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'Amazing Spider-Man' #1 (802) is a Muddled Mess

Spider-Man is one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time. Lord knows he’s been through the wringer on countless occasions. This latest turn feels disjointed. Let’s look at why. [Spoilers below.]

The chapter is written by Nick Spencer, the mastermind behind one of Marvel’s most hated controversial events, Secret Empire.


Spencer’s taken some liberties. Peter Parker suddenly has two roommates: Randy Robertson (Son of Robbie) and Boomerang. For reasons.

Spidey’s lost the goodwill of his fellow superheroes in a vague move orchestrated by Mayor Kingpin. I say vague because we have absolutely no idea what he did, how he’s done it, or why in god’s name any hero in town would buy it— whatever ‘it’ is.

It doesn’t stop there. Parker’s graduate degree, earned by Doctor Octopus during his turn as the Superior Spider-Man, is invalidated through claims of plagiarism on Doc Ock’s work. Again. So now everyone thinks Peter is a fraud because of a dilemma that was already solved and put to bed two or three years ago.

And by everyone, I mean everyone. Including Aunt May. The one person who’s always stood by her nephew through thick and thin— from hard financial times to corporate disaster— has given up on her only living relative. (To Nick Spencer’s credit, abrupt and unpleasant changes to beloved characters are his specialty.)


The pencils have been taken over by Ryan Ottley of Invincible fame. I admit I’ve been curious to see what his line work would look like in a Marvel comic. His version of Kingpin appears to be wearing a bib of some kind, or possibly a turtleneck with French cuffs? Your guess is as good as mine.


The rest of the issue plays to Ottley’s strengths: alien invasions and redheads. His rendition of Mary-Jane and Invincible’s Atom Eve look exactly alike; also identical are the invading creatures and the infamous headcrabs from Valve’s Half-Life. No, really.


The alien invasion turns out to have been a ploy by none other than Mysterio. That’s right, it was all an illusion! Somehow, the special effects wizard whipped up at least 14,984 knockoff headcrabs to attack Manhattan. (Vision counted them.) Never mind that the attack makes no sense at all, Mysterio hangs a lampshade on the fact that he’s acting differently than usual. Again, it’s Nick Spencer.

We have one more big surprise:


Peter and MJ are together again. For reasons!

ASM #1 (802) looks like your average Spider-Man comic. Parker’s life is in the toilet financially and professionally, he can’t seem to do anything right. There’s action and thwipping and apparently even romance. Much like Mysterio’s work, however, it all feels like imitation.


The problem is that none of this was earned. We don’t see how any of this developed or changed from the way things were going just last month. Everything’s just different for the sake of being different.

Spider-Man has been around for decades. He’s had every kind of adventure imaginable, and keeps coming back for more. This latest chapter just makes me want to re-read Dan Slott’s or J Michael Straczynski’s Spidey stories. There’s nothing new here worth sticking around for.

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