Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #1

Background

A few years ago, when Marvel decided to relaunch the Spider-Man titles with new #1's, the original run of Spectacular Spider-Man was unfortunately canceled after over 250 issues. But now that Peter Parker: Spider-Man has ended after two volumes and over 150 issues, the marketing geniuses at Marvel have come up with yet another brilliant idea: they've decided to kick off a new Spectacular Spider-Man series with a new #1. But unlike the case with the much-maligned Spider-Man relaunch of before, this time Marvel has plenty of A-list talent aboard: handling the scripts is the man who made PP:SM good, Paul Jenkins; and providing the art will be the team that produced the very pretty "Death in the Family" storyline from PP:SM, penciler Humberto Ramos and inker Wayne Faucher. And with all this talent on board the new Spectacular, the good people at spiderfan.org thought they'd better assign me to review it just to bring it down to earth a bit. Anyway, I'll get on with it...

Story Details

In Greenwich Village, we find a young lady making the dangerous mistake of walking alone in New York late at night. She's barely left the movie theatre where she works when she's attacked by a mysterious assailant. The next day, Peter Parker and his friends are enjoying a "Get-To-Know-You" party organized by Peter's Tenants' Association. It's here that we meet Pete's upstairs neighbour Big John Anderson, an unusual fellow who may be from New Zealand and who looks like a bear with an afro. When Peter goes inside to grab some ice, he spots another neighbour, but this one slams the door shut as soon as Peter says anything.

Back at the scene of last night's crime, a detective has been called in to look at the victim. The girl is alive but unconscious, with puncture marks on her back, which leads the detective to believe that one of his old cases is back to work. Meanwhile, in a church confessional, a terrified Eddie Brock admits his sins as the Venom symbiote oozes around him, grinning maniacally.

At St. Mark's Hospital, Peter Parker, Aunt May, and Liz Osborn have gathered to see Flash Thompson's bandages finally removed. Everyone gathered is surprised to see that, despite the horrible accident that has left Flash comatose to this day, his face is unharmed, although his mind will likely never return. Over at St. Jude's Hospital in Greenwich Village, the doctor on duty tells the detective that the modus operandi of the attacker fits that of the one the detective investigated before. The doctor goes on to say that the puncture wounds on the girl's back led to her adrenal glands which were sucked dry. And back at Peter's place, while Randy Robertson wonders where Peter is, Big John checks out Pete's hot neighbour Caryn.

Peter, however, has changed into his Spidey togs and is swinging into a subway tunnel where he finds Venom attacking a civilian. Venom is unlike we've ever seen him before, looking now completely misshapen and inhuman. Spider-Man and Venom battle, but Venom gets the upper hand, and when Spidey tries to talk to Eddie Brock, Venom tells him that there is no more Eddie...

General Comments

It's great to have Paul Jenkins back. One issue in and he's developing a mystery plot, re-introduced a supporting cast that had been for the most part MIA in the other Spidey books, updated Venom, and had a knock-down drag-out fight scene. It was great to see Flash, Liz, Randy, Glory, Jill, and Caryn again, and I really like the addition of Big John Anderson to the cast. And as for the mystery and Venom, it should be very exciting to see where this leads.

As for the art from Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher, it's cartoony but exciting and very easy on the eyes. They do a good job with the out of costume stuff, a great job with Spidey, and the Venom re-design is like something out of a nightmare. My one complaint is that the action scenes, while spectacular (pardon the pun), are sometimes hard to follow. I've mentioned this before in PP:SM, too, but I'm also concerned that Ramos' work will suffer with the grind of a monthly title, but I hope he proves me wrong.

There were a few things about this issue that I didn't like, but nothing major. How did Spidey know Venom was in that subway tunnel? I'm guessing that he followed the "psychic link" that Jenkins mentioned, but it's unclear. Where was Mary Jane? She and Peter are back together in ASM, yet she's not even mentioned here. Also, I'm not sure that I like this new version of Venom, but it is good to see a character evolve (or perhaps in this case, "devolve"), and at the very least it should be interesting. And Caryn's back, but where's Barker?!

Overall Rating

A great opening issue. Four spectacular webs, despite the lack of Barker.