Bunch of different Spidey versions out there already, what with Ultimate, Marvel Adventures, Amazing Spider-Girl, and even Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. And guess what? They've just rebooted the Peter Parker of Marvel's mainstream continuity. Been said that the thinking behind this shake-up is that Spidey's colorful but perhaps too dense history had been putting off potential readers. So why not have a fresh start? That's just what the Marvel think tank did.
Thing is, I was actually cool with Spidey the way he was - married to M.J. and hanging out with the New Avengers, and with Aunt May clued in to his superhero alter ego. But, yes, the Back in Black arc was not good. And then the horrific ONE MORE DAY came along, and, man, that was some hellacious outcry that tore thru Marveldom. I know, because I was one of those waving a pitchfork and a torch. In ONE MORE DAY Peter and Mary Jane make a deal with Mephisto to save Peter's Aunt May, who had been fatally shot. So Aunt May gets a new lease on life, but, in exchange, Mephisto strips away the love of Peter's life. In consequence, Peter's story (and history) is ret-conned. Which brings us now to BRAND NEW DAY.
In this spanking new and rebooted reality, Pete is once again broke as hell, dateless, and has moved back in with Aunt May in Forest Hills, Queens. Mary Jane Watson is no longer in the picture and, in fact, has never been married to Peter. Formerly deceased Harry Osbourne is alive and well and is again hanging out with Pete. No one knows that Peter is Spider-Man, not Daredevil or Wolverine or Cap or the Avengers. The world is vaguely aware that Peter went public months ago during the Civil War event, but they're having a hard time recalling details (because I guess Tivo was on the fritz that day). Meanwhile, the Superhuman Registration Act has had Peter hesitant to step out as Spidey for months now. But, of course, it's inevitable that his bump of responsibility will force him to once again don his wallcrawler duds.
There's only one Spider-Man title now, which tracks Peter's place in Marvel's mainstream continuity. However AMAZING SPIDER-MAN now publishes three times a month, thanks to a brain trust of writers and artists who rotate per story arc. Writer Dan Slott is a great choice to launch Brand New Day. What's instantly noticeable is the sense of fun which permeates the stories. Slott is capable as a storyteller, but his calling card is his humor (his She-Hulk stories rock!). Slott returns Peter to his lovable loser days and dips him deep in that old Parker luck (which is mostly not good luck). The story opens up with Peter picking up a cake (lemon) for his Aunt May's birthday, but from the get-go, the premonition is that that cake won't even come close to getting to Aunt May intact. Worse things later happen to Pete (including, yes, getting mugged). Then it's Marc Guggenheim's turn with the writing. He manages to maintain that touch of lightheartedness and levity.
Peter gets a larger supporting cast, which now integrates the staff at the Daily Bugle. This new reality shoves Pete back to his photography gig for the Bugle, except that the newspaper establishment now runs under new management, although J.Jonah Jameson's gruff and ornery presence is still felt. So far though, none of the new cast members are making me stand up and take notice. Except for the mysterious Jackpot, New York's newest registered superheroine. She's a redhead and likes to call Spidey "Tiger," so right away the webslinger has his suspicions. From the rogue gallery front, we're introduced to new villains, the most ominous being the shadowy Mr. Negative, the most lame being the Spider-Mugger. The rest of these new bads aren't impressive, although I got a kick out of that one villain who's also a gynormous Spidey fan.
Oh, there's also a serial killer running around planting Spidey tracers on his victims. What's up with that? You won't find out in these pages.
This trade collection, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: BRAND NEW DAY, Vol. 1, starts off with SPIDER-MAN: SWING SHIFT which features Spidey's return after a months-long absence in this new status quo, followed by AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546-551, and culminating with a short story reprinted from VENOM SUPER-SPECIAL #1 (Don Slott's very first Spidey story). Also included is the pretty interesting 5-paged Spider-Man Manifesto by Spidey Executive Editor Tom Brefoort, in which he lays down his thoughts on what makes Spidey so popular and iconic. The superb visuals are provided by Phil Jimenez (who flaunts that George Perez style), Steve McNiven, and Salvador Larroca, three talented artists who make Spidey look very, very good.
This is a Peter Parker who's still beset with problems, yet he seems somehow more innocent and hopeful. Honestly, I was all set to slam Brand New Day. But now, after what I've read so far, I'm more willing to give this reboot a chance, to see if this brain trust is actually going somewhere with it. So far, Brand New Day hasn't bowled me over. But it's nice. By no means are these the best Spidey stories I've read, but I do relish the energy, the jaunty tone and the sense of freshness. Lessee if that lasts.
But I'm still mad at ONE MORE DAY.