Review by Frank Plowright
Big Time is the slim four chapter opening collection of Dan Slott’s work as regular writer of Amazing Spider-Man, the first continuing scripter on the series since J. Michael Straczynski’s era-defining run. Slott’s contributions to intervening stories had been consistently inventive, quirky, and memorable beyond that of other writers, and that’s the way he continued overall.
He wastes no time stamping his imprint on Spider-Man. Slott’s take is that the character has spent too long as a sad sack dogged by tragedy and it’s time his intelligence, adaptability and personable nature paid off with an upturn in fortunes. Spider-Man had been redeemed by association with the Avengers, and it was now time for Peter Parker to follow suit. First, he toys with readers by dangling Mary Jane. She, though, isn’t involved with the upswing, which comes with Parker’s employment at the most laid back and forward thinking company in New York. It’s run by tech genius Max Modell, endearingly designed by artist Humberto Ramos as a grossly overweight hippy in a Hawaiian shirt.
For all that, though, it’s Ramos who’s very much the problem here. He’s a divisive artist whose distinctive cartoon style didn’t fit when he previously worked on the character, despite his Spider-Man now being very much based on originator Steve Ditko’s slim and athletic version. The big eyes and angular features of his characters are too exaggerated, and those whose mouths are open are invariably gritting their teeth. As are many readers.
Slott’s new supporting cast are well conceived, and the story finds room for the Hobgoblin, the Kingpin and a cheesecake Black Cat and even introduces a new costume. Your tolerance, though, will rest on the appeal of Ramos’ art.