It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the new Spider-Man mini-series has little going for it than beyond having filmmaker J.J. Abrams’ name attached to it. I would say that Spider-Man mini-series are a dime a dozen these days, but that’s stretching a dime pretty thin and I know of no comic shops offering that kind of deal in these days when even the dollar bin is falling out of fashion. But I digress.
The point is that there was little reason for Spider-Man #1 to exist and the book seems even more pointless after the truth behind it lays revealed. For this comic was sold through chicanery and an advertising campaign that completely obscured its actual content. Indeed, the advertising for this comic said precious little beyond the fact that J.J. Abrams was co-writing it with his son, Henry.
I will say this before I get to the spoilery portion of this review; this book does have good artwork. Sara Pichelli is a wonder and Dave Stewart delivers his usual stellar job on the colors. The inks by Elisabetta D’Amico are a little soft at times, but this largely enhances Pichelli’s pencils. Unfortunately, this is not enough to save this book from its story or the lies that went into promoting it. Make of that what you will and abandon this review now if you wish to remain unspoiled.
Despite the advertising for the first three issues of this mini-series going out of their way to promote Mary Jane Watson’s presence as well as a new villain called Cadaverous, both are barely in this issue. Indeed, Mary Jane is unceremoniously fridged by Cadaverous early on in this issue and her death causes Peter Parker to give up being Spider-Man. The true focus of the comic is Peter and MJ’s son, Ben Parker (of course!), who has grown into a troubled teen that picks fights with the bullies at his high school some 12 years after MJ’s death and his discovery that he has powers and is the son of an ex-superhero.
Okay, so the comic is about Ben Parker becoming the new Spider-Man. Where’s the problem?
The problem, dear reader, is that we’ve seen most of this before. Ben’s path to becoming Spider-Man is exactly the same as his father’s, save that Aunt May is fully aware of what is going on when young Ben accidentally breaks the front door because he can’t let go of the doorknob or when he wakes up literally hugging the ceiling after a nightmare. But at least Ben has his loving father’s support to help guide him through the discovery that he has powers, right?
Not so much. Peter is barely a presence in his son’s life, working a photography job that has him traveling constantly and leaving the job of raising Ben to Aunt May. To say that this is horribly out of character for Peter is a vast understatement. While it is believable Peter might give up being Spider-Man to focus on caring for his son (particularly as a single parent), it is totally unbelievable that he would quit being Spider-Man and neglect his son, particularly given Peter’s own past as an orphan. While Peter may have his emo moments, it is unfathomable that he would spend over a decade avoiding his family for fear that his presence would curse them. It’s also unbelievable that Aunt May would allow this to happen.
Of course this will probably lead to Peter remembering who he is and what’s important in the end and a wonderful story about fathers and sons bonding despite their differences. But who cares? In the here and now, this is a terrible story with good artwork that completely assassinates the character of Peter Parker in the name of shock value, to sell a story that couldn’t be promoted on its own merits.