“Back to Basics” continues this week as Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley give Peter Parker the fresh start many wanted (and some of us needed!). Last issue ended with a whopper of a reveal and has made Spider-Man purists very happy indeed. In this second chapter, Spencer focuses on the Lizard and the strange new relationship he’s building with Peter Parker. Oh, and there are more twists too.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
Spider-Man is no longer a rich owner of a corporation with his name on the building. He’s no longer a science editor. Heck, he’s no longer miserable with life. The character is revitalized and ready for what is to come even though he hasn’t been this poor since the ’90s. It’s the classic Parker-style Spider-Man we all know and love.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Spider-Man reflecting on the natural order of things and how for him things couldn’t be better. This is juxtaposed with him getting an uppercut from a villain who is attempting to rob a book drive. The opening is a nice reminder of how Spider-Man always remains hopeful and positive even in the face of literal doom. This carries well into a Mary Jane scene that’s so angelic and positive one might assume Peter Parker is in heaven. He’s not — this is real, and he’s happier than ever.
Much of the rest of this book is set at Empire State University where Lizard is teaching a class. These scenes are quite clever in how they juggle the long and spotty relationship Peter has had with Lizard as well as call back to a very important origin story moment for Spider-Man. You can tell Spencer and Ottley have a great respect for Spider-Man and it shows in how this story is calling back to the character’s history. Even the twist ending calls back to Spider-Man history (and should have longtime fans anxiously nervous), keeping this book strong in its ingenuity, but also present in its newness.
Ottley’s lines are quite clean and suit this character very well. More than once I would admire how Ottley would play with the shape of Spider-Man’s mask or the wrinkly detail of Lizard’s face. The scene with Mary Jane is perfect and should warm Mary Jane/Peter fans’ hearts. The color by Laura Martin is particularly great in this scene as it’s so warm you can feel the love.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The plotting is a bit off in this issue. The last issue left off with Lizard, but the first eight pages of this issue are taking place presumably before that scene ever happened. The very first page doesn’t help matters since it appears to be taking place in Africa with some elephants. There’s a message to be had here, but it can be confusing as to why it’s there exactly. I flipped back and forth a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed something.
Is it good?
This second issue continues to help define what the new creative team is up to with Spider-Man. There is an excellent balance of new ideas while also looking back with a wink to the past. This is a love letter to longtime fans while it builds new stories too.