Spider-Man may be one of the most enticing Spidey reads in some time. That’s thanks to J.J. Abrams taking on the series with his son Henry and Sara Pichelli backing him up. One of, if not the, biggest movie directors writing comics for the first time and it’s Spider-Man? Talk about exciting. The first issue was good but not perfect; I was holding out hope the series would flesh itself out and in this second issue it does, but does it do enough to innovate and capture your interest? (Before diving in check out the preview, which gives you a good idea of what the Abrams are doing.)
The quick answer is not really. The series continues to be rather ordinary revealing Peter’s son Ben as a hero seemingly from birth. He only realized he has powers recently, but he’s quite good at getting himself into situations where saving folks is kind of his thing. The book weaves together three plots, the first being Ben going on a bit of an adventure with a girl from school. Another is Peter on an international shoot shooting photography in a wartorn area, and the third is Cadaverous plotting to take out Ben. Aside from how Peter is depicted, there isn’t a lot here that’s interesting or new. Ben discovers his heroic side in this issue to the surprise of no one and per usual his parental figures aren’t too happy about it. The usual tropes are at work here.
The new characters aren’t very interesting either. Cadaverous is a scary-looking villain who talks to himself in his secret lair and that’s about it. We’ve yet to learn enough about this guy to understand his anger or why he bothers at all with his plans. I’m still holding out hope we learn enough about this guy that he’ll matter, but so far he’s still being played up as a mystery.
Meanwhile the new girl Ben met named Faye drops a surprise on Ben that’s not all that interesting. I guess she stands up for social injustices but so far her character is so paper-thin she’s basically a cliche. The oddest thing about her is how her character seems tied to the notion that Ben and his powers are great. By the end of the issue, she’s enamored with Ben because of the little adventure she goes on with him which makes the narrative feel like a young boy’s dream. It’s like a child’s fantasy.
Two bits of dialogue ends up being somewhat interesting. The first involves Faye reflecting on the “With great power” speech. She flips it, which isn’t exactly innovative, but it’s a nice way of looking at it. The second involves Ben’s first rescue who hits the nail on the head on what happened to Ben’s father when he was Spider-Man. It’s a fun way to point out a bit of truth.
Two issues in and this series aren’t doing anything we haven’t seen before. It’s also rather flat in its characterizations. It’s not complex or deep in any way and instead is boring at face value.