When it was first announced that Spider-Man would become a mentor to a powerful young hero and take him on as a sidekick, it sounded as if we were going to see some big time changes in the pages of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Through events similar to what happened to Peter Parker, Andrew Maguire soon gained extremely powerful powers and abilities and became known as Alpha. Rather than see the typical story of the character immediately using those powers to do good or seek revenge against anyone that bullied or picked on him. Instead, he used his powers to gain popularity, fame and fortune. Isn't that what a lot of kids would consider?
Alpha was immediately seen as an annoying character. He was meant to be. That was the role he played. He was a teenager with immense powers and a possible threat to the world. His story ended with Spider-Man (and Peter Parker) removing (most of) his powers. Alpha had to give up everything he just gained and was forced to be a normal kid again with the possibility of having his powers return.
That's where Joshua Hale Fialkov's series comes in. Andrew is now living in Philadelphia. Despite being in a new school, it's no secret who he briefly was. You can imagine how the other kids will treat him. This is a kid that used his powers for as much personal gain as he could. He fell from grace in the biggest way possible. His big mistake was not having a secret identity. This series is dealing with the aftermath.
Fialkov does a great job depicting the high school dynamics. He has the difficult job writing a comic based on a kid many quickly grew to hate and capturing our interest. Fialkov manages to do this right away. Alpha may have been extremely annoying but that's part of being a teenager. You're still learning right from wrong. In a world where superpowers are possible, the temptation to use those powers and live in the moment would be something many teens would find hard to resist.
Of course when Alpha had his powers taken away, Peter told him it was possible they'd return someday. This meant he could get it all back but would have to think about the mistakes he made. Many great stories are about redemption and this could be Alpha's.
The strange thing about the original story is there was the first impression that this was going to be the status quo for a while. It felt like Spider-Man would be dealing with, or struggling to deal with Alpha as his sidekick. The story was quickly resolved after just three issues. It felt like there was room to explore his character more rather than wipe him off the board immediately. That's the opportunity this series has. A lot of readers might not have been immediately drawn to him but there is something about a flawed character and the act of trying to seek out redemption.
Fialkov also has something else to deal with. Alpha has to return to Horizon Labs in New York every couple weeks to get tested to see if his powers are returning or at a dangerous level. Because it was and accident during Peter Parker's experiment, he's the one conducting the tests. But we all know Peter Parker isn't exactly the same person he was when these two last met. That means Fialkov gets to deal with this slightly different version of Peter Parker and there's going to obviously be some repercussions occurring here.
In Alpha's first appearances, the issues were drawn by Humberto Ramos. As you know, he has a distinctive style and it's easy to associate that look as Alpha's. Ramos even does the cover for the issue. The interior art is by Nuno Plati. At first I was a little unsure how I felt about it. Reading over the issue again, it started to grow on me. I'm familiar with Plati's art from other comics. Something just threw me off at first.
Is it possible to enjoy a comic about a character you didn't like at first? Josh Fialkov makes it possible. In many ways, Alpha is more realistic than most of the other teen heroes we see in comics. He had a great opportunity and messed up...big time. Part of life is about making mistakes and learning from them. With the power Alpha had, he had the potential to be an extremely powerful hero. Now it's just a matter of trying to figure out what the right path is if he is given a second chance. His story felt like it came to an abrupt ending in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. It'll be great to see what the next chapter holds for him.
Fialkov's stories aren't ones you should take lightly. He's known for throwing major curveballs at readers. This issue sets up what comes next for the kid superhero that almost had it all. He may have made mistakes and is trying to avoid new ones. That doesn't mean he won't make more.
ALPHA: BIG TIME #1 goes on sale February 12, 2013.