Even in the post-“Secret Wars” all-new, all-different Marvel Universe, some things never change. As always, Peter Parker was a high school student during his early days as Spider-Man, and that’s where writer Robbie Thompson and artist Nick Bradshaw focus their story in “Spidey” #1. This friendly, accessible and done-in-one story is jammed with fights, friends and frenemies and introduces some familiar foes and supporting cast members — familiar, but refreshed just enough to keep from seeming like yet another introduction in yet another continuity. The pleasingly lighthearted cover by Bradshaw and colorist Jim Campbell — as well as the nostalgic title logo that evokes the 1970’s “Spidey Super Stories” title — might mislead some readers into thinking this comic is for the younger crowd, but it’s a remarkably fun and enjoyable story for all ages.
Thankfully, no one has to sit through another retelling of Spidey’s origin, but Thompson does invite new readers by providing an immediate one-page recap of the highlights, changing none of the essential elements of what turned Petey into Spidey, although Bradshaw gives all of the characters involved a 21st century makeover. For those who already know the essentials, the short summation is unobtrusive but still fun to look at, so few should mind this momentary and cautious diversion, which takes nothing away from the rest of the issue. One turn of the page has Spidey swinging across the skyline, fighting a third-rate villain and getting to school tardy, of course. Thompson gives classic Spider-Man fans everything they expect, but nothing they don’t mind seeing again, as Bradshaw’s densely packed and detailed panels make this lighter take on Spidey worth scrutinizing.
Collectively, Thompson and Bradshaw combine the fresh and the familiar in a perfect recipe for just about all Spider-fans. Peter’s likeable and slightly self-deprecating narration reads every bit like the younger Peter Parker fans know, but Bradshaw’s attention to character likenesses and detail give it an entirely new flavor, yet one that sits nicely alongside the classic look from decades past. There’s an old-school feel, but one with a fresh perspective and modern upgrade.
Bradshaw’s art is crisp and forces readers to slow down and walk through Thompson’s story rather than race through it. The level of detail belies the stark simplicity of Thompson’s tale, and every panel is worth taking a closer look to either examine the backgrounds or just simply admire their construction. Campbell frequently uses color contrasts that further sharpen the clarity of Bradshaw’s lines. The layouts are comprised of exclusively rectangular, traditional-style panels that heighten the classic feel of the issue.
For those tired of or uninterested in multiversal Spider-Men swinging across dimensions, “Spidey” #1 scratches that Spidey-itch. Those who do enjoy the other Spider-Man titles will enjoy this, too; this all-ages book will especially appeal to old-school fans who miss the Spider-Man of decades ago.