Dancing between the raindrops and story beats in the earliest days of the modern Marvel Universe, "Amazing Spider-Man" #1.2, from writer Dan Slott and artist Ramón Pérez checks in on Spidey's first meeting with the Fantastic Four and his first battle with the Chameleon. This isn't a retelling of events from those early issues of "Amazing Spider-Man," but more of a companion piece, helping inform readers of the behavioral transformations both Peter Parker and Spider-Man endured.
Ramon Pérez's artwork resonates with the groundbreaking work that Steve Ditko brought to the earliest issues of Spider-Man's adventures. Spidey's costume is not ridiculously taut spandex over his muscular frame, quite the contrary actually. Pérez makes it quite clear that under the Spider-Man get-up, puny Peter Parker is still, well, puny. And awkward. And a teenager. The artist draws expressions he has honed on such efforts as "Kukuburi" and "Butternut Squash." Those animated faces and characters are well-suited to a brighter, simpler time in Spider-Man's formative years. Colorist Ian Herring amplifies the expressiveness of Pérez's art with a bold, vivid color palette that fills negative space with emotion as much as it describes the outfit Clash is wearing.
It's clear that Dan Slott is using this tale-between-tales to accomplish a pair of agendas: seeding Spider-Man's history with more characters and stories to draw from; and showing readers how Spider-Man transforms from a money-grubbing sellout into a true hero in the Marvel Universe. This is the story beyond any sort of wishy-washy-wavy dream montage where Peter reflects on his dead uncle's advice and wakes up vowing to be a better person, this is Peter realizing what steps he needs to take to become that person, even if it sucks in the short run. As always, Slott has a strong grasp on the workings that make Peter Parker tick and uses those foibles to his advantage.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #1.2 may come across as a luxury. After all, it tells a story between stories that have been re-told and re-published many times over the last half-century, but it truly is a fresh adventure for Peter Parker and his surrounding cast. If you're like me and clock in to your comic book reading sometime after Spider-Man's title climbed into triple digits (or his brand expanded into more than one title) then you may recall the first time you saw those first issues, whether they were reprinted in "Marvel Tales" or another single issue or collected in a trade, such as "Origins of Marvel Comics" or "Sons of Marvel Origins." This series delivers the closest thing to that vibe, as Slott's story digs into the past emotionally and Pérez's art pays fine tribute to Ditko's creativity. This is a luxury, but like all great luxuries, it's one that you'll truly appreciate indulging in.