Review: Amazing Spider-Man #1.5 – Learned To Crawl
Amazing Spider-Man #1.5 brings to an end the Learning To Crawl mini-series that has been running concurrently with the main Amazing Spider-Man book since its most recent relaunch.
Where the main book occasionally suffers from having to cater to as wide an audience as possible and therefore finds itself lacking in drama, depth and nuance – it’s never too anything so it can appeal to everyone – Dan Slott has taken full advantage of the fact that this miniseries is only going to be bought by more serious fans and made Learning To Crawl a more thoughtful look at the character of Peter Parker and the world he inhabits during his first days as Spider-Man.
Every facet of this book feels more personal and as a result Amazing Spider-Man #1.5 feels like something special for fans of not only Peter, but also of his mythology and supporting cast.
Each issue has had a unique Alex Ross cover and Amazing Spider-Man #1.5 is no different featuring the artist’s signature painted style. Old school Peter stands divided painted half as Peter and half as Spider-Man while the faces of the defining characters in his life circle him.
This issue brings to an end the main plot threads that have run through this miniseries. Key conflicts of the earliest issues take place between the panels, they are mentioned but what we see is a secret origin of sorts that takes place between those issues giving an unseen glimpse into those earliest of times.
Amazing Spider-Man #1.5 looks at Peter’s personal relationship to his new powers, his coming to terms with the responsibility of being a hero and not just being out for himself. His thought process takes him from being a career opportunist to being a legitimate superhero.
Finally, the origin story of new character Clayton Cole, the villain Clash is told. What makes Clash so great is that he acts as a parallel to Spider-Man and represents what could have been Peter’s path had he not had the emotional support from the people around him. This plays out in the issue as Clash starts by disrupting a wrestling event in open mockery of the same thing Spider-Man did on his first night in the costume.
Having been beaten by Clash in their last encounter, Peter resigns himself and we see him in the background taking pictures which he profits from rather than tackling the villain like his conscious dictates he should.
As Peter tries to recollect and better his life away from Spider-Man there are some really personal moments I found to be very relatable. Dan Slott really taps into the conflicted sense of purpose that made Peter Parker’s original format as a teenager so appealing and as popular as the character is today. Quite honestly, the modern Peter Parker can’t even compare as he moves further and further away from this basic set-up that packs in so much nuance.
Ramón Pérez’ art design has a roughly sketched edge to it that in part pays homage in its visual style to early silver age Amazing Spider-Man comics. With the vibrant matte colours provided by Ian Herring a visual audible landscape is created by a combination of creative panel arrangement, circles to form sound waves and in classic comic book tradition block capital words saying Boom, Clak- Ak –Ak, and of course Thwip.
It’s a common place feature but one that feels very well implemented here to compliment Clash’s sounds based abilities. While Clash uses his powers luminous yellows and purples dominate the background. It all comes together to create a look that is very visually pleasing.
More so, Pérez’ design of the original Spider-Man costume looks as good as it ever has right down to the webbed armpit wings and heavily darkened eye patches on the mask.
All of this comes together to bring a real sense of closure to this story and Spider-Man swings forward at the end with a real sense of hope towards what the future may bring.
It is a genuine shame that the main Amazing Spider-Man book cannot be of this quality. This book has made me very aware of editorial mandate and the necessity of mass appeal on the main titles. Dan Slott receives a lot of criticism for this with his Amazing Spider-Man books and we need to understand that he is writing a specific thing that has a specific aim and audience. It’s a business after all. As fans of these characters we have to realise this, and thankfully from time to time creators are allowed to branch out and give us smaller titles like this that really show what their full range is. Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 through #1.5 has been an example of this and has been a pleasure to read from start to finish.