As with any Spider-Man anniversary, a retelling of the origin is required. This is summarized in a single page, written by Fred Van Lente, and with art of Misters Romita Jr, Janson and White. Even though it was only a single page, it’s always great to see John Romita Jr. doing artwork, and the concise retelling of the origin was done to perfection.
And reliving Peter’s origin takes us to the main story written by Dan Slott and art by Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba. This anniversary story takes us back to the beginning in Amazing Fantasy #15 by introducing a similar concept as to the first page… responsibility, and a science accident providing power to an unsuspecting teenager. While showcasing a science experiment to a visiting high school class, an experiment conceived by Peter Parker goes wrong and energy from the device hits young Andy Maguire. Immediately after the incident he exhibits powers he never had before while saving a young lady that Andy had a crush on, showing off a little and moving beyond his mediocre life. For Andy, he is now noticed and that is – to him – the “Best! Day! EVER!”.
To analyze the power that he has received, several specialists are called in: Reed Richard, Hank Pym, Henry McCoy and Tony Stark. They identify Andy as being the first Alpha level power they have encountered. (Perspective: The Phoenix and Sentry are Omega level – not as powerful as Andy has the ability to become.) Of course, there is concern. Peter takes Andy under his wing (in other words, Alpha is learning from Spider-Man) in order to teach him the ultimate Spidey adage – “With great power comes great responsibility.” But, with a yearning to show off, Alpha jumps right into the fray and takes out the Mole Man’s main monster Giganto while spouting the familiar phrase “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” (Which ticks off Ben Grimm to no end…)
So we have a new hero, associated with Peter Parker, whose biology and body chemistry have changed as a result of the incident. Which leads to the reintroduction of the next arc’s villain (whom I won’t mention here as I’ve spoiled enough). In other words, we’ve gone full circle, from Peter learning via an accident that he needs to take his power with great reverence, and now through another accident he has to approach it from another perspective. It’s a strong story point and shows how much Peter has grown – from cocky teenager to a man who takes on the responsibilities demanded of him, but is still human and makes mistakes. It’s a new take on the Spider-Man origin with someone else in the role of obtaining power, and gives Spider-Man an official sidekick (other ones in the past don’t really count).
The next story is written by Dean Haspiel with art by Giulia Brusco. It is a Spider-Man story, without the real Spider-Man. At one point, Peter quits being Spider-Man and dumps his costume. A thief finds the costume and uses it to disguise himself to commit more robberies. You’d think it was your typical robbery, but no. It’s a story of humanity, as true Spider-Man stories have always been, showing what’s in the heart of the character. It’s only 8 pages long, but it gives the reader a new perspective into how heroes are perceived and the inspiration they can bring to others.
Finally, we have a story written by Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Nuno Plati. It has Spider-Man having a typical bad day but with a scene we’ve never seen before: his pants getting caught on fire. Not only does he have the costume mishap, he has Ben Grimm finding pigeons literally taking a dump on him. But he then gets to show a kid who’s lost in a new world – the new kid in the city – that it’s not the end of everything and his problems are ones that Peter wishes he would have instead of his super-villain attacks. He shows the kid some excitement and introduces him to New York, what’s great about it, and brings the kid’s spirits up to be happy of where he is. And the best bit of the story? We get to see the Spider-Mobile (which most readers probably don’t remember).
All in all, this was a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the web slinger. Not only did we get several strong stories, but we got the origin retold in a way that makes it all new – not just the same rehashed story from someone else’s point of view with a new twist tossed in. Spidey stayed solid, but the inexperience of back then is now projected onto another kid who is given the power to be a hero or villain, depending on how he chooses to use it. Dan Slott has stated that this story may make people hate him, as Spidey has never had a sidekick, but how do you make an idea fresh again? A slight twist but remembering the past. This is setting the tone for what is leading up to issue #700 which will be another milestone – and I’ll try to be back to report on that one!