Amazing Spider-Man (vol.2) #1 (January, 1999)
“Where R U Spider-Man???”
“The Secrets of Spider-Man”
Writers – Howard Mackie & John Byrne
Pencils – John Byrne & Rafael Kayanan
Inks – Scott Hanna & Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors – Gregory Wright & John Kalisz
Letters – Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Liz Agraphiotis
Edits – Ralph Macchio
Chief – Bob Harras
Cover Price: $2.99
So… hey Blogger, looks like both your “New Look” and “Legacy” versions are gigantic pieces of crap! Why am I still using this platform? Today’s post, which hopefully at least a person or two is going to bother to look at… took friggin’ forever (we’re talking close to three-GeeDee-hours… which is probably about two and a half hours longer than Howard Mackie spent writing the actual issue), thanks to Blogger being very finicky when it comes to uploading images. There are something like 25 images associated with this article. I had to manually upload them one-at-a-time, while taking several “breaks” because Blogger would simply stop responding after like three or so in a row.
I mean, this is Google, right? Like one of the biggest tech companies on this planet? Fix ya stuff.
Now, if all that’s not bad enough… here’s Amazing Spider-Man #1.
We open at the Statue of Liberty, where the Human Torch has writ a message in flame… he’s looking for Spider-Man, see? Seems as though the Wall Crawler meant it when he tossed his duds into the flaming drum this time. Worth noting, Byrne draws the most depressed-looking Lady Liberty here. We get a bit of a flashback to the final chapter of… The Final Chapter, and learn that it’s been months since anyone’s seen Spidey. Johnny rejoins the Fantastic Four and decides to give up the search… for now. The Fantasticar zips right passed a penthouse apartment… where, thanks to one giant modeling contract, Peter, Mary Jane, and Aunt May now reside.
It’s really a heck of a joint… looks kinda like where a 1980’s drug-lord might live. Peter is thankful that his life as Spider-Man is behind him, though not so thankful that he doesn’t have a framed picture of Spidey on his wall. I guess since Parker made his name by snapping pics of Spider-Man, it makes sense that it’d be here.
Aunt May makes herself useful by slapping together a sandwich for her favorite nephew… and they sit down to “catch up”. May recalls all of the weirdness of late: her faked death, her abduction, that horrible Spider-Man… yadda, yadda, yadda. Gotta wonder just how often she and Peter have this same exact conversation. I’d guess 2-3 times a day. This time, May blames it all on rap music. Seriously.
The chat is mercifully interrupted by a phone call from Mary Jane’s legs. She’s just found out that her time away has been extended another week-plus. Peter, doesn’t seem all that bothered… so long as she’s having fun, she can stay away forever! That’s a sign of a healthy marriage. Peter promises not to engage in any arachnid endeavors while she’s gone… after all, he’s got other priorities now: grad school and an upcoming job interview!
We shift scenes to Daredevil beating up some would-be mugger in an alley. He’s really felt the pressure since Spidey stepped down… looks like all the “street level” crims are now solely under his purview. That’s gotta suck. Elsewhere in New York City, Captain America watches as Johnny’s flaming missive dissipates. He wonders if they’ll ever see Spider-Man again. Hmm… where were all these heroes while Norman was destroying half the city?
Cap heads inside and witnesses a really awkward and clunkily-written Avengers training exercise. Thor almost kills Wanda with his hammer, Justice and Iron Man are arguing over whether or not Spider-Man’s disappearance even matters. It’s really forced stuff. Jarvis gives Captain America the latest edition of The Daily Bugle, which has a (imagine this) scathing headline about Spider-Man. Ooooooh. This time, Jonah’s gone too far… insinuating that Spider-Man might be… a coward! I’m pretty sure Jonah’s accused Spidey of eating babies before… this is really the bridge too far?
Heck, even Robbie agrees! This is really bad. I’d like to give them a bit of credit here, for having Jonah still be obsessed with Spider-Man, even though nobody’s seen him in forever. Robbie even tells him that he’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted… and has, in fact “won” his endless feud. This is just a very hamfisted way of getting that point across.
Peter arrives with some photos… but, since none of them involve Spider-Man, Jonah doesn’t even wanna look at ’em. Dude’s obsessed. Just then, a crime comes in over the wire: the Scorpion is running amok downtown. Peter declines an offer to go snap a few pics, leaving the gig to Betty Brant. Now, this Scorpion redesign… woof. It su-u-u-u-u-cks.
Okay, so we follow Ms. Brant downtown with her cheap-looking camera, so she might capture some of this rampage. Scorpion notices her… and heads right in her direction. But… but… but… then, Spider-Man shows up! Well, that didn’t take long, now did it?
They fight for a bit, before Scorpion drops a building on poor Spidey and flees the scene. It’s almost like Spider-Man is some sort of “rank amateur” or something. Welp… that’s too bad.
A “short time later”, we pop over to Tri Corp Research Foundation, where Peter Parker has arrived for his job interview. Hey, waitaminute, didn’t he just have a building dropped on him? Hmm… well, that would be telling. Anyhoo, Pete is met by a Ms. Terry Kwan who gives him the nickel tour before introducing him to the folks he’d be working with if he’s offered the gig. There are a lot of words crammed into these panels, folks. Words that basically say nothing.
Let’s meet his team (well, if he gets the job, wink, wink). Walter Thorson – an Astrophysicist, Javier Caldrone – a Molecular Chemist, Stan Hardy (really?) – Geneticist, and Chantal Stone – Quantum Mechanic. It’s a Burger King Kid’s Club up in here.
Just then… the Scorpion attacks! Well, that’s inconvenient. Peter springs into action, helping his new acquaintances to safety… hopefully, without giving away his secret identity.
The Scorpion focuses in on Peter… and reveals that his bioscan “matches perfectly”, whatever that means.
Before our man can act, however… Spider-Man shows up! Wha-a-a? (You bored yet?)
As Spider-Man and the Scorpion tussle… with the latter definitely maintaining the upper-hand, Peter does some quick thinking and figures out a way to get involved in the brouhaha without giving up his secret. He notices a Kirby2000 generator, and lassos a bunch of wires around the Scorpion’s arm before short-circuiting his ugly new suit.
With Gargan on the ground, Peter heads over to Spider-Man and asks who’s under that mask. Spidey quips that it’s a secret… duh.
Peter then meets Dr. Ted Twaki, the Head of Tri Corp… and, is offered the job on the spot. We close out with our boy returning home to share the good news with his Aunt.
That’s not all, friends… we’ve got Back-Ups! Well, sorta… there’s really very little to even talk about. The first one is called Rebirth!, and features the Scorpion testing his ugly new costume by fighting a bunch of computer-generated Spider-Men. Hmm… maybe he just went into the future and checked out a “current year” Spider-book… there are hundreds of Spider-folks running around these days!
The other back-up is called The Secrets of Spider-Man, which is more or less post-Byrne/Mackie Reboot Peter reminiscing over his time as Spider-Man… while incorporating bits and pieces from Spider-Man: Chapter One into his narrative. It’s not great… but, it does save you from actually reading the first issue of Spider-Man: Chapter One… so, thank goodness for small favors!
I’m about half-hot right now due to Blogger being a complete POS… not sure this is the sort of state of mind I ought to be in to give an objective gander to this here issue… but, there ain’t anybody else writing this… so, we’ll give it the old college try. I started writing this post when it was still dark outside… and it’s now mid-morning. Jesus. Thanks for wasting half my Monday, Blogger! Piece of crap.
Okay, okay… let’s talk Spidey. Here’s the thing… reading this back, it really isn’t as bad as Spider-Man: Chapter One… and yeah, that’s sorta “damning with faint praise”. That being said, it also doesn’t (at all) feel like it ought to have been a “#1”. There was nothing special about this… at all!
I feel like, and this is just me, if you have a “#1” issue, you should be able to feel like you’re reading a “#1” issue… even if you didn’t have the foggiest idea what the number on the cover is. It should feel NEW, it should feel FRESH… it should feel SPECIAL. This felt like none’a that. I think a few days back I said that this reboot smells like moth balls and Werther’s Originals… and, I still feel that way. This is instantly stale.
It feels like a Byrnian gimmick out of the 1980’s… which, back then was novel. Nearing the turn of the 21st Century, however, there’s a definite feeling of “been there, done that”. Byrne and Mackie were supposed to be breathing new life into this property… and, they absolutely failed. This might not be entirely their fault, however… I mean, Marvel has an editorial staff… is this really what Ralf and Harras envisioned when they handed the reins over to these two? Stale, throwback, barely Spidey newspaper-strip worthy stories?
That’s kind of the most aggravating part of this… this is “serviceable” more so than “awful”, but if you’re relaunching, rebooting, and reimagining your flagship character/property… it needs to be more than just serviceable. It needs to absolutely kick your butt… make you sit back and say “wow”. Lemme tell ya, back in 1999, we Spider-Fans were indeed saying “wow”, but for all the wrong reasons.