17/05/2022

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 Advance Review: Tombstone Looms Large in This Revitalized Flagship

Constant readers of The Amazing Spider-Man, whom I’ve counted myself among since “Brand New Day,” know all too well that this flagship title at Marvel Comics exists in a near constant state of flux. Its release schedule and collection of creators offer a neatly curated collection of eras that vary wildly in quality. Stalwart fans stick to it, much like their perpetual protagonist, while onlookers wait to hear if each new approach or era has some special spark. Sure, this time they’ve given the too-often overlooked Zeb Wells a platform that supports his appreciation for plotting intrigue and loving development of a sprawling cast. And they’ve brought back John Romita Jr., a part of any sane reader’s top-five list for Amazing Spider-Man artists, for another round. But does this new era of The Amazing Spider-Man really have the juice?

Let me tell you: The Amazing Spider-Man #1 absolutely has the juice.

(Photo: Marvel Comics)

This is a series that over its many iterations has thrived in the midst of chaos. Peter Parker’s life as melodrama is the beating heart of work from icons like Ditko, Buscema, and two generations of Romita. There is no hesitation to plunge Peter Parker back into the thick of it as soon as he’s back on his feet from a long hospital stay. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 provides readers a tour of a life in shambles: family, romance, career, vigilantism, the whole nine yards. It doesn’t drag its feet, though, and uses its hero’s idiosyncratic charm to combat the old Parker luck.

There’s bound to be many headlines focused on what exactly caused this cratering (quite literally, in the flashback images) of Peter Parker’s entire life. It’s clear that this series has a mystery and intends to tease it out. There are tremendously impactful images that beg for answers in the first and final pages of the issue. What makes The Amazing Spider-Man #1 a great comic book, though, is that it doesn’t need this underlying, long-term mystery box to deliver an incredibly satisfying reintroduction to Spider-Man’s ongoing adventures.

A review of Peter’s even messier than usual life offers an abundant number of hooks. A conversation with Aunt May provides some of the most jaw-dropping lines in the issue and whispers from an iconic villain offer plenty to discuss. However, it’s Tombstone who absolutely steals the issue from a competitively compelling cast of characters. In the wake of Devil’s Reign, New York City’s criminal underworld is in a state of reorganization and Lonnie Lincoln has taken a leading role in enforcing the rules of an underworld he thrives in. This issue provides him with a complete story arc unto himself that pushes him in Peter Parker’s direction to incredibly satisfying results and the promise of much more to come.

Tombstone has long sat on the backbench of Spider-Man villains in adapted media, but his comic book appearances will already have longtime readers interested. His rivalry with Robbie Robertson is deservedly legendary and the romance between their children makes it all the more drama-filled. It’s his presence as a crime boss that makes his already massive, ivory figure so imposing. The lines and their chilly delivery in word balloons evokes a clear voice for a Spider-Man villain seemingly seizing their full potential.

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Pitched purely as a new take on Spider-Man battling Manhattan’s underworld as led by Tombstone, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 would be a must-read for any fan of Spidey or Marvel’s street-level criminals. It’s punchy, fast-paced, filled with interwoven characters and inherent opportunities for drama. That is the central plot of this issue, but it comes spun with an abundance of subplots and one enormous mystery. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is the full package when it comes to Spider-Man comics and what’s best is that it promises the reader from its first to its final page that there’s a lot more of these stories to come. Zeb Wells, John Romita Jr., and the rest of the creative team have made Marvel Comics’ flagship title an exemplar of excellent superhero comics once again.

Published by Marvel Comics

On April 27, 2022

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by John Romita Jr. with Scott Hanna

Colors by Marcio Menyz

Letters by Joe Caramagna

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Cover by

John Romita Jr. Scott Hanna, and Marcio Menyz