Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Mane Event - Amazing Spider-Man #692

Everyone loves their favourite neighbourhood wallcrawler and this month he turns 50!

Back in August 1962, Stan Lee first created ol' Web Head and with this latest comic we celebrate his half century with a bumper issue brought to us by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Fialkov and Nuno Plati.

Now with such a list of writers and artists, it’s completely understandable that instead of one big story they’re separated it down into three separate tales following different aspects. The Slott/Ramos combo takes the major piece as this is the start of their latest plot, with the introduction of a new character and an old adversary too.

Each of the different stories act as small individual tributes to the Spider-Man mythology. In a series of events that mimic the creation of Spider-Man we see a completely normal and easily ignored Andy Maguire be thrust into herodom through a freak accident at Orion lab. This obviously hits close to home with Peter through his own experiences but now he has to take responsibility for his own creation. Following the infancy of Alpha and his potential (as Reed Richards puts it) begins an interesting chain of events for Spider-Man, including having to deal with his own jealousy at him having the teenage life that Peter really wanted.

It’s a nice piece of writing when you consider it could have been how Spider-Man started out if he didn’t have the strong moral guidance of Uncle Ben. While it feels familiar it also has a new angle to explore.

From an artwork point of view what can I say... it is typical Ramos work and stays strong to what he does best whether you’re a fan or not.

The second story is from Dean Haspiel and takes us back to a bygone age. Working more as a “What If” it follows a small time crook who finds Spidey’s old outfit when, in a moment of crisis, Peter casts it off. The artwork and story hark back to earlier issues of Spidey. It’s short and punchy with a moralistic ending meant to be a thank you to Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita. Although it’s not meant to be, the ineptitude of the main character who dons the mask makes it a little tongue-in-cheek to begin with, but when you read more and see why this has happened it does tug at your heartstrings. It may be a tiny bit clichéd but it does hit the emotional notes.

The third and final story is one that actually follows Peter Parker as Spider-Man. In typical Parker style his luck really isn’t in and he’s desperately trying to get to university as a guest lecturer. Backed into a corner he has to resort to pulling on the spandex to get across town but the suit also carries certain obligations that he has to uphold to the city. As the story progresses we see different incidents that are opening up, both bad and cringeworthy, which are dragging him down. It’s only the chance encounter of a young boy and his bullies that he gets to see the silver lining in it all and can raise his head again.

I have to admit that of the three stories this one grabbed me the least. It didn’t really feel like a story at all just a number of chance encounters which didn’t go in Peter’s favour. The artwork came across as a little confusing as it has a mix of very detailed images, which look very much at home with today’s CGI-based cartoons as well as having some lesser detailed comics. It’s quirky but really not to my taste.

This issue works as a nod to Spidey’s creators (mostly) but also sets off the new arc on the horizon. It’ll be interesting to see where Alpha goes and how this develops the Spider-Man storyline. Considering who the main reveal is at the end then you can also see that there is potential for a few crossovers from similar Spidey-based comics.

The issue for me was carried by Dan Slott so it’s worth getting it for that storyline alone. The other two were decorations around the cake. Worth getting for a Spidey fan and also a good little jump on point if you’re not worried about the extras.

Happy Birthday Peter Parker! From Ben, Matt and the PL team!

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