Review: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #301


This blast to the past nails the feeling of vintage Spider-Man and offers a playful look at how far this character has come.

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciler: Joe Quinones
Inker: Joe Rivera
Colorist: Jordan Gibson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Joe Quinones

Revisiting Peter Parker’s early years isn’t exactly the most novel idea. In fact, I’d argue it happens too much. From Untold Tales of Spider-Man to Ultimate Spider-Man to all three cinematic iterations thus far, nobody will let Spidey move past Pete the high school hero. Those early Ditko years have a unique personality, and later works by Busiek and Bendis are also wonderful in their own way. However, I honestly tire of these rehashes. I’d rather revisit Peter as college student or married man, especially in the era of Miles Morales.

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That being stated, the first issue of this “Amazing Fantasy” arc rules.

Chip Zdarsky’s Marvel work has consistently demonstrated both affection for Spider-Man and laughter for his sillier tropes. Both extremes surfaced in the likes of Marvel Two-in-One and Howard the Duck, and they collide beautifully here. And, that balance is what elevates this issue from tedious rehash to absolute delight.

We see this from the very first page, with present day Pete pointing out how much Stan’s Spidey talked to himself. When the younger Webhead assumes the worst and initially attacks his older self, our Peter catches him and comments on his short fuse. These jokes highlight the character’s classic cliches, but they also allow us to see how much he’s grown. He’s still a blend of confidence and uncertainty, dripping with quips, but he has much better perspective and understanding of himself. Jameson’s interaction with his past self also demonstrates some growth (and fun), showing that maturation never fully ends.

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All of this would work with any competent artwork, but this issue’s art is more than competent. Joe Quinones and Joe Rivera put in some of their best work, especially with these two Spider-Men. The younger Pete blends the work of Blumenreich and Bagley, with a costume ripped right out of a Ditko issue. Tom Holland likely influenced his look as well. Meanwhile, older Pete channels Romita with a dash of the 90s animated series. No matter who your definitive Spider-Man is, you’ll see some of him in here.

A+. . Chip Zdarksy, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Jordan Gibson. . Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man #301

This short arc will have to tie in closer to the series’ larger narrative, which is fine. Zdarsky’s storyline has been a fun ride with some entertaining twists and turns. I’m certainly curious if Teresa Durand’s conversation with old Nick Fury leads to any thrilling developments. Still, what makes this series such a constant joy is the personality Chip gives these characters and this world. I fully expect the rest of “Amazing Fantasy” and whatever’s next to continue that trend.