THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #789 REVIEW

BY JESSE SCHEDEEN By my count, Amazing Spider-Man #789 marks the sixth time writer Dan Slott has ushered in a bold new status quo for Spider-Man since beginning his long runway back in 2008’s Amazing Spider-Man #545. Once again, Peter Parker is moving forward from a major hardship and trying to find his place in the Marvel Universe again. There’s a certain sense of diminishing returns to the series at this point, as the new status quo feels a bit too similar to the Brand New Day relaunch in many respects. Still, as long as Slott and artist Stuart Immonen remain on board, fans can always expect a certain level of quality.

Secret Empire brought an end to Peter’s stint as a billionaire industrialist. With his company in ruins and the entire world calling for blood, Peter is pretty much back to square one – broke, unloved and cursed by the infernal Parker Luck. It’s a classic Spider-Man status quo that’s at once comfortably familiar and annoyingly predictable. The big challenge facing this series now is proving that Peter has legitimately grown as a character and that this isn’t merely a reversion to the norm (which, in many ways, is the challenge facing Marvel Legacy as a whole). I certainly had my issues with Peter’s portrayal during the Parker Industries era, but Slott was great about constantly challenging the character and forcing Peter to acknowledge that power and responsibility are more complicated concepts than he realized. As a CEO, Peter finally lived up to the vast potential of his brilliant mind. Is there a way to move forward now without Peter completely back-sliding into his underachieving, slacker 20-something phase? We’ll see.

For now, the series seems mostly content to coast on the inverted Peter/Spider-Man dynamic, where now the former is the most revered man in New York and the latter becomes a welcome respite from his troubles. Admittedly, it’s a pretty fun role reverse, even if some of the reactions from New York City civilians in this issue seem a bit over-the-top. This issue also benefits a great deal from the blossoming Spider-Man/Mockingbird romance. Peter’s love life has generally taken a back seat in recent years, so it’s nice to see that element rising to the forefront again. As crappy as Peter’s life is right now, there’s a certain sense of fun to the book that’s been mostly absent lately.

It’s also immensely satisfying to see Immonen stick around on the series. It’s far too rare for any Marvel book to feature a consistent artist, much less one as high profile as this. Immonen has the opportunity to flex a different set of muscles in this issue. With less emphasis on explosive superhero action and drama, Immonen is able to instead focus on character dynamics and mining Peter’s miserable existence for the greatest amount of tragedy and comedy possible. The clean, detailed lines, expressive figures and orderly page design all combine to form a book that’s incredibly easy on the eyes regardless of subject matter.

The Verdict

Amazing Spider-Man’s new direction in Marvel Legacy is a bit of a mixed bag right now. As satisfying as it is to see a classic, “down on his luck” version of Peter Parker, the series needs to prove that Peter can continue to evolve as a character even as he falls back into old habits. Fortunately, the proven creative team are still able to deliver an entertaining start to this new era for the series.