Zeb Wells takes the reins on Amazing Spider-Man along with returning legendary artist John Romita Jr. to usher in a new era on the title. Peter Parker is on the outs with the Avengers. He’s on the outs with the Fantastic Four. He’s on the outs with Aunt May! No one wants to see Spider-Man — except for Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock is on Spidey’s tail, and the Master Planner has something truly terrible planned for when he gets his tentacles on Spidey. But what did Spider-Man do that has alienated him from everyone? And what moves is the gangster called Tombstone making?
Wells is no stranger to Spider-Man, having significant contributions to various spin-off titles over the years including Peter Parker: Spider-Man, Tangled Web and Avenging Spider-Man along with two previous Amazing Spider-Man runs during the Brand New Day and Beyond story arcs. But this is his first time having sole custody of Spidey’s flagship title and he immediately make an impact. His run is quite a departure from Nick Spencer’s run that came before the Beyond arc. Peter had been successfully rebuilding his life and was back together with Mary Jane to the delight of fans. But something has gone drastically wrong, and he is now at rock bottom. Mary Jane is now with an immensely unlikable character named Paul and appears to have children. It is not clear why thing have crashed so spectacularly for Peter, but Wells does a great job of teasing at the life-changing event.
He also revisits some fun threads like the romance between Peter’s roommate Randy Robertson and Janice Lincoln – AKA The Beetle and daughter of crime boss Tombstone. This brilliantly pivots into Tombstone trying to fill the vacuum left by The Kingpin’s departure and results in particularly brutal encounter with Spider-Man. We get to see some attempts at one-upmanship by both as neither wants to be used by the other and Spidey’s resiliency is on full display here. He also brings back gamma powered composite crime boss Digger who has not been seen since J Michael Straczynski’s run and makes for a fun heavy.
Many comic fans will tell you John Romita Jr. is one of the definitive Spider-Man artists. With his long history with the character that goes back 40 years across several runs on Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Man, he has undeniably left his mark on the character. This series not only marks his return to Spidey, but also his return to Marvel after working for DC for several years. Romita Jr has not missed a beat in this time and his art brings strong waves of nostalgia and familiarity. He’s still one of the best in the game with his action as dynamic as ever and his dark sometimes blocky characters being perfectly suited to the street level storytelling in this series. Plus no one draws characters standing in the rain at night better.
This is an intriguing new era of Spider-Man which definitely shakes up the status quo. Peter Parker might be in dark place right now, but his flagship comic series is in very safe hands.
Amazing Spider-Man By Wells & Romita Jr. Vol. 1: World Without Love is out now from Marvel (9781302932725, p/b, £16.99)
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