Review by Frank Plowright
Marvel’s 2015 re-boot saw Dan Slott take what was in many ways a very logical approach to Peter Parker and Spider-Man. It’s long been posited that were Parker to patent and licence the equipment he’s developed for Spider-Man, most importantly the web-fluid, then the commercial applications would ensure a personal fortune. Since his earliest days writing Spider-Man (in Big Time) Slott has focussed on Parker’s developmental skills, and following on from the Superior Spider-Man series, Parker Industries is now a global concern. While this may be logical in terms of Peter Parker, it ignores that Marvel already publishes the adventures of a billionaire industrialist who doubles as a superhero.
The purpose of the re-boot was to supply some creative freedom without being locked into years of continuity, and to shock with the new. What we have is the same idealistic Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but now taking a more focussed approach and broadening his sphere of influence. Slott raises the poor man’s Tony Stark question early, but never entirely deals with it. His snappy dialogue for Spider-Man continues a tradition, but since the movies it’s been adopted by Stark, while the ecological soundbites and absolute technological confidence also echo him. So does the idea of franchising the superhero costume, having a superhero bodyguard, developing technology for S.H.I.E.L.D…
If this is of little concern, or if you’ve never read Spider-Man previously, then Slott’s constructed a fast-paced mystery with several reverential nods to the days of yesteryear and the inclusion of once forgotten supporting characters. He even references his own recent past with a neat sub-plot yet to come to fruition. There are some new allies, some old friends and the reworking of a slightly hokey criminal cartel. And just as previously, Christos Gage steps in to spot the dialogue on occasion.
Giuseppe Camuncoli has long been a very good Spider-Man artist. It’s a shame it doesn’t earn him the correct spelling of his name on the cover of the UK edition. He brings the character to life in both identities, even if his Spider-Man is a little on the angular side, and there’s one hell of a lot of movement to his action scenes. Surely no-one would have ever believed a dire concept like the Spider-Mobile could not only be resurrected, but actually look cool. For the time being it does.
The back pages include some teasers for new Silk and Spider-Woman series, a comedy Peter Parker and the introduction of a new villain who we’ll see more of in Worldwide: Scorpio Rising. By various creative teams, they serve a purpose, but it’s the main course that matters.
For all the lack of background originality, the thing about Slott on Spider-Man is that he’s been so good for so long that he’s earned some trust. He plots for the long term, escalates situations to the point of risk and has consistently surprised. Leave him with his Iron Man joke and see what happens.