a book that has rarely looked better in the 50+ year of the character.
While I’m at it, let’s give credit to editors Nick Lowe and Kathleen Wisneski for their wonderful guidance of the title.
Amazing Spider-Man isn’t being written to present twists so twisty that it should not read by those prone to episodes, even if that’s just episodes of the long-running fan-favorite, Supernatural, just now being cancelled after it’s 312th season.
The stories aren’t jaw-droppers and they aren’t written to be. The action in Amazing Spider-Man is straightforward and–dare I say it–DARNED FUN. The Kraven storyline gets a little grim as one would expect, but the first dozen issues are breezy and delightful.
In fact, those first dozen issues are collected into two great trades. The first one is titled “Back to Basics,” as apt a name as I can think of. Get it here for just over $10! And here is the 2nd one. You’ll know after reading those trades if the title is for you. I’m betting you’ll enjoy it, because it’s amazing.