Spider-Man is a contradiction even by the standards of superheroes. He’s a kid at heart, yet haunted by a life of tragedy, a neighborhood hero often enmeshed in problems well above his pay grade, a scientific genius who more often than not finds himself being a simple working stiff. That Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert can manage to bundle all that together in their newly launched Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (Marvel), and not only make it funny, but compelling, says a lot.
The plot is simple: Spidey is back to being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but as always, he’s just one step behind, in everything, from his social life to his superheroics. But things are good, at least. Surely nothing will go wrong out of nowhere for Peter Parker!
Part of the charm is that both Zdarsky and Kubert are intimately aware of Spider-Man’s history, but don’t let their love of the character get in the way of telling the story. Zdarsky, a master of self-deprecating humor, fills the book with little nods to the past without being too inside-baseball, and Kubert in particular has a ball riffing on the style of Steve Ditko, with a skinny Spidey and even a nod to classic Spidey artist John Romita in the last panel.
Spider-Man is, in many ways, the most important superhero, because done right, he’s all of us under the mask. Too often, his comics lose track of that, and seeing that attitude return is a welcome page to turn. Don’t miss it!