This week Peter Parker is OFFICIALLY back as Spider-Man, and we take a trip down to the dirty South with Jason Aaron’s Southern Bastards!
Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
Peter Parker is officially BACK in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Written by longtime Spidey writer Dan Slott and drawn by Humberto Ramos, the new start for Spidey finally brings us some insight into Peter’s feelings about the world around him, even though the main story doesn’t offer us quite as much information as I would’ve liked.
The issue opens with Peter confronting a new group of villains with an animal theme, albeit with a pretty funny twist. We then flash back a few hours to find Peter holding a press conference outside of Parker Industries, the company Otto Octavius formed while in Peter’s body. Peter’ s inner monologue is very entertaining here, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him act like he knows what he’s doing when he clearly has no idea how to run a major corporation. Eventually Peter decides to clear his head by swinging through the city, which brings us full circle to the opening of the issue. After taking care of the rookie crooks, Peter returns to his apartment to find Anna Maria, the woman Otto was dating as “Peter”, sitting on the couch, declaring that she knows Peter is Spider-Man (I won’t spoil how, but it’s pretty clever).
Dan Slott’s script is a lot of fun, and it’s clear that he’s having a blast re-inserting Peter back into this universe. However, as much as I liked this issue, I felt that it was over too soon. Yes, there are a plethora of back up stories that tease upcoming events of the series, but to be honest, I feel like they would’ve been more effective if they had been inserted into the main narrative. Instead they feel tacked on and not as connected to the main story of the issue as they should be. Despite this, Slott’s characterization of Peter is as good as it was “pre-Otto”, and the reactions of the different heroes and supporting cast watching his battle with the new villains on TV and the Internet was pretty hilarious.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 is Humberto Ramos’ strongest issue on a Spider title in quite some time. Sometimes I find his cartoony style to be a bit too much, but here it’s a perfect fit. Maybe this is because Peter is back, so his art fits more with the tone of the book, but I honestly couldn’t find a single panel that struck me as off. Other members of the Spider-Man art team, including Guisseppe Camuncoli and Marcos Martin, draw all the back up tales, and they do a very good job as well (although my favorite was the Black Cat story by Camuncoli).
While I wish Amazing Spider-Man’s new number one issue had more answers and revelations into Peter’s new lease on life, I still enjoyed the issue. But I should warn those who weren’t already planning on picking up this issue that it costs a whopping $6. Yes, you get a ton of bonus content (including the full debut issue of Inhuman for some reason), but those of us who have been following the ongoing Otto/Peter Spider-Man saga may be a little disappointed in their purchase. I should also mention that this will be the last Amazing Spider-Man issue that I’ll review for a while. I know I’ve been reviewing a Spidey book almost every time it comes out, so it’s time to give the old wall crawler a break.
But anyways, welcome back Mr. Parker, it’s good to see you again….I hope you don’t break my heart later this week.
Southern Bastards #1 (Image Comics)
As someone who just recently finished Scalped, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Jason Aaron’s return to the dirty South. Well, I’m happy to say that Southern Bastards does not disappoint. Alongside occasional Scalped artist Jason Latour, Bastards is a look into the small town, backwoods South, and it’s absolutely fantastic. The opening issue follows Earl Tubb, an older man who’s returning to his hometown of Craw County to pack up his old family home. Tubb’s father is a local hero for being the town Sheriff, but the younger Tubb’s been out of Craw County for decades, and is dreading returning home. After this issue, I can see why.
Southern Bastards is full of characters that you can instantly recognize as the kind of scumbags that never leave a certain area and cause trouble with every breath they take. Jason Aaron’s script features some pretty great surprises, and contains amazingly well defined characters that evoke his previous work on Scalped, but are also strong enough to stand on their own. The tonal connection between this and Scalped is so strong that I wouldn’t be surprised if we ever see Shunka, Red Crow, or even Dashiell Bad Horse pop up in this series.
Jason Latour’s art is also fantastic, and creates such an awesome sense of mood and grit that you swear you’ll be able to feel the sticky humidity of the south. His art evokes his previous work on Scalped, but also moody TV shows like True Detective. Southern Bastards’ opening issue is a fantastic debut, and it’s an absolute must by for not only fans of Scalped, but fans of good comics as well.
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