While audiences continue to watch Peter try to get a grip on the world and his role as Spider-Man, it is clear that Dan Slott’s grip on Peter’s world is stronger than ever. For all of my complaints about the rushed and messy plotting of the end of Superior Spider-Man the exact opposite has been on display in Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man. Like the issue prior, Amazing Spider-Man #2 features several intersecting storylines with a myriad of characters but also manages to give each one enough time to develop and stick their dramatic landing.
While Dan Slott teases readers with the introduction of Silk, the woman who apparently was bitten by Peter’s radioactive spider, the real heart of Amazing Spider-Man #2 is Peter’s evolving relationship with Anna Maria. After last issue’s revelation that Anna Maria knows about Peter’s moonlighting career as Spider-Man, Peter found himself in an incredibly awkward and potentially destructive position. The resolution here is refreshing, honest, and feels like a conversation straight out of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man series. Slott’s depiction of Anna Maria continues to showcase why she’s the best new character this book has had in years. She’s a layered and emotionally translucent character that operates as a wonderful foil to Peter. Slott would do well to keep her around for as long as possible.
Slott’s use of language and speech patterns are amongst the most nuanced he’s ever displayed. Between this book and Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl it’s refreshing to see how much stock Slott has put back into the inherent drama between his non-costumed characters, especially after the action-packed stories found in Superior Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man is the best superhero story when it focuses on Peter Parker and how his life is sidelined by his responsibilities and its nice to see that relationship take front and center here.
Amazing Spider-Man #2 certainly throws a number of responsibilities at Peter, just as he’s slowly putting the pieces of his life together. The overpowered Electro, briefly resembling his movie counter-part, stalks the streets and seeks out refuge from a supervillian groupie friend of his. When an unforeseen tragedy sets him off, its up to Spider-Man to save the day. The action here is fun but not particularly dramatic and the ending feels forced, but it sets up the stage for future entanglements between the two.
After arousing the Avengers suspicions last issue, Peter is called in again for testing (haven’t we already done this?) to see just what is going on in his mind. The Avengers are appropriately apprehensive and suspicious (finally!!) of Peter’s answers and motivations, but Slott plays it for some solid comedy between the mismatched personalities. Still, it’s a bit disheartening that after all the time that the Avengers questioned Otto that there aren’t more ramifications for Peter. This sequence and a late appearance by the Human Torch allow for an interesting conversation between characters about returning after their “deaths” to find a world that isn’t the same as the one they left. Its an interesting piece of meta-narrative that works as both a commentary on death in the Marvel universe and as a plot beat without being too glib or dismissive of the overused comic book trope.
The events of this comic aren’t exactly groundbreaking or incredibly dramatic but they are handled near perfectly by Dan Slott. The book wouldn’t be quite nearly as engaging or dynamic without the pencils from Humberto Ramos, colors of Edgar Delgado, and inks from Victor Olazaba. This visual creative team is one of the best in comics and really showcases comic book artists at the top of their game. Ramos’ layouts guide the eye through the pages in a way that maximizes the art of the entire team. Amazing Spider-Man #2 features a number of dialogue scenes and Ramos really nails the exact emotions necessary to make them come to life. When Electro’s overcharged powers burst into the comic his panels open up and his style becomes more frantic while Delgado’s colors burst with saturation. It’d be difficult to list art teams in all of Spider-Man’s history as in-sync and talented as the one on display here.
Amazing Spider-Man #2 might not be the most exciting or nail-biting issue of the series, but its so well tuned that it makes waiting a month for a new issue feel completely worthwhile. The relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man showcases Slott’s pacing, humor, and language at his best. When the writing and art are this well-constructed it does the one thing that makes comics worth reading; it brings these larger-than-life characters to life before our very eyes. Even without big shocks and world-ending scenarios, Amazing Spider-Man is more readable than ever.