Amazing Friends has a clever cover, one with everything there, but designed not to draw attention, and if attention is drawn the thought is that it’s just a homage to the 1970s animated show with Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman. Inside Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen’s story lives up to the cover, and it’s rather sweet. Then Bendis does tend to follow tragedy with something lighter all the way through Ultimate Spider-Man, and Death of a Goblin was certainly tragic.

Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde already go to the same high school and the Human Torch did briefly in Superstars, where he developed an immediate liking for Liz Allen. Part of Kitty’s reason for ending up there and with Spider-Man had been a row with Iceman, who also duly turns up, and while it briefly seems as if it’s going to lead to a major stramash on school premises, Bendis heads in a different direction. Down to the beach in fact. What happens there leads to Magneto turning up, some unpalatable revelations, and the X-Men becoming involved as well. It’s thoughtful, charming and well drawn.

The two remaining chapters return two villains that Spider-Man’s not taken seriously in the past, both looking for revenge and the consequent restored reputations. In Silver Sable, Spider-Man dealing with Omega Red was just a stopover on the way to settling other matters, and while the Shocker’s well capable of making a fool of himself, it’s always nice seeing Spider-Man helping with that. This tends to happen when Bendis needs a quick action scene with Spider-Man. Neither of these tales is anywhere near the greatest of the run. The Omega Red story is at least nicely twisted around Peter’s flunked school assignment, but while making the Shocker more dangerous leads to some neat scenes with Mary Jane and Kitty, attempting to bestow some credibility after all this time really is a non-starter of an idea. Plus there’s a fair chance readers will figure out how Spider-Man’s going to escape.

Still, that’s only two chapters from the five supplied, and there are good moments to both. It’s not as if Ultimate Spider-Man is running out of steam after twenty volumes. War of the Symbiotes is next.