REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man #692

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Fifty years is a long time to zip around town tethered to a spider-web and wearing red and blue (or black) tights. To ensure the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man doesn’t get too long in the tooth, Marvel has seen fit to introduced a kid sidekick. His name isn’t Oliver, and after this issue, the Spider-Man universe will be changed forever… AGAIN!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692
Writers: Dan Slot, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Nuno Plati
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorists: Edgar Delgado, Giulia Brusco
Letterers: VC’s Chris Eliopoulos, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $5.99

Previously in The Amazing Spider-Man Bit by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gains incredible powers, and becomes The Amazing Spider-Man.  But with great power, comes great responsibility, and Peter Parker is forced to remember it every day of his life.

REMEMBER THIS – REED RICHARDS, STILL A DICK

For the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man, Marvel spins a web of Spider-Man tales to thrill fans. When Marvel first teased, and then announced, a sidekick for Spider-Man I was a bit underwhelmed; it’s not like we haven’t seen this kind of thing before in a number of other books, and often, forcing a new character into a story that already works rather well seems to be a recipe for disaster.

Enter Andy Maguire.

For all the hullabaloo, Dan Slott does a good job at giving us an origin story that follows a very similar pattern as Spider-Man. Andy has always been average – too shy to talk to the girl he has the hots for, not interested enough to excel in his studies, and pretty much someone nobody pays attention to. That is until the day he played hero and saved the life of the girl he has the hots for when a lab experiment zapped him with Parker Particles – something Reed Richards discovered years ago…what a dick.

Enter Alpha.

Turns out, Eric Maguire now has the power of the universe, giving him a number of powers, but with one catch – his power is going to grow to the point where the brains of the Marvel Universe now consider him a threat. In order to monitor the “threat” and to train him not to go all Phoenix Force, the supers have decided that Peter Parker/Spider-Man should train him. As much as I didn’t want to like this turn of events, Mr. Slott has taken a tired premise and makes it fresh and entertaining. Even when the dark side of celebrity, pageant parents, and peer pressure turn up it doesn’t take the zing out of Andy’s fun, instead it turns him into a colossal problem that puts Andy in the same category as Jason Todd’s Robin.

Helping to sell the story is the art by Humberto Ramos. I could gush on how much I love his faces, his take on anatomy, and they way he makes the static image move, but you’ve heard that from me time and time (and time) again.

Yes, this could be the start of big problems for heroes (and villains) of the Marvel Universe, and I like this first chapter in the life of Alpha. I like that Andy is letting the power goes to his head, because when he does fall – and we know he will, it’s going to be a perfect opportunity for Spider-Man (and Dan Slott) to be amazing to show what it means to pick up the pieces and muster on as a real hero. It’s a spectacular Spider-Man story and earns high marks.

Rating: ★★★★½

TEAR JERKER

Remember when Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man and tossed his uniform in the dumpster? Dean Haspiel spins an untold tale of Spider-Man featuring an elderly down on his luck criminal, who finds the costume in the trash. Thinking he can use the costume to rob people, the geezer dons the suit and does nothing but fail at everything. Mr. Haspiel leads the readers to believe he is doing it for a girlfriend or wife, but when the real Olivia appears, and the old man realizes the power of the suit, it is a touching moment that leaves a tear in the eye.

Jumping from Mr. Ramos’ art to that of Giulia Brusco is quite jarring, but in the end, it works. Mr. Brusco’s art is similar to Mike Allred, and that style doesn’t sit well with me generally.  The layout and composition aren’t anything spectacular, but it did grow on me by the time the eight page story came to a close.

Overall, this is a nice tear jerker of a story. It makes a great backup story, even though it doesn’t feature Peter Parker Spider-Man.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIEND, CHRIS

The final story in this massive issue from Marvel is one I went in wanting to hate very much. Peter Parker is doing what he does best, failing at everything… On his way to guest lecture at his old school, the hero encounters one disaster after another that seem fitting for Peter Parker, the lovable loser. Joshua Hale Fialkov pulled a great swerve though, when Spider-Man encounters Chris, a kid getting beat up for telling everyone he was best friends with the hero. After a little talking to about the tangled web of lies, Spider-Man and Chris have a wonderful rest of the day, which gets our hero out of his funk, gets Chris a kiss from Spider Woman AND She-Hulk, in addition to a ride in the Spider-Mobile.

Nunu Plati’s art is interesting to say the least. If characters aren’t super skinny, then they tend to be overly bulky. It’s a weird style that I simply couldn’t wrap my head around. The artist has a great way of visually telling a story, but his character work is not to my liking.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BOTTOM LINE: $5.99? REALLY?

The Amazing Spider-Man #692 has a lot of pages, and tells three really good tales. I’m a bit put off by the nearly six dollar price tag, but after spending time reading this issue three times (once for an overview, once for the review, and again just for fun), in the end I feel like I got my money’s worth. There’s something for everyone in this issue, and it is worth picking up. I’m glad Marvel did the 50th Anniversary issue during the month Spider-Man first appeared, and didn’t try to force this into a 700th issue, which is just a couple of weeks away thanks to the multiple issues per month release schedule. I bought this issue in physical form instead of digital, and I’m glad I did. This is one I’ll be happy to pull out of the longbox in a few years and read again.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆