So, to recap, J. Michael Straczynski had a brilliant run on Spider-Man, in which he treated Spider-Man as an actual adult — he lived in the city with his wife, he taught high school, he had joined the Avengers and was learning to work as part of a team before being forced underground by the Cvil War stuff — and then he was forced to ruin it all with a stupid devil ex machina that undid his marriage.
Now we start over with Dan Slott’s and Marc Guggenheim’s Spider-Man: Brand New Day, vol. 1 . What’s Peter’s unwedded life like? Oh, he’s living at home with his Aunt May, working as a photographer at the Bugle, hanging out with Harry Osborn at a coffee shop, and running out of web fluid (they undid the change that gave him biological web shooters for some reason too).
Does this sound sort of familiar, sort of 1968-ish? Yes, yes it motherfucking does. This is the most transparently nostalgia-driven reboot ever, driving Peter Parker back to pseudo-adolescence so that the aging editors of Marvel can try to recapture their own fading memories of their youth. Gah, it pisses me off.
And the worst line, the single worst line in the whole thing is when Peter or Harry makes a remark about Gwen Stacy dying “a few years ago.” Now, rationally I know that this really is canon, and a normal consequence of Marvel’s bizarre compressed timeline (which pretends that everything has occurred roughly in the last ten years, which is why superheroes aren’t retirement age); but irrationally, it makes it sound like they really are trying to just forget the several last decades of Spider-Man. Oh, and in an afterword, they mention that they toyed with the idea of bringing Gwen back from the dead and decided not to “for now.” So I guess at least they didn’t maximally piss me off.
All that said, I do have to admit that Slott and Guggenheim do a credible job of writing old-school Spider-Man. Light, witty, and very very reminiscent of the past. If you can get past the editorial stupidity and the slap in the face of JMS, you’ll enjoy the book. Maybe it’s best if you just pretend that this is Semi-Ultimate Spider-Man and actually a totally different character than the guy they’ve been writing since 2000. In fact, I think that’s what I’m going to do from now on.
As a side note, these books never once mentioned the whole Avengers thing. What the heck is going on with that? As far as I know, Spider-Man is still a member, but that doesn’t seem to fit with this new conception at all.