Dan Slott must have been saving up his jokes over the past 16 months or so.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1, the issue that officially reintroduces Peter Parker to the Marvel Universe after a lengthy absence during which his body was under the control of Doctor Octopus, is chock full of laugh lines that really hit. Slott, artist Humberto Ramos, inker Victor Olazaba and colorist Edgar Delgado get the tone just right, but I couldn't help but feel that the story itself was a bit lacking in forward momentum, as the lingering effects of Superior Spider-Man dominated the issue's lead story.

When Superior Spider-Man wrapped up in issue #31 earlier this month, that issue, strangely enough, felt like it could have been called Amazing Spider-Man #1. It was transitional, and it quite frankly featured a lot more of Peter in the webs than it did Doc Ock. This issue feels similarly transitional. Ock is seemingly totally gone now, but what he did as Spider-Man casts a shadow over nearly every page and panel.

Of course, that's the nature of serialized storytelling. Events lead into other events, and characters deal with the repercussions. However, considering that this issue is intended, presumably, as a fresh start for new readers, possibly those enthused about Spider-Man because of the new The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, the level to which the events of Superior Spider-Man directly impact so much of what's going on here is a little curious. What we see here is a Peter Parker who is entirely reactive, who's still coming to terms with how a Doc Ock acting in his body has changed his world and how he's perceived in it. Several pages of this comic deal with the literal cleanup of what Doc Ock did. It's Superior #32 as much as it's Amazing #1.


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Even the cliffhanger here, which was teased somewhat in Superior #31, requires quite a bit of knowledge on the reader's part about what's come before. Sure, there's plenty of exposition and explanation to explain who this woman is in Peter Parker's apartment, and what her relationship to Doc Ock was, but I don't see it as a particularly effective hook for anyone who wasn't familiar with the Superior series.

As someone who read and liked Superior, that's totally fine by me. Part of the fun of Superior was seeing how Ock reacted to the weird ins-and-outs of Peter's life, and dealing with those situations in ways we'd never see Peter handle them. This simply turns the tables. But I can't shake the feeling that this comic is mislabeled. It quite simply, isn't a fresh start story-wise, and it lacks any real push away from the story that immediately preceded it.

As I mentioned, though, the art and the tone of the storytelling are more successful in terms of presenting readers a bold new direction, or at least a bold return to the classic Spider-Man style. The colors are bright and vibrant, and Ramos, who has always been a Spider-Man artist whose work I enjoy, portrays Peter Parker's New York as a place that's a little safer than the one Doc Ock occupied. Along with the ramped-up humor in the dialogue, it's got a wholly different feel, one I appreciate.


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What's interesting is that most of the forward momentum we see in this story comes in the backup stories. In particular, stories featuring Electro and Black Cat, both of which depict a pretty major event from different perspectives. (Both stories are co-written by Christos Gage, and they feature art by Javier Rodriguez and Giuseppe Camunicoli, respectively.) It seems like that event is really going to be the catalyst for the stories to come in future issues--and it's certainly no coincidence that Electro is a major part of it. So I wonder why that wasn't the heart of the story. Perhaps the explanation is simply that Spider-Man isn't directly involved in it yet, but it still feels odd that the stuff that's actually building to something new is in the backups.

As for the other backups, I really enjoyed the one titled "How My Stuff Works" by Joe Caramagna and Chris Eliopoulos, which puts a really funny, easygoing spin on the old-fashioned "let's explain what this character does again" piece that so many new number-one issues have to have. It feels a bit out of place in this comic that assumes some serious foreknowledge from readers, but I'd to give that story by itself to a kid and come away assured he or she would be entertained and know Spider-Man's deal.


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The other backups, a Spider-Man 2099 story by Peter David and Will Sliney, a Scarlet Spider story by Chris Yost and David Baldeon, and a lead-in to Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 by Slott and Ramon Perez, are all teases for upcoming comics, and they read like them, though I do have to admit that the Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 tease intrigued me about the Marvels-style approach that book seems to be taking to Spider-Man's origin. Perez's art is also stunning.

Clearly, Marvel has high hopes for this book, because not only is it teasing three Spider-Man tie-ins with backup stories, it's also including the first issue of Charles Soule and Joe Madureira's Inhuman in the back matter to drum up enthusiasm for that series. I'm sure it'll sell well. And as someone who's been reading the Spider-Man books regularly, I thought it was a fun read. I just don't know how much someone picking it up after a break from the book will get from it, though.


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