50 years of Spider-Man. Wow, it’s truly an incredible accomplishment. Without a doubt, Spider-Man is one of the best comic characters ever created. He is also one of the best super-heroes of any publisher. Those are the facts- deal with it.
I’m not sure how I would have wanted Spidey’s 50th birthday celebrated. He’s a hero that has given us so many amazing stories over the years. His greatness isn’t just confined to comics either, movies, video games and animated series have all shown the wall-crawler in action and doing what he does best, entertaining us. Issue #692 of Amazing Spider-Man is our way of knowing how Marvel would celebrate Spider-Man’s 50th.
The comic is broken up into three different stories with different creative teams hooking up for each. For this review I’ll talk about the merits of each separately and then we’ll get back together again at the end to discuss the overall impression of the book.
The first story “Point of Origin”, by writer Dan Slott with Humberto Ramos on pencils, was my least favourite of the three. I did enjoy the parallel drawn between Spider-Man and the new hero that is born, Alpha. I like the feel that Humberto invokes with his artwork and I think his style is very appropriate for this type of story. This is the first part of the next arc in Dan Slott’s run. I’m not terribly enthralled with the story…mostly because I’m reflecting on the most amazing Spider-Man arcs and I know this one will not compare. That is more my fault than Slott’s but I wouldn’t choose to introduce the next arc in this historic issue, seems like a classless move by Marvel. The story is alright on its own but it didn’t get me pumped for this issue or for the rest of the story to be continued later.
The second story “Spider-Man for a Night”, by writer and artist Dean Haspiel, was my second favourite story. It doesn’t feature Spider-Man at all- merely a Spider suit in a trash can in an alley. When a down-on-his-luck old man stumbles upon the suit after committing a crime he decides to play Spider-Man for a night. This is a touching tale about the strength of love and what it really means to be a hero. Sometimes the biggest heroes of all don’t put on tights and capes and they come in all different shapes and sizes. I quite enjoyed this work by Dean Haspiel. His art has an old school styling that can be found in the early years of Spidey’s library.
The third and final story “Just Right”, by writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Nuno Plati, was my favourite story. The story really hit home with me about everything that Spider-Man is about. It shows us everything that is really cool about him and why we love reading about him even after 50 years. Several times I actually chuckled out loud (or lol’d as the kids say). There is a powerful moment in this story where Peter Parker wonders about why he does what he does when it ultimately signs him up for failure. The true nature of the hero can be found within this story, I loved it.
Let’s talk overall impressions for a minute. I would have LOVED this book if not for the first story. Again I am not faulting Dan Slott for a bad story because it wasn’t bad. The placement was bad. This is a celebration of 50 years of Spider-Man, not a place to give us the first issue of a new arc. In my mind we missed out on celebrating a huge reason why many of us consider Spider-Man one of our favourite heroes: his rogue’s gallery. Spidey is probably tied for the best rogue gallery with Batman. They just don’t come better. And yet we don’t see Green Goblin, Dr. Orctopus, Vulture, Rhino, Shocker, Electro, Chameleon, Kingpin, Venom, Carnage, Hobgoblin, Scorpion, or any of his other famous rogues. That was disappointing for me. If Marvel had saved the first story for Amazing Spider-Man #693 and plugged in a story starring some of the aforementioned villains I would have argued that this issue is a must-have for every superhero comic fan out there. I can’t say that though and for that reason I say only the diehard Spider-Man fans and followers of the current series need buy this comic.
Follow Cody Mudge on Twitter- as a kid he used web-shooters loaded with silly string as weapons (true story): @codymudge.