I love superheroes! I always have. Since I was a kid and used to watch Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, Fantastic Four (I still remember the theme song to this one), Superman: The Animated Series and, of course, Spider-Man, as well as read my fair share of whatever comic books my dad would let me pick up at the supermarket rack, I have been enamored by heroes in tights battling evildoers and coming out on top. And from my love of superheroes comes a different love for something that was — for a time, at least — a very big trope used in comics: the superhero team-ups. The superhero team-up is something that has gotten lost in today's comics. We still have books like Justice League and The Avengers, but the solo characters pretty much remain solo in their own titles. Something that has made me realize that the team-up is not as explored in comics as it once was is Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series, where Batman teams up with a lesser-known character in DC's canon and battles the evil-doers alongside them. Well, Marvel has decided to take this same route with their biggest character in a new superhero team-up series called Avenging Spider-Man. And, let me just say, boy does it work!
In this premiere issue, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man teams up with Red Hulk to rescue Mayor J. Jonah Jameson from the Moloids. This is also the second time we have seen the Moloids in two weeks (the first being The Incredible Hulk #1), that I can tell. I wonder if they're making a comeback. There are, however, no "sexy" Moloids from their last appearance, though.
Zeb Wells gives us a Spider-Man comic that stands out amongst the others, and Spider-Man is featured in quite a few Marvel books right now. As Spidey even points out in this issue, he is a member of "any super-team that will have [him]…including two (TWO!) separate teams of Avengers." I did not think I would, but I'm even digging him in FF. No one can replace Johnny Storm (I await Fantastic Four #600 with fierce abandon), but if anyone could…
The issue has a great scene of dialogue between Spider-Man and his Avenging teammates. The "Not it" gag is a perfect example of what you rarely get in comics (with exception to the DeMatteis/Giffen Justice League International): funny banter after they take the bad guy down. With this being a superhero team-up book, it is truly funny that the book opens on a battle, but focuses more on the character dialogue than the actual fight. You would think that it would be a gripe, but far from it. Having Marvel characters acting like children is the funniest thing out of Marvel in a long time!
But don't misunderstand me. There is quite a bit of action in this issue! Between the Moloids attack on the New York Marathon (yeah, that TOTALLY happened) and particular monster that I will leave for those who have yet to read the book, Wells gives a lot for Joe Mad to do.
Wells also gives us the web-slinger at his snarkiest! You get so many one-liners that have you laughing out loud and re-reading them, just so you can do it all over again. As a longtime Spidey fan, this is one of the many things that I want from Spider-Man! While I, for the most part, enjoyed Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man, it missed some of humor that had made Spider-Man a relatable character. Slott's been doing great, but Wells has this aspect of the character down pat!
Which brings us to the glorious return of Joe Mad! Joe Madureira has been absent from comics for a while now and in the far off land of THQ, where he worked on my other love: video games. But Mad is back with a vengeance!
I was never a Madureira fan. I was not a reader of the Ultimate Comics line until fairly recently and I was not reading Uncanny X-Men when he was drawing it (or before or after, really), so I only had heard of his work rather than experience any of it. But I have to say: now, Mad's got himself a new fan!
Madureira's art on this title is freakin' gorgeous! His sketchy form fits the character and Wells' tone of the issue so well. His panels are fluid and perfectly time how the reader should read the book. There are pages that you fly through and others where you just pause and take in everything that is happening. And as a big fan of onomatopoeia, the man's sound effects are some of the best that comics have to offer! It's a wonder how the medium ever let Joe Mad out of their grasp, but we can all revel in the fact that he is back and still makes you love every page he draws.
One thing that Marvel has also chosen to give us along with the $3.99 price tag is a digital copy of the issue. While this makes no change to how you would regard the book's content, this is something that I feel more comics should try to implement. Honestly, with titles like DC's Men of War charging $3.99, this title gives us far more bang for our collective bucks. Now that they have also chosen to implement this in their upcoming Ultimate Comics titles, I hope that this goes on to be a medium standard.
I know I have said a lot about this single premiere issue, but what was very much a surprise to me was just how FUN this book was! My biggest issue with Marvel has always been that it takes itself far too seriously. And without characters like Howard the Duck around, it remains more and more difficult to find a book that you can laugh at in Marvel's line. Dan Slott has been doing a great job with bringing fun back to Marvel (say what you will about Spider-Island, but it was a hoot) and even Mark Waid's Daredevil has given that character a more light-hearted tone than one may be used to. While I liked Marvel merging all the random Spidey titles into a two-per-month Amazing Spider-Man series, I cannot wait to drop four bucks next month on the next Avenging Spider-Man. And, as for this issue, Avenging Spider-Man #1 is the most fun I have had reading a comic this year!
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter at @nitroslick.