All Amazing – The Amazing Spider-Man #2: Review

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…

The Amazing Spider-Man Issue 2As 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.Spider-Man Vulture sewers

 

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.

Amazing spider-Man issue 2 Tinkerer

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.

Issue 2 escape from aliens

Final Thoughts

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!

All Amazing – The Amazing Spider-Man #1: Review

This is a new series where I read and review every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, starting way back with issue 1 in 1963!


I love Spider-Man. Ever since the 90s Animated Series, he’s been one of my favourite characters in jam packed Superhero genre. It was through Spidey that I started to really get into comics when Ultimate Spider-Man hit the shelves, and Spider-Man 2099 was my first experience diving into comics from the archives. Now I’m setting off on a project I’ve wanted to do for a really long time; I’m going to read all of The Amazing Spider-Man, from the very first issue in 1963. This won’t give me the whole story as Marvel launched, The Spectacular Spider-Man, in 1972, but I’m going to focus on just one except when the story requires picking up a few issues elsewhere.

So, let’s get started!

The Amazing Spider-Man #1

Comic buffs will know that this issue is not the first appearance of our beloved Wall Crawler, who launched in the final issue of Amazing Fantasy a few months earlier. While his success hadn’t been enough to save that book, Marvel did have enough faith in the character to give him a series of his own. Amazing #1 begins with a short recap of this origin, before fleshing out who Peter Parker is, and what his story is really about. The cover promises us a hero like no other, and it’s true… while this issue does give us a a classic villain, and a crossover with The Fantastic Four, really this is all about Parker’s money troubles.

Amazing Spider-Man 1It’s split into two stories, the first explores the birth of Spider-Man’s troubles with the press. To help Aunt May pay the bills he agrees to do a live show as Spider-Man, but has a little trouble getting paid. In one great little scene, he insists the promoter write him a cheque made out to “Spider-Man” and is then shocked when the bank won’t cash it. They say Peter Parker is a genius but I suppose everyone has their off days.

He returns the next day to find that Newspaper Editor named J Jonah Jamesonhas been trashing him all over town. Weirdly, Jameson doesn’t seem to think Spider-Man is a criminal at this point, he seems more concerned that kids might copy him and hurt themselves. This is apparently enough to send the city into an Anti-Spidey frenzy and he has to find money elsewhere. Even after he rescues Jameson’s son from certain death in a failed rocket launch, Jameson doesn’t seem interested in cutting Spidey a break. Some things never change.

The other story is the famous crossover from the cover, Spider-Man’s meeting with The Fantastic Four. This is a beat briefer than the cover implies, with the Richards clan basically shipped in to add a bit of credibility to the new character. Spider-Man invades their tower and promptly humiliates them all, insists on joining the Fantastic Four so he can get paid, and when they tell him they’re a non-profit organisation, leaves without even apologising for roughing them up. If you think Spider-Man seems a bit money hungry, later he meets The Chameleon who has deduced that Spider-Man must be hard up for cash, lures him into a really obvious trap by promising him some sweet green, and then frames him for espionage. Early Spider-Man is blinded by the kerching.

Amazing #1 is both refreshing, and bizarre. It’s actually nice to see Spider-Man so completely rendered on the page right from the first issue. Here’s a teenage boy with a life, problems, and all these responsibilities that weigh heavily on him. The kid really can’t catch a break, and he wonders exactly why he’s so different to all those other heroes who just live the easy life. The problem is that his humour isn’t quite there yet. That constant, charming, geeky sense of humour we associate with Spider-Man is nowhere to be seen in this issue, and so Spider-Man just comes off as sort of grumpy. Even the sight of Aunt May pawning in the bling isn’t enough to stop Spidey seeming a bit mercenary at times, and yet it’s so charming. It’s early days yet, but here Spider-Man reads more like a funny book than an action comic, and yet it works. The character and the series will grow from here, but it’s so close already.

The art is a little rough around the edges, it obviously comes from the cheap years, but it’s also pretty impressive how final Spidey’s design is here. The whole look is basically complete, with only the retro armpit webs looking a bit out of place. Parker doesn’t look so much like we’ll come to know him, but everything else is so solid. It’s a great start to a book that’s going to do so well from Marvel in the years to come. It’s hard not to read it with a bit of a cheeky grin about it all.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Amazing Spider-Man issue 1Uncle Ben’s death doesn’t quite play out as you’d expect. Here, there’s no indication he’s killed by a burglar Peter failed to stop earlier in the day. Peter just seems to blame himself for being too busy at the time. It doesn’t really work as a story, but they’ll really nail it down later.

No love interest. For a comic that was almost like a classic romance book during the late 60s, there’s no Felicia, no Gwen, no MJ. It’s weird to think of Peter Parker without romance, without family. It seems like such a big part of his character these days.

Spider-Man beats the entire Fantastic Four in his first solo issue. There’s lending credibility and then there’s humiliating your flagship characters.

In Conclusion

Amazing #1 is a lot of fun, the character’s almost fully formed right here, and the world Stan Lee is building won’t change much well into the 90s. Still, it’s a little weird to see Peter talking less about Power and Responsibility and more about those delicious, delicious Benjamins.