Everyone’s favorite web-slinger is back out with yet another new #1 issue (how many have there been now?). The issue features writer Nick Spencer — many readers will have negative memories of him from his work on Secret Empire — and artist Ryan Ottley — many readers will be excited about from his work on Image Comics’ Invincible. To give a full review will require spoilers. Don’t worry, I’ll give a general review first and then warn you before we enter spoiler territory.
The new creative team jump right into high adventure with our hero with a huge assortment of characters including many of Spidey’s usuals but also Avengers villains and more as they come together to fight an alien invasion. And this is balanced by smaller-scale story showing Peter’s personal and professional lives as he repeatedly runs into the Parker luck.
“Balanced” is perhaps the best word to describe Spencer’s plot approach in general for this issue. There are fast paced moments but those moments are balanced by slower, more personal scenes. There are larger action pieces where you see Spidey among his fellow heroes but there are also scenes where he fights on his own.
Ottley’s artwork is exactly what anyone who has seen his art before would expect. It’s a signature style that is very dynamic and obviously skilled but also a little more Saturday morning cartoonish than many other comic artists. There’s a simplicity to Ottley’s work, with things like Peter’s jaw being the same sort of square that would fit into Batman the Animated Series.
One thing I will say is that I don’t understand why Marvel seems to keep coming away from a more mature, darker slant on the Spider-Man comics. As far as sales go, the highest point of all-time was certainly when McFarlane was writing and drawing Spider-Man, which ended up having one of the highest-selling comics of all time. That same success came again back when Marvel was at a low point and they decided to launch Marvel Knights Spider-Man. That series caught the interest and sales of readers. I think there’s an appetite for those kinds of Spider-Man stories. However, instead of going back to those points that have brought some big success Marvel keeps wanting to go back to lighter or sillier fare. That’s not a knock on this issue per se, it’s just saying that while this issue was good I think a different direction could have been better. It feels like lighter fare when something with more meat might have been more enjoyable.
SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION *****************
The highlights of the issue to me were seeing the appearance of Mysterio as the explanation behind the alien invasion, and as you may have heard about already the strong hints that finally, after many many years of fans anger at one of comicdom’s most hated storylines, we may see “One More Day” reversed and Peter and Mary Jane back together. The issue hints at their reunion from beginning to end as we see the couple together on the first page right to when the new villain reveals that he knows who Spidey is and has supernatural power. I can’t help but think this could be Mephisto himself in one of his many forms.
The problem though is that while I have waited for Marvel to finally reverse OMD for years I can’t be sure they’re going to do it. This is certainly the strongest they’ve hinted at it so far, but they have hinted at it before and it turned out it was just teasing to try to sell more books. This is also a problem in that every time Marvel goes back to that well of hinting at reversing “One More Day” but then don’t actually pull the trigger it brings up those negative feelings all over again for many fans who hated the storyline. It’s like they keep poking at an old wound but not realizing it taints the new story they’re trying to tell. It’s like if the new Star Wars movies kept bringing up midichlorians. In both cases, no, that was a mistake that many fans hated, it’s better to just never bring it up again, unless of course you’re going to actually try to fix it.
Whatever they do they need to not make it a half measure. If they’re going to reverse OMD, then they should have Spidey and MJ back together and married again. Anything else will seem like a half-hearted attempt at trying to please fans but without actually reversing what upset them in the first place.
In short, this comic was a good but not great read. The writing and art didn’t blow me away but it was enjoyable enough to keep me interested and most importantly the hints in the story that I mentioned above have me excited at what might (and had better) be coming. If you’re a Spidey fan this is a solid read and good jumping-on point.