This 50th anniversary issue is neither amazing nor spectacular. One hoof out of four (not recommended).
“Point of Origin”
Written by Dan Slott. Penciled by Humberto Ramos. Inked by Victor Olazaba. Colored by Edgar Delgado.
The addition of Alpha starts a new era in Spider-Man. Ordinary Andy Maguire of Midtown High gains his powers from accident started by Peter Parker’s Parker Particle machine at Horizon Labs. Maguire, with energy-enhanced powers which he can use one at a time, soon becomes a celebrity. That’s thanks to the all-star STEM team of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Hanks Pym and McCoy. Reed Richards warns Spidey that Maguire, now Alpha, has potential for growing near limitless power and can become a bigger threat than even the Hulk.
Alpha is in his starting days as a superhero becoming a corporate mascot and getting intimate with a girl he likes in school. Maguire also shows up the Fantastic Four. But it’s up to Spidey to train him to become a true, proper superhero.
The core conceit of Amazing Fantasy #15 is how a decent, if socially inept, teenager gains powers. Acting selfishly costs him a father figure thus he turns a new leaf.
As it stands, “Point of Origin” is weak compared to Fantasy. Peter Parker, a nerd you’d want to see succeed, had two responsible caretakers. I barely tolerated apathetic/arrogant Andy Maguire and his immoral parents. When I saw Jackal in the last page, I was relieved that the story’s over instead of thinking of ways to scrape change for next week’s Amazing #693.
Ramos’ anime/manga-style art has some faces appearing to have scars and some poses make the characters almost as rubbery as Reed Richards. There were some odd balloon placements. For example, I could barely see the Human Torch in one panel. I was baffled for a while something in the middle of a fire streak talking.
Whatever plans Marvel has for Alpha, I’m not sold on it. “Origin” does not get this issue off to a good start.
“Spider-Man For a Night”
Story and art by Dean Haspiel. Color art by Giulia Brusco.
Let go back to events of “Spider-Man No More,” after Parker has just thrown his Spider-suit in the trash. An elderly thief sees the costume and decides to don the thread.
With his less-than-impressive physique and tactics, the man learns that it takes more than a costume to be a superhero. There’s some tacked-on sentimentality when the man visits a loved one.
Haspiel, Brusco, and company meant well, but the man’s return to civilian life is unearned. The retro art’s cool but why would an older gentleman wear red Chuck Taylors?
“Night” is slightly better than “Origin.”
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Drawn by Nuno Plati.
Spidey has a series of comedic interludes. The last one, where he encounters a kid being picked on by bullies, captures the essence of Spider-Man the most of the three stories. Spider-Man is completely willing to sacrifice life as Peter Parker to help those in need. Not every instance he tries to save someone ends up happily-ever-after (Spidey interrupts a couple’s argument and has a mishap involving firemen), but he remains a good-natured inspiration to some.
I didn’t even mind Plati’s art. If the art in “Origin” is a 7 on the manga/anime influence scale then Plait’s drawings pueh the needle to 11. Alas, this story, along with heartfelt Spider-Mail letters from Dan Slott and Taimur Dar, do not make this anniversary issue a classic. There are better Spider-Man stories fit for even a mild hooray for Spidey at 50.