Grumpy Bird Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man v4 #1

Everyone loves Spider-Man! Or at least they should. And since volume 3 of the Amazing Spider-Man was largely forgettable perhaps it’s a good thing that there is a brand new volume starting off. Maybe?
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inker: Cam Smith

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Publisher: Marvel

Quick Review: Marvel has leapt forward in time to show us the new status quo of Spidey. The issue repeatedly hangs the lampshade of “poor man’s Iron Man” on Peter in an effort to let us know they know what the internet thinks. Usually this type of lampshading can put the audience at ease by expressing what we are all thinking. I’m not sure if it works here because rather than nulling those fears it almost seems to be codifying them. Parker does seem to be a cobbled together version of many of the popular Iron Man stories from the past few decades. Globe trotting tech genius? Superhero body guard that is secretly himself? Super body double (who happens to be black)? Ladies man likelihood? Works with SHIELD? All of these are getting checks. I imagine extremis isn’t here due to Spidey’s symbiotes, but maybe that will come. All that said, it does still feel like Parker, as long as you ignore all the aspects that feel like Iron Man meets James Bond. In the end this is a number 1 with lots of potential for fun stories. It plays up the new setting and style. It could be great introduction to a great run. But as a single issue it feels largely forgettable.

Analysis: Yep, it could be a great start but a forgettable issue. How? Because of the leap forward in time none of these new elements were able to build organically. We are told, not shown per se, that PArker Industries is revived and that Parker has made the best smart watch ever. That he has mended friendships with those who Spider-Ock betrayed. Basically, all the fall out of his being Superior, that was passed over in the last volume in favor of Silk and Spider-Verse was handled in the time gaps we are not shown. I’ll be honest that to me this feels like a cheat. It doesn’t kill the issue or anything, but it does feel like a cheat.

As does all the new little changes to Pete. He can drive. He can speak a (or more) new languages. The option of having money is ever present. None of these are in itself a problem but all of them are so generic I do fear that there will be a blandification of the character along the lines of Wolverine. Wolverine used to be great, but then he began to excel at everything, know everyone and be able to do anything. Anything that made him unique slipped away in order to allow him to do everything. This hasn’t happened yet to Parker, but this is one step closer to Spidey-wolver-bat-man.

Since this issue serves to set up the new world there isn’t much of a plot to speak of. Zodiac wants things for reasons. Well, they want Parker’s smart watch because it has data in it. Or something. Again, this isn’t really a plot issue. It is a meet the world and those who live there issue and it achieves that goal rather nicely. It feels very new reader friendly and gives enough background on existing concepts so that new readers can just slide in while longtime readers can hear the new status quo of everyone. 

The art is fantastic. Camuncoli continues to grow both as an artist in general and as a Spidey artist. There were a few panels that made me wonder about proportions (big heads), but there was strong storytelling and compelling action. Times like this made me wish I was better at discussing colors, because I really liked everything that Gracia did with the page. Everything was so colorful in a way that made it look more realistic instead of stylized, even when people were bathed in blues and pinks. Gracia’s colors truly enhance the art in all the best ways.

Except one, but I don’t think this is Gracia’s fault. I dislike the glowing green spider as a chest emblem. Every time I look at it I think Spidey is emitting radiation. Just no.

Wrap Up: A fun first issue with lots of adventure hooks, but doesn’t fill me with confidence as to where the story is going. The take away for me is that Parker is the poor man’s Stark, but that it will take me a few more issues to decide if that helps or hurts the story. Plus, it makes me want to read the new Iron Man comic to see if he now the rich man’s Parker. And maybe that is the point.

(As the back up features basically serve as adds for other series I did not include them in my review.)

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