It's been a long-time since a Marvel title has landed at the top of my "to be read" pile straight out of the fortnightly shipment from Paradox Comics.
But I had high hopes for Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1
I'd enjoyed the taster in Marvel's Free Comic Book Day offering this year (far more than its Secret Empire excerpt) , but the big question was: would it fill the Spidey-shaped hole in my pull-list (and my heart)?
The short answer is "no".
Before I get to the story itself, I want to address the comments made by editor Nick Lowe in his column for the issue, where he states that:
"...with a certain movie coming out next month am a new animated series later this year, we in the comic world wanted to make sure that newly excited Spider-Fans had an easy landing pad."This would be the blockbuster movie featuring a teenage Peter Parker at High School, right?
Which was exactly what the wonderful Spidey title was doing... before Marvel pulled the plug at the end of last year after only 12 issues.
The Peter Parker in this new comic - and the main Dan Slott-penned title - is a 28-year-old businessman, running the global Parker Industries, a company suit with more in common with Tony Stark than the character in the new movie and cartoon.
Marvel had a comic, a brilliant comic, telling new and wonderful tales of teenage Peter Parker.
Just like the movie. And the upcoming cartoon series.
And they killed it off.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man is a good comic, don't get me wrong. But it's playing it safe (even the "big revelation" at the end of the main story isn't exactly earth-shattering).
This first issue feels like a 'side adventure' from the main title; it has yet to establish its own identity (something Spidey did so brilliantly right out of the gate; no, I won't let it go...)
I'm not a particular fan of Chip Zdarsky's writing - his takes on Jughead and Howard The Duck did nothing for me (he's no Steve Gerber that's for sure) - so I picked this up enthusiastically because it was a new Spider-Man title, not because it was a new Chip Zdarsky title.
But I have to say, he has Peter's patter down just right. There's a lyrical rhythm to Zdarsky's dialogue here (and I like his references to previous adventures, manna for a continuity geek like myself, and back issue quests for new readers) , and some nice gags, that'll certainly bring me back for issue two.
I was looking for Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man to wow me. Instead, it simply served up a run-of-the-mill Spider-Man story (admittedly peppered with great humour) that I'll stick with out of loyalty to the character, and the hope that the story takes some clever and unexpected twists and turns down the line.