Welcome to All Amazing, a series in which I review every issue of Marvel’s flagship title, The Amazing Spider-Man. Last time Spidey was all about the cash, today he does some real heroics both in and out of a sewer.
The Amazing Spider-Man #2
Issue 2 of any book is a difficult task, you need to keep the momentum going from Issue 1 while offering something new to keep the readers hooked. Amazing #2 does a pretty good job of balancing out some of Issue #1’s weaknesses, while contributing two pretty significant villains to the Marvel universe, but the tone is still very episodic and comedic. Today this would be a parody comic, and yet it really feels pretty true to Spider-Man as he’ll go on. I think this is a stronger start than Issue #1, but it’s pretty goofy at times…
As before, the book is divided into two stories, with the first introducing readers to The Vulture. Here the character is a lot simpler than he’ll become, and he’s mostly played for laughs. A comical, bird themed thief who taunts the police with his intended target before swooping in and stealing the goods from underneath their noses. There’s something genuinely amusing in the sheer joy the old man takes from just being a good thief. At one point he tricks the police by popping up from the sewers instead of down from the sky, and then flies off down a particularly large sewer pipe to make his escape. The entire time he seems just thrilled to be the Vulture. I miss villains like this.
It’s also fun to see Spidey go up against an actual super villain for the first time. This issue kicks Peter Parker off on his photojournalism career, and while trying to get the perfect shot of the crook, he gets roped in to some real heroics. He’s also developing more of the sense of humour and chatterbox nature we’ll come to know. It’s nice to see that Peter is still a new hero here too, who is still learning how to fit his life and crime fighting career together. When his first run-in doesn’t go quite to plan, he takes time to rethink his approach and really nail the complexities of being a photographer and superhero at the same time.
Despite the Vulture, the second story is actually the goofier of the two, and introduces perhaps the weirdest origin story to an established character. While picking up a clock from a very cheap repair store, Peter is introduced to The Tinkerer, a modest little man who just happens to set off his spider-sense. Later he figures out that The Tinkerer has been hiding cameras in the clocks to spy on crucial targets around the city. He goes to confront the inventor, only to find that The Tinkerer is an alien spy who’s planning on taking over the world. He beats the crap out of them and they leave in their spaceship, and for some reason decide never to return.
This is such a goofy plot and even when it’s obviously hamming it up it never quite works. The Tinkerer has become such a mainstay in the Marvel universe, and I’m sure the origin has been retconned today, but his first appearance as a little green man from space was totally absurd. Worse still, Spider-Man spends quite some time in this story trapped in giant snowglobe, masterminding an escape so specific and convenient that those Adam West Batman gags start to seem a whole lot more accurate.
I was also pretty intrigued by how undeveloped the Spider-Sense is here, it responds less to danger and more to general paranoia and ‘whatever-Peter-needs-to-know-right-now’ moments. It’s pretty early for the character so some development is to be expected, but it’s occasionally a little too convenient here.
Special mention goes to the first example I could find of Spider-Man actually making a joke. It was terrible.
All in all, Issue #2 is stronger than the first. We still see a lot of Peter’s personal life, but he gets the chance to really be a hero here. The tone is still pure comedy, but the art is fun and nostalgia carries you through. The second story looks great, but not once does the Vulture look threatening or exciting. Still, the classic characters are coming fast and thick, and it’s pretty much the Spider-Man we know and love already. Next week, Doctor Octopus!