Marvel celebrated Spider-Man’s 50th birthday with an extra-sized issue that week that included not only the debut of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new sidekick, in a story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, but also new stories by Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Did Spidey celebrate his big day in style or was the party a bust? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Marvel’s gift to Spider-fans includes signing Spider-Man up for the ‘Sidekick Club.’ That comes in the form of Alpha, an until-this-issue normal high-schooler, not unlike Peter Parker back in the days of yore. Alpha’s civilian identity of Andy Maguire is an ordinary C student content with just existing. He’s not a loser, but he sure isn’t a winner. In short, he’s young Peter Parker without any motivation or interest.” (4/5 stars)
Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “It’s a fun inversion, having Peter himself hosting a group of Midtown High School kids to show off his new ‘Parker Particles,’ and of course it goes awry – although this time, it’s thanks to a bit of skullduggery from a jealous aspiring Horizon Labs scientist named Tiberius. This little sabotage actually brings to mind the origin of Spider-Man 2099, when Miguel O’Hara was cursed with spider-powers he didn’t want after a spiteful co-worker tried to kill him with his own device. That probably wasn’t intentional at all, but I saw it, so I’m calling it cool. Anyway, the resulting disaster gives Maguire a crazy level of super power not unlike Ultra Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes in that he’s got all the generic superhero basics but can only use them one at a time.”
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “This isn’t a bad tale, with a strong spine, good gags and cameos that move things forward. Writer Dan Slott’s use of the Spidey origin as the template for Alpha’s makes sense within the story, as does Andy’s quick descent into selfish lunkhead … it’s wrestler Spidey all over again. Hopefully Alpha won’t have to lose one of his idiot parents to learn that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’
“I’m not sure I’ll pop back to see how Andy gets on, though Slott is a talented enough writer to not go for the obvious and have him quickly learn what it is to be a hero, or get killed. The simple fact is that Alpha doesn’t grab me – every time he comes on panel, I’m wishing him away. What I want from a Spider-Man book are challenging villains, plenty of Peter Parker, and supporting characters charismatic enough to have their own subplots. I don’t want an arrogant kid as a major player.”
David Pepose, Newsarama: “…artist Humberto Ramos certainly isn’t hard on the eyes here. His cartoony style does work nicely with this teen-centric story, as even the masked Spider-Man has a world of expressiveness in his eyes. Ramos also really ups the ante in terms of pure speed, particularly an image where Alpha zooms towards the murderous scaly creature known as Giganto. Ramos is at his best, however, when he’s able to add some narrative visually, and a two-page spread where Spidey and Alpha team up is easily the highlight of the book. But sometimes Ramos and inker Victor Olazaba have their slip-ups, particularly when Alpha suddenly gets weird wrinkles or has his face covered in shadow.” (7/10)
Roger Riddell, The Comic Vault: “As for the back-up stories, Dean Haspiel’s ‘Spider-Man For A Night’ draws on Amazing Spider-Man #50, exploring what happened with Spider-Man’s costume on the night that he decided to be ‘Spider-Man No More’ with a conclusion that tugs at the heart-strings. The story and art are both beautifully done, and the same can be said story-and-art-wise for Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati’s ‘Just Right,’ which finds Pete going through a typical ‘Parker luck’ type of day before ultimately helping someone else have a great day.”
Walt Richardson, Multiversity Comics: “Amazing Spider-Man #692 is far from a bad comic, but when a comic is $5.99, it needs to do at least one of two things: a) it needs to be really damn good, or it needs to offer massive amounts of content. This issue does not really do either. Slott’s tale is fun and interesting, but far from the high standards he has set for himself, and while Haspiel’s story is pretty damn great, it isn’t enough to balance out the ‘Well, it’s pretty good, I guess’ reads that are Slott and Fialkov’s tales. If you’re a big Spidey fan, this 50th anniversary issue is probably just what you’re looking for, especially if you have been enjoying Slott’s run so far. If you have been reading for a while, though, and were disappointed with the recent Lizard-centric arc, this is not going to sway you back to the fold. And if you have not been reading superhero comics in general and were interested in this anniversary issue solely because of the film The Amazing Spider-Man, you should just look somewhere else. On the plus side, though, those Marcos Martin variants are f***ing fantastic. Everyone else might as well stop trying.” (6/10)
(Speaking of those covers, enjoy them all below …)
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