AMAZING SPIDER-MAN may have ended its ongoing run, but fans of the Peter Parker variety of friendly neighborhood hero can enjoy a five-issue flashback miniseries, numbered in decimals tacked onto #700. The first and second installments are brought to us by David Morrell and Klaus Janson, with other teams and stories appearing in the remaining three.
It's an immediately familiar story; the Peter Parker we're used to is present right away, and the book is completely on-tone. Peter saves the day, again and again, but is angsty about never being able to do enough. He has a tough time balancing his daily life with his Spidey-life, and finds himself awkwardly defending his own alter ego to a Spider-skeptical J Jonah Jameson. There's nothing particularly revelatory going on, but I'm not sure that anyone's looking for that in a flashback miniseries (bonus: the relatively baseline story is also extremely accessible to new readers who might only have a movie or two for context).
The story isn't the only aspect of ASM #700.1 that feels classic. Klaus Janson's art is timeless, and Steve Buccellato's colors are just right. Everything is visually clean; there's enough texture and interesting lighting to avoid blandness, but nothing gets in the way of Janson's linework. It's welcoming, and easy to look at. If the point of these 700._ issues is to conjure up sweet nostalgia for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, it's definitely doing that on the visual and storytelling fronts.
I've always enjoyed stories that explore the nature of a superhero's powers, and while "Frost" doesn't dive too deep, Peter's musings on the weakness/exhaustion of spiders in winter are interesting. Seeing Spider-Man in (effective) hibernation is a cold reminder of what a city looks like without its heroes, and pulling Aunt May into the danger zone makes it pointedly about New York without Peter in the Spidey-suit.
#700.1 is only the first issue of a two-part arc, so I'll chalk quite a bit of this up to impatience, but I was hoping to see a hint of a big bad. It's hard to tell if Peter will get to face off against a supervillain in "Frost," or if this is a smaller-scale flashback centered on Peter/Spidey and the city and people he loves. (Alas, the solicits aren't much help!) I'm hoping for some big action, just because a bland story doesn't entirely suit a "comeback."
Peter Parker's return to current Marvel comics (alas, not in ongoing format for now) feels very comfortable and classic, and "Frost" sets up a charmingly familiar-feeling story that's great for ASM fans and Spidey novices alike. There's nothing bombastic going on here; just Spider-Man doing his thing, looking out for Aunt May and the city of New York, and trying his best to be a hero during a winter slump. It's a nice winter read; cozy and familiar, and perfect for chilly weather and Peter Parker nostalgia.