Peter Parker is back as the Amazing Spider-Man! He has regained his body from Doctor Octopus and is trying to cope with the life that the he has left him. He has a new company (Parker Industries), a doctorate and a “girlfriend” by the name of Anna Maria Marconi… who has just revealed that she knows he is Spider-Man!
Prelude. Today: A woman lives in a room with no windows, but years’ worth of food and videotapes of Spider-Man. She chooses a meal, a tape of Spider-Man and Electro’s second fight and fires a web from her fingertips to switch the lights off. She settles in to watch, knowing that Spider-Man is Peter Parker…! As does Anna Maria Marconi! Peter explains the events of the last few months and that she actually fell in love with Doctor Octopus. Anna decides to bake as she takes all of this in. Peter explains that Otto loved her very much. She puts the cookies in the oven and goes for a walk, asking Peter to take them out after 22 minutes. His phone chimes (Otto has changed it to Beethoven’s Fifth!) – The Avengers want a word! Over in the West Village, Max Dillon/Electro pays a visit to his “friend” Francine. After he destroyed the prison, he has nowhere else to go. She takes him in, though he warns her that his powers are acting up. Spider-Man brings cookies to The Avengers. Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Woman question his recent actions and the reason why he’s wearing sweatpants (Otto changed the formula of his webbing to make it last longer and now the webbed underwear from last issue are stuck to him!). Spidey explains and, after several medical tests, Iron Man confirms he is who he says he is. Captain America says that they had to be sure after the venom symbiote incident (Superior Spider-Man #22-25) and accidentally reveals that Agent Venom is Flash Thompson. Spider-Man punches Captain America, furious that he didn’t tell him that Venom was Flash but Cap explains that his identity was secret and it had to be upheld. Spidey accepts this and wonders how to deal with it. Cap tells him not to worry and to sort his sweatpants out! Spidey swings to Parker Industries and changes out of costume. He meets Sajani Jeffrey who announces that the Nano-Tech Cybernetic Robots that Peter said he’d fix have got worse. Peter doesn’t know what to do as they were Otto’s designs. Luckily, Anna Maria is on hand and she demands to speak to Peter straight away. Sajani isn’t leaving, so Anna lies that she is pregnant to get rid of her. Anna knows how to fix the problem as Otto explained it to her. Meanwhile, Electro discusses his power with Francine and figures that it all boils down to Spider-Man’s experiments on him (in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #5-7). Francine is not worried and kisses him! Electricity crackles ferociously and Francine is killed! Electro screams in anguish! Back at Parker Industries, Anna begins to explain how her life has changed because of Otto. Peter promises her a job and invites her to stay with him whilst she looks for a place. She accepts the deal, with him taking the couch. There is a sudden blackout and an enormous surge of electrical energy from the West Village! They know it must be Electro. Peter needs Anna one more time as she gives him a solvent to get his webbed underwear off! Electro is tearing the West Village apart! Spider-Man wings in and dodges all of his electrical blasts! He tries to reason with him, offering his help to control his powers, but Electro blames him for everything that has happened! Amidst the onlookers are a depowered Johnny Storm/Human Torch and a disguised Black Cat. Spider-Man leads Electro towards a fire hydrant in an attempt to short him out but it fails to erupt when it should (thanks to Black Cat using her powers to pay back Electro for releasing her from the prison). It then does erupt and a bit of water catches Electro and he makes his escape. Spider-Man, soaked through, gets a text from Johnny and they arrange a meeting. Spider-Man waits atop the Statue Of Liberty. Johnny arrives and calls him down (as he can’t fly up). Johnny has heard about the mind swap and likens the experience to when he “died” in the Negative Zone. He also brings him a flash drive with all the TV, music and movies he’s missed. They overlook the ruins of Spider-Island and Peter hatches a plan… At Parker Industries, explaining that he has years of counter measures up his sleeve and that their cybernetics push is now on hold, their new project is to trap and depower Electro and to build a new super villain prison!
There is a lot to like about this second issue, mainly the fact that it is understated. Whereas Superior Spider-Man often ploughed through developments and arcs with only a scattering of emotional beats and conversation, Amazing Spider-Man #2 has plenty of that and it is a strength.
Dan Slott allows time to explore the altered relationships between Peter, Anna Maria, The Avengers, Johnny Storm, Electro and the folks at Parker Industries. The scenes with Anna Maria are the most compelling because they aren't at all awkward. Slott finally makes her fascinating with her reactions to Peter and unexpected level-headedness that is a brave move on his part. She knows the secret and is dealing with it well.
The scene with The Avengers is all well and good, but the emphasis on Spidey punching Captain America is overblown and unnecessary. In fact, it ruins the whole sequence and stands out from the rest of the well-planned emotional beats throughout the issue as being truly overemotional.
The other sequence that lets the issue down is Electro. Once again his powers are out of control and once again he's furious with Spider-Man. Understandable, and Slott does reference the back up in #1 and events in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, but I'm waiting for a truly different take on Electro. Mark Waid did a wonderful job of this in Amazing Spider-Man #612-614. Slott may get there though, as this little scene is only designed to be set up, but the other problem with it is Humberto Ramos's overcomplicated panels. There is simply too much electricity going on and is massively distracts from action, movement and character form. It just needs toning down a little and is, visually, his weakest work of the issue.
The rest of the issue looks brilliant. Ramos's continues his understated, and less angular, style here and it really benefits the tone of the issue.
Even the ending, so usually a spectacular, dramatic and often typical cliff hanger, is understated in both its delivery and content. It moves characters and direction forward in a plain and simple way and sometimes that is all that is needed.
Although there are a few problems with delivery, the exploration of character is good and this reads as a nice stepping stone for the future.