Marvel Action: Spider-Man gets yet another reboot, as a brand new volume of the series launches, yet seems to lose everything that made the previous ones enjoyable.
The series began a few years ago, and saw a new continuity where Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey, and Miles Morales were students at school together, and were all secretly spider-themed heroes. Starting out on their own, the three of them came together to form a crime-fighting trio, and took on newly re-imagined versions of some of the classic Spider-Man villains. It was a pretty fun series, one that had some cool reinventions of characters, and had some good stories.
This new volume seems to have started by doing completely its own thing, and has thrown the previous title’s continuity out, starting afresh. This time there’s no Gwen or Miles, and the series focuses solely on Peter, who’ a student at OCSOT, the Oscorp Charter School of Technology. This school is owned and operated by the tech company Oscorp, which fans will be aware of is the company run by Spidey villain Normal Osborne, AKA The Green Goblin. Not only that, but the school is staffed by other villains, with Prnicipal Octavius (Doctor Octopus), and Matt Gargan (The Scorpion) as the gym teacher.
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This is, honestly, a strange choice, and coupled with the decision to make Peter seem younger, and more inexperienced as Spider-Man, it makes this feel like some kind of strange middle-school drama rather than a Spider-Man comic. The art style also plays into this, with the book taking on a very stylised and Saturday Morning Cartoon look to it.
I understand that the Marvel Action comics have always been designed for younger readers, and I have nothing against that, but the previous volumes always felt like they were written for every age group; that they were books that children and adults alike would be able to pick up and enjoy. In contrast, this feels like it’s gone in a very different direction, and is catering purely to the younger readers. Whilst I’m sure that younger readers will like what’s on offer here, I wonder if the book itself might suffer a little if it’s unable to retain some of the older readers too.
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Thanks to the wildly different tone and setting, one that feels a lot weaker than the previous title, I didn’t really enjoy the book that much. The characters felt less developed, even for a first issue, and I was left with the impression that as it is being geared towards the younger readers these characters are going to be broader archetypes rather than more nuanced characters with evolving personalities. The artwork is perfectly fine, but the panels look more like screenshots from an animated series than a comic, and whilst there’s nothing really wrong with the art in the book, the hyper-stylised way it’s presented feels a little strange, and a lot of the backgrounds and environments feel very flat in comparison to the characters.
Whilst this book will probably appeal to some young Spider-Man fans, those hoping to continue the adventures of Peter, Gwen, and Miles are going to be disappointed at the dramatic change presented in this book.
Marvel Action: Spider-Man #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.