Writer: Dan Slott
Penciller: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colourist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Previously, in Amazing Spider-Man: 50 (real-life) years ago, mild mannered Peter Parker attended a science exhibition and was bitten by a radioactive spider, granting him all of the abilities of a human arachnid. After learning the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility, Peter became the Amazing Spider-Man, and now battles crime as a superhero in New York City.
Now, Peter is an Avenger, as well as one of the top scientists at New York’s Horizon Labs. He has unlimited resources and all the time in the world to turn his scientific mind to solving the problems that both the world faces, and he himself does from his villains as Spider-Man. And now, it’s time to say happy birthday, as Spidey’s 50th Anniversary is upon us.
Opening this issue is the lead story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, the first part of the Alpha storyline that introduces Spidey’s new sidekick, Andy Maguire. The first 10 or so pages are a wonderful parallel of Amazing Fantasy #15, right down to the excessive text boxes that describe everything in detail which were commonplace in 60s comic books. Slott manages to evoke the voice of Stan Lee without trying too hard, and captures the essence of the era without ruining the atmosphere of the comic – it is set in the modern day, and this isn’t a flashback book, and the use of the text boxes doesn’t do anything to overcome this.
The rest of the issue deals with Peter and Andy getting to know each other as Spider-Man and Alpha, as they discover Andy’s power-set and start their hero/sidekick relationship. This is interspersed with some nice character moments as Spidey seeks help from the Avengers, and goes to meet his Aunt May and Jay Jameson for dinner. It’s clear that this isn’t a relationship that Peter is comfortable with, and continues to make a mess of it despite his best intentions. Despite the huge amount of storylines Spider-Man has been involved in before, this is a completely new experience for him, and that makes for great reading.
Andy himself is interesting, especially when compared to Peter. He is the complete opposite, barely motivated, and not afraid to use his powers for his own gain. The fact that he becomes the Horizon Labs spokes-hero doesn’t do anything to stop this, and the juxtaposition of Peter’s more mature, responsible superhero with Andy shows that Spidey really is a dedicated hero, despite the fact that he is usually portrayed as the wisecracking, juvenile one. It also shows how much Spidey cares about the hero business, as he tries to get Andy to understand how to use his powers properly.
Also contained in this issue are two back-up stories – the first is written and drawn by Dean Haspiel, which looks at the fate of Spidey’s costume after it is discarded during the Spider-Man No More storyline from around Amazing Spider-Man #50. This starts out a bit rough, but has a heartfelt ending, even if it seems a little hamfisted at times. The second, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati is much better at getting its message across, and whilst it’s a bit clichéd at this point, it’s a sweet little story that feels appropriate for this 50th Anniversary issue.
Whilst the price tag on this book isn’t quite justified, it’s still well worth picking up. The first part of the Alpha storyline is promising (and has an evil cliffhanger), and the two back-up stories are decent fodder that will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling that reminds you why Spider-Man has lasted for fifty years so far. All that’s left to say is happy birthday Spidey, here’s to another fifty.
GO Rating: 4.5/5