Filed under: Comic Reviews, Marvel Comics | Tags: Alpha, Dan Slott, Fantastic Four, Humberto Ramos, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, The Jackal
So Spider-man reaches that 50th Anniversary mark – an impressive achievement for a character that has become an icon for a number of generations…..but how would the latest issues fair in comparison to some of the epic stories we’ve seen over those 50 years.
Truth be known I’ve kind of dropped in and out of reading Spiderman in recent years as a whole world of Indie titles, a New 52 reboot and a surge of other quality titles from the likes of Image, IDW, Dynamite and more have grabbed my attention. Although I do seem to have read the last few story arcs from writer Dan Slott as he’s covered Spider-Island, through Ends of the Earth and the recently finished Lizard arc that coincidentally came out around about the time of the movie reboot hitting the big screen.
Where Spider-Island/Ends of the Earth felt like a real step into new territory while holding onto some of those big hitting villains that we know…..I felt that the Lizard arc saw a dip in my interest but a 50th Anniversary was always going to see me pick up some of these issues. The main arc from Slott was always going to be the real attraction but I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about what developed in this issue.
The introduction of new-hero-on-the-block, Alpha, seems to be a bit of an odd choice for issue #692 to include. Although the introduction resonates with Spider-Man’s own first appearance, with its virtual nobody main character, Andy Maguire, being transformed by a science experiment gone bad – this time at the hands of Peter Parker himself…..I just don’t know why this approach was taken. OK, we managed to steer clear from telling Spiderman’s origin for like the millionth time but for me this issue in particular had to have a selfish focus on the character named in its title.
That’s not to say that this wasn’t a fun read and that Slott was able to develop a good level of humour around Alpha’s first appearance and his fight alongside Spidey and the Fantastic Four – Reed giving him his name and The Thing giving him grief in much the same was as he does Johnny. While issue #692 introduces him, #693 builds on what the character is going to become, the reaction of his classmates and the world to his emergence and the Peter’s growing frustration at being tagged the sidekick in this duo, again allowing Slott to ease in some of that well-paced, well-timed humour and action mix.
While Alpha is still just a teenage geek turned SUPER the reality is that with great power comes ZERO responsibility as a celebrity life, all the fame and fortune (and girls) he could ever wants turns him into the very worst we could see in an emerging “superhero”. Playing up to the cameras, separating his life from his family and employing a lawyer to manage his rise to the top. Peter is left in the wake of these events and the run-in between him, Alpha and The Jackal almost seems pointless……lets not forget that part of the success in Spider-Island was the sinister edge that The Jackal gave to the story and the elaborate plot just kept me guessing until the end. To then see the same enemy appear and disappear in one issue seems a bit of a waste.
What changed here though, is that Peter takes on the full burden of the accident that change Andy into Alpha. He’s aiming to solve these problems and return Alpha from his highly dangerous standing to his geeky roots as Andy. Frustration has built up and Pete’s looking a little ruffled by Alpha’s approach to the Superhero business so I’ll stick with this until I see what plays out and what sort of build up we get heading to that #700.
I’d have much preferred Alpha to have been introduced in #693 and then see the problems develop from that issue on. As it stands, the 50th Anniversary of Spider-Man just seems to have been hijacked like your favourite action figure by the new kid in town. A real pity but again there is some quality elements in both these issues to entertain and amuse. The characterization is solid as ever, even if the story itself is hitting an issue too early for my liking. Let’s not forget that artist Humberto Ramos continues to breath new life into Spidey as well, moreso in his heroes and villains than anywhere else – which is a good thing for a superhero comic……although sometimes the strength of those backup characters can suffer as they fade into the highly energized and detailed work elsewhere.
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