I’ve been doing alright at keeping up with my comic backlog lately. In some cases that means I’m now less than a year behind the rest of the world. Incredible, I know. In the run up to Spider-Man launching on PS4, I was making a more concerted effort to keep up with the various Spider-Family books on my pull list. Since the game finally launched last week and has been pretty well received, it seems likely that a few of you might want to check out the books behind the man.
Marvel’s mainline Spidey title, The Amazing Spider-Man, has recently undergone a fresh start of its own. For anyone wanting to jump in that’s probably a pretty safe starting point. I wouldn’t know. I’m still too far behind to give it an honest vetting. However, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, is a title I’ve finally managed to catch up on. Just in time for it to end in a couple of months. Nevermind that though, it just means it’s self contained, and if you want something to fit the tone of the game it’ll put you right in your comfort zone.
Wealth and Fame, He’s Ignored
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man is the smaller sibling title to Amazing. While things were getting pretty wild in the latter, Spectacular took Spidey back to basics. It was all about slinging web and saving people on the streets of New York. That said, it does manage to bring up some of the weirder tidbits of Spider-Man history. Like that time Peter had a sister, named Teresa Parker. It’s fine though, don’t worry about those things. I guarantee that prior reading is not necessary to fully enjoy Spectacular Spider-Man. Rather than focus on years of weird history, it makes the book all about the heart of the story and cracking a few quips.
Actually, maybe reverse that; it’s all about the quips and jokes, but with a good heart buried underneath. Chip Zdarsky is on writing duty for Spectacular, and when I saw his name on the title I took a sharp intake of breath. If you’ve had any contact with Sex Criminals, the title he works on with Matt Fraction, you’ll know why. It was going to be interesting to see how he adapted that humour to something more family-friendly. Having read most of the series now, I can safely say he manages it magnificently, getting more laughs with clean humour than many other books can get with access to everything in the kitchen sink.
Jordie Bellaire and Adam Kubert‘s art matches up perfectly with the tone of the writing. Bellaire’s bright colours really sell the idea that this is a lighter, more happy-go-lucky Spider-Man. By comparison, Amazing at the same time had more night time scenes than the average Batman issue. Not that there’s anything wrong with darkness. Amazing is still a gorgeous book. It’s just that seeing the old red ‘n’ blue tights in the light of day is refreshing.
Kubert‘s dynamic art and cartoony expressions match Chip’s writing extremely well. So well in fact, that if the names weren’t there, I might have assumed they were done by the same person. Granted, Chip does take on some art duty himself, so that is likely a fator. Outside of his character models, the detailed backdrops of the New York city scape really help to ground the book. They’re always there as a constant reminder that Spidey is back doing what Spider does best; being a Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man!
Comics! I Want Comics About Spider-Man!
Peter Parker: The Amazing Spider-Man was such a breath of fresh air.
This makes it all the more disappointing that it’s ending. Scratch that. I’ve just now learned that it’s not getting canned. It’s just that the creative team is changing. It’s still sad to know Chip is leaving after having gotten the book off to such a great start, but it’s better than nothing. The new guys, whoever they are, have some big Garfield onesies to fill. I sure hope they’re up to the task. Amid a sea of Spider-Books, Spectacular is a very special banana-boat, kept separate from the world of events and crossovers. Not only is it easy for new readers to get into without knowing years of impenetrable history, it has its own special Chippy way of casting light on some of Spidey’s weirder moments, they types of stuff we aren’t likely to see being brought up in a game or movie any time soon.