WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #1
This week saw the release of Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s first issue of Amazing Spider-Man since Dan Slott left the title after a decade of stories. Spencer’s new adventures with Peter start, interestingly enough, back where Slott first came on board the series as well. Not chronologically, but with the feeling that this series is set to upend Peter Parker’s status quo much like Slott did with Brand New Day, which followed the world-shattering events of One More Day. That’s a lot of different days, so let’s crack open the history books before we get into the new series.
Following the events of Marvel’s Civil War, Spider-Man was left on the run with his beloved Aunt May and MJ Watson-Parker, who at the time had been his wife for years. Unfortunately, Aunt May was shot and near death, which caused a broken Peter Parker to make a deal with the devil (Mephisto) in order to save Aunt May’s life. The cost? Peter and MJ’s marriage. One More Day effectively undid years of Peter and MJ’s relationship, changing many facets of Spidey’s mythology and offering Peter and his fans a Brand New Day. With Peter now single, writers (including Slott) were free to take Spider-Man in new directions, though it cost us MJ Parker.
Sure, Mary Jane Watson still showed up regularly in both Spider-Man and Iron Man’s ongoing series, but things weren’t quite the same. Parker would never be the same, and neither would the fans. And apparently, neither was Nick Spencer, who revealed in the opening pages of his first issue that Peter also dreams of the one who got away. Amazing Spider-Man #1 is beautifully drawn by Ryan Ottley, who fans might recognize from his work on Image Comics’ Invincible with Robert Kirman. His debut issue featured Spider-Man and the various members of the Marvel Universe dealing with an apparent alien invasion, which allowed Ottely the chance to flex his Marvel muscles with a nice selection of characters as we see how the Marvel U. feels about Spidey currently.
It’s a dramatic change from the superheroic Spider-Man we had seen near the end of Slott’s run before the Parker Luck intruded and he became his own worst enemy again. Following the Kingpin’s attempt to give Spider-Man the key to the city which would distance him from the rest of the heroes currently being attacked by Mayor Fisk, Spidey seems to be unwelcome among his former friends like Daredevil and Human Torch. Even when he saves the day, his victory is tainted by the fact that the true source of the alien invasion is his old enemy Mysterio.
Peter Parker’s life isn’t faring much better, as he is forced to again room with Randy Robertson, a long-time friend of Peter’s and son of Daily Bugle publisher Robbie Robertson. Unfortunately, the duo has a third renter in the form of Fred Myers AKA Boomerang. And wouldn’t you know it, the two-timing thief with low-to-no morals is also a terrible roommate. Of course, that isn’t the only misfortune Peter has to deal with, as a new program has been created at Empire State University to help track fraudulent and plagiarized work from students. The new program – cleverly named Watchr – picks out a paper written by Peter Parker, an ESU alum who is now the editor of the Daily Bugle science section. A paper that Watchr revealed to be written by Otto Octavius, which results in the loss of Parker’s job at the Bugle and the revocation of his doctorate.
Fans will remember that Octavius AKA Doctor Octopus had previously taken over the body of Peter Parker as the Superior Spider-Man. During that period of time, he went back to ESU and finished Parker’s doctorate before starting Parker Industries, proving himself to be the Superior Peter Parker for a time, as well. Peter obviously can’t reveal this information, and his life returns to the spiral that is classic Spider-Man. This is felt most deeply during Aunt May’s discovery of Peter’s alleged plagiarism, which when piled on top of the former problems with his company and the damage his actions caused to the Uncle Ben Foundation, have pushed May past the point of forgiveness.
Not all is lost, as we circle back to the One New Day/Brand New Day connection. This latest run of setbacks has made Peter realize that while he didn’t feel he was doing anything wrong, he also wasn’t doing things right. And he hadn’t been doing things right since MJ left his life. He hesitatingly admits this to MJ, who kisses him and promises that they are in this thing together, and they always have been. And just like that, it feels like Spider-Man is coming back around to where he was 10-15 years ago, despite the multitude of changes he experienced over Slott’s run. His fortune is gone, his company is gone, his life is in shambles, his good name is ruined, and his Aunt May – the impetus for his deal with the devil – is left disheartened by her nephew. But at least he has MJ, and we couldn’t be more excited to see the two trying to work things out as the Parker Luck rears its ugly head again.
The difference is this time it’s the re-introduction of MJ into his personal life that opens up the story possibilities, which is Another Brand New Day that maybe feels more like the Same Old Day, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Peter is going to need the support of MJ in his life as the rest of the issue reveals a new (or old?) threat for Spider-Man to face.
This hellish creature is unknown to us, but well known to Mysterio, who actually has a darker story than one would expect from a guy with the fishbowl on his head. Following Quentin Beck’s suicide after his manipulation of Daredevil’s life (Daredevil: Guardian Devil), Mysterio made his own deal with the devil to return from hell. This new character reveals he is the one who walked Quentin out of hell, and he knows Peter’s secrets and is clearly set on making Spider-Man’s life miserable. He also hired high-priced lawyer Janice Lincoln AKA Beetle to get Quentin off for his crimes earlier in the issue, proving this new villain has his hands in all sorts of cookie jars, which is sure to be bad news for Spider-Man.
Oh, and one final twist is revealed. As Parker meets with ESU’s Cindy Lawton to learn about the revocation of his doctorate, he also soon learns that he might be getting another chance to rightfully earn his doctorate. This second chance comes from an interesting place – The Lizard, who is teaching a class at ESU. This version of the Lizard is actually Curt Connors in charge of the Lizard body, though that seems to change quicker than the weather. This first issue set the course for the new series from Spencer and Ottley and was a joy to read, despite watching Parker’s life fall apart yet again. But MJ’s back, so you know life is gonna get better.
“Go get ’em, tiger.”
Images: Marvel Comics