We all know Spider-Man, right? He’s a guy from Queens named Peter Parker, who got bitten by a radioactive spider and became CEO of a multimillion dollar company. He owns a car that can drive upside down, too. Yep, good ol’ Spidey.
A few months ago, Marvel announced a new direction for their flagship character. Peter Parker had already risen from his roots as a struggling-to-make-ends-meet, hard luck hero. Aunt May’s favourite nephew had become an entrepreneur in recent years and worked as the head of cutting-edge tech firm Parker Industries. The new direction would send Parker around the world, with adventures that wouldn’t be limited to just New York City anymore. Spider-Man would be the company’s mascot and the public would be told that the wall-crawler is Parker’s bodyguard. Some fans scoffed that these changes would make the character a weak mimic of Iron Man, robbing Spidey of the everyman charm that’s made him a favourite. Thankfully, they don’t.
Today’s first issue of the new Amazing Spider-Man comic — written by Dan Slott with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and Marte Gracia — marks the debut of this new era. So far, the decisions to shift Spidey into a different gear are all working well. Part of the conceit of Marvel’s line-wide relaunch of their superhero comics is that eight months have passed since readers last saw these characters but Peter’s ascendance into the upper echelons of global technological innovation is a continuation of already ongoing plotlines. Writer Dan Slott has steered Peter Parker through a long cycle of personal growth over the last few years and, though it’s presented on its face as a new start, Amazing Spider-Man #1 feels like the crescendo of previous Spidey storylines.
There’s a moment in this first issue where it looks like Peter is going to react like he used to. He’s just danced with an attractive co-worker and it seems as if he’s going to work up the courage to ask her out.
That’s not what happens. You can hear the steel in his voice in the sequence above. This is what it looks like when Peter Parker acts like a grown-arse man.
Several sequences show that Slott anticipated some of the critiques he’d be getting. To his credit, he makes it clear where Peter’s worldview differs from that of Tony Stark.
The fancy new highlighted costume, upgraded webshooters, Parker Industries’ contract to provide S.H.I.E.L.D. with tech, hiring a hero friend to also be a secondary Spidey… all of those status quo changes provide new sparks for longtime readers. They also buttress the character work that’s gone into Peter over Slott’s tenure. Suddenly, the banter that’s been part of the character’s DNA feels different. This isn’t a guy who’s masking his nerves or fear. This is a man who’s talking trash because he knows he can take his enemies down.
Marvel had an infamous moment years ago where they backed away from letting Spider-Man grow up.This Peter Parker comes across as someone who’s overcome serious challenge and has a fuller sense of himself. He’s a better man, which should consequently make him a better hero. He’s taking on more power and responsibility, just like Uncle Ben taught him. ‘Bout damn time.