“Amazing Spider-Man Special” #1 by Jeff Loveness and Luca Pizzari is the first issue of a three-part crossover story, “Inhuman Error,” that will be continued in “Inhuman Special” #1 and “All-New Captain America Special” #1. Although the plot is heavily focused on the Inhumans, Spider-Man gets to lead with the first issue and exposition.
Spider-Man fans aren’t going to be disappointed on the basis of Spider-Man’s characterization. Spidey gets plenty of panel time and cracks plenty of jokes. Loveness’ lines for Spider-Man are the highlight of “Amazing Spider-Man Special” #1. His portrayal of Peter Parker is old school. The introductory scene at a coffee shop works to establish Peter as a regular guy, although it’s trying a little too hard. Spider-Man’s nonstop, self-deprecating quips and exaggerated romance problems make the reading experience fun, though. Pizzari’s energetic line and sense of timing both carry the humor well. The full-page spread of Spider-Man swinging and singing with his burrito in hand is a hilarious moment. When a kid thinks that Spider-Man is Blade, it’s just ridiculous enough to be funny, even if the event itself strains belief.
If “Inhuman Error” is meant to be another springboard for the Inhumans, it fails. Medusa has her usual effect of grandeur and inapproachability. Her interaction with Spider-Man is amusing, but it doesn’t deepen her characterization to have her play the straight man to his funny man. Despite attempts at team banter and a sequence of Spider-Man shaking everyone’s hand, the Inhumans remain bland. The plot moves quickly, but nothing much occurs. The villain is revealed at the end of the issue, and neither his cliche-ridden dialogue nor his revenge motive creates a lot of suspense.
Pizzari’s anatomy is off in the more ambitious panels, but his line has an attractive amount of bounce and variation. The ambition itself is commendable. Spider-Man looks lithe and acrobatic in the large variety of poses that Pizzari puts him in, even if the details in bones and muscles are occasionally wrong. In certain panels, he nails the dramatic effect, like in first appearance of the “floating island of doom.” Woodard’s coloring is good example of how a coloring can squander the effects of pretty pencil work. Woodard interrupts the effects of some of Pizzari’s background details by using flat monotones or garishly mismatched color tones that look muddy on the page. The only exception is how he makes Medusa’s hair look liquid and powerful, enhancing Pizzari’s muscular linework for her tresses.
Specials and Annuals have a bad reputation for stories that don’t matter and, unfortunately, “Amazing Spider-Man Special” #1 fits that stereotype. The A-list characters stay A-listers and the B-listers don’t get reflected glory. The dull plot diminishes the brightness of Loveness’ humor and Pizzari’s visual energy. Maybe things will get spiced up when Sam Wilson shows up, but the story feels lightweight and minor so far, and the Inhumans don’t improve their appeal enough to make them matter to the reader.