Okay… so depending on what you read or know of history, August may or may not be the actual release date of the classic ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15 (featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man). Sure… the book’s cover says August and some comic historians say that the actual date was August 10th, 1962 but, as any comic reader will tell you, comics often were released before their cover month so ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15 was more than likely released in July of 1962. Either way, Marvel has chosen August as the month for their official 50th anniversary double-sized issue and here it is! And what’s inside is sure to make comic history geeks like myself ignore the fact that, technically, this probably should’ve been released last month. Okay… so mostly forget it… I’m a stickler for that kind of thing. But I digress. Let’s get back to the book review at hand since that’s what you’re here for.
When ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #691 wrapped with the reappearance of the original Hobgoblin, I got uber-excited for what was coming next. I’d forgotten that this was the much-lauded “sidekick” issue so I’m sure we’ll get back to Hobby next month. But for now, we get… Alpha!
Actually, this issue is broken down into three distinct stories (technically four if you count the 1-page recounting of Spidey’s origin on the first page). But the first real story is by Dan Slott and introduces us to Andy Maguire (a sure nod to Toby Maguire who played the wall-crawler in the last trilogy of Spidey flicks). Andy is a kid at Midtown High (that’s Peter Parker’s alma mater in case anyone missed the obvious). But, unlike Peter, Andy isn’t a nerd. In fact, Andy isn’t much of anything. He skates by with average grades, his parents pretty much ignore him, and even the bullies don’t take notice of him. That all changes when Andy forges his dad’s signature on a permission slip and takes a field trip to Horizon Labs.
At Horizon, Peter Parker is unveiling to the world his discovery of “Parker particles”, a source of unlimited energy. When things go wrong with the machinery, Andy is caught in a blast of these particles and given super-human abilities. I won’t ruin what happens next, but Andy takes to his newfound powers and acts exactly how you’d expect a nobody to act if they suddenly became a popular hero. Feeling responsible for Andy’s accident, Spidey takes it upon himself to keep a silent watch over the super-kid. When Spidey sees Andy abusing both his newfound powers and popularity, he pulls Andy under his wing as his new sidekick… or is that the other way around? Either way, it looks like Peter’s life is about to change in a big way with Andy’s introduction!
The second tale is titled “Spider-Man for a Night” and takes place just after Peter Parker ditched the Spidey suit way back in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #50 (1967). A crook fleeing from a robbery finds the Spider-Man suit in the garbage and snags it to escape his police tail. After getting away from the cops, the Spider-suited criminal attempts to rob a pawn shop. As the story moves along, the motivations of the crook become clear and he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. Then, in a beautiful finale we’re shown that even when he’s “Spider Man No More”, our hero can still inspire change in people.
The third and final tale is called “Just Right” and follows Spidey on a day when it seems like the infamous Parker luck is kick into overdrive. It all begins with Peter waking up late on the date of a big presentation at Horizon Labs… and it all goes down hill from there. However, by the end of the story, we’re shown how Spider-Man is still just a good guy beneath the mask and that no amount of bad-luck is going to change that.
Wow! When we switched to the new “out of 5” atom scoring system for comics last week, I thought “I’ll never give a comic a five. It has to be perfect.” Well, color me wrong because here it is! A week into the new system and ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #692 has earned my first perfect five score! The introduction to Alpha was sheer perfection (as if I expect anything less from Dan Slott at this point). I can’t wait to see more of this kid. The other two tales had great writing and some awesome art!
The issue took a look at Spider-Man’s past, present, and future and gave both old-time fans (like myself) and new fans something to enjoy. (I grinned like a kid when I saw that the third story even used the classic trope of the cool names for the creators from the Bullpen like “Jumpin’ Joshua Hale Fialkov” and “Nigh-Invulnerable Nuno Plati”.) If you’re a fan of Spider-Man at all, you owe it to yourself to run out and pick up this issue. It’s definitely worthy of my favorite web-head’s 50th anniversary!
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692
Story by Dan Slott, Dean Haspiel, & Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Dean Haspiel, & Nuno Plati
Cover by Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado, & Marcos Martin