Graphic Novel Review: Amazing Spider-Man: Back to Basics

Amazing Spider-Man: Back to Basics

Amazing Spider-Man: Back to Basics - Credit: Archant

Everything’s new again for Spider-Man: a new writer, a new artist, new roommates, a new villain and a new love interest... But it’s still the wall-crawler we know and love!

(Panini Books)

A new beginning for the web-slinger, as Nick Spencer inherits the writer’s mantle in the wake of Dan Slott’s decade-long tenure, and immediately sets about establishing a new status quo for Peter Parker and his supporting cast.

First for the chop is Pete’s role as science editor for the Daily Bugle after a piece of software designed to root out plagiarism identifies his doctorate thesis as the work of Otto Octavius, for the simple reason that the one-time Dr Octopus was in control of his body at the time.

Unable to explain this unlikely situation to his peers or Aunt May, Parker is once again humiliated by the burden of his alter ego, but is given the chance to make up for his mistakes by retaking his qualification at Empire State University.

Unfortunately this involves working alongside Curt Connors, currently in control of his Lizard persona, and effectively going back to school. But when an unlikely series of events creates separate identities for Peter and Spider-Man, it could prove to be the perfect opportunity to escape the shadows of both.

With the now-powerless Parker now able to rekindle his relationship with former lover Mary Jane Watson, the wall-crawling Spidey is free to battle giant robots across New York, and nobody need suffer as a consequence. Or so you would think…

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In reality, the disparate versions of the same man have been diminished by their fission, with Spider-Man lacking the moral compass which makes him a hero and Pete no longer the web-spinning genius he once was, and unless they are reunited then both will end up decidedly dead…

After years of Slott’s particular writing style embedded in the way Spider-Man talks, thinks and operates, it’s initially somewhat unnerving to experience Spencer’s take on the wall-crawler, especially as he is teamed with an artist previously not associated with the character, namely former Invincible illustrator Ryan Ottley.

But by the time you reach the end of the first issue collected herein, there’s a welcome relief that not only is this the same old Spidey, but he’s finally back with MJ after years spent apart, a development this fanboy can only celebrate.

He’s also picked up two new room-mates in the form of his ex-boss’ son Randy Robertson and Fred Myers, who is better known as the villainous Boomerang, the break-out star of Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man series, which sets up the potential for added drama in the months to come.

There’s a lot of potential in this initial collection of issues, particularly the debut of an intriguing new villain, and although there isn’t the shock element of Spencer’s first Captain America issue, it’s a reassuringly solid start to what will hopefully be a long run.