The rationale behind splitting "Amazing Spider-Man" into one book was simple in its elegance. You’re reading about one guy, so instead of three monthly comics, why not one?
While the stripping-down of Spider-Man may have worked for some, there are still some willing to buy spin-offs and peripheral titles. And "Peter Parker" #1 is, in part, aiming for that market – but it’s not quite a backtrack on Marvel’s original promise. Rather than being a trail for a second Spider-Man ongoing, it’s actually a collection of online-exclusive “back-up” strips written by Bob Gale, formerly a member of the core Spider-Man writing team, which focus (loosely) on Peter Parker’s civilian life.
This first collection contains the oldest stories, so the status quo is slightly outdated, referring to events that occurred back in October/November last year. Gale’s writing style is a little more traditional than most of the spider-writers, in that he uses omniscient narration and -- shock -- thought bubbles, and this often led to his issues jarring with the others. Within the confines of his own title, though, it works fine.
Similarly, Patrick Olliffe’s work on "Spider-Girl," it’s fair to say, often looked like it belonged to a much earlier era, but with the brilliant colouring of Antonio Fabela adds depth and detail that makes it look bang up to date.
Story-wise, things largely relate to Peter’s relationship with his roommate, Michelle, and his situation working at the Mayor’s office. Gale clearly understands the schadenfreude of Peter’s life, in which no good deed goes unpunished, and in that sense the comic is a fun read, although one can only hope that the new costumed villain is a deliberate attempt to ape the crazier Spider-Man villains of the 70s, because his power (as shown) doesn’t seem to pose much of a threat, or even offer much practical application, let alone a criminal one.
A multi-page backup by Fred Hembeck and some behind-the-scenes material rounds out the book, and the resultant package is fairly good. Undeniably, it’s worth having the material in print, but it’s hard not to feel like it’s a bit late to be releasing this as anything more than a curio for the regular “Amazing” buyers. That being the case, well, it probably could have gotten away with being an arc in the series itself, rather than tucked away online or in a miniseries where, one suspects, very few people will actually bother to read it.