Cover Artists: Corin Howell & Brian Reber; George Pérez & Alex Sinclair; Clarice “Saowee’ Menguito
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Release Date: August 2, 2023
Writer: Erica Schultz
Artist: Julian Shaw
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Writer: Celeste Bronfman
Artist: David López
Colorist: KJ Díaz
A transplant from Milwaukee discovers why, as she tells her mother, New York City has a superhero on every corner. Not even birthday parties are safe in the Big Apple! What can Spidey do to protect people on the streets and in their homes? Let’s fwip into Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 and find out!
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Peter’s flying through the streets when he notices a demon harassing a woman from Milwaukee. After the fight, Spider-Man tracks the miscreant back to Limbo Embassy. His attempt to capture Demon Daddy sends both crashing inside. Naturally, this initiates more fighting as the miscreant’s fellows take umbrage at Peter’s intrusion. Amid the chaos, Hallows’ Eve slips into Chasm’s cell and tries to free him.
At first glance, Spider-Man seems incidental to Erica Schultz’s story. But the careful reader will notice the links I missed on my first read-through. I should have been reading Marvel’s Hallow’s Eve series (and perhaps the X-Men), as Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 made me realize how much I’ve missed Janine, Ben Reilly, and Madelyne Pryor since Dark Web Finale #1. The ill-fated lovers’ saga continues while the Goblin Queen discovers that ruling a kingdom is less fun than chicanery. Madelyne’s weariness over the tedium—and her solution to Spider-Man’s intrusion—is understandable. One can only imagine her pain for her fellow mutants’ suffering after the events of X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1.
Julian Shaw kicks panels into high gear in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Characters show spark and individuality, and he captures motion well. Sometimes the demons’ features look fuzzy. That’s a shame, as they’ve got a spunky appearance. I especially liked Peter’s Spider-Glider. While I’ve been reading this series for ten months, Julian’s take on Bug made me sit up and take notice. I also loved the way the Limbo Embassy rose above NYC’s crowded skyline and the architectural design of its halls and rooms.
After enjoying his coloring on Valiant titles like Bloodshot, Ninjak, and Rai, Andrew Dalhouse’s contribution to Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 was a pleasant surprise. Intense, bright colors gave ample contrast to outside scenes. The way he gradually faded the background colors was a nice touch. Characters usually stand out inside the embassy, and he makes Hallows’ Eve and Chasm pop. I wish he could have made the walls, columns, and spiky ceilings brighter and less gray.
After Erica Schultz’s twenty-page story, Celeste Bronfman’s ten-pager gets off to a rocky start in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. At least it did for me, as I missed the Spider symbol that stood in for The End. The lack of titles for either story and editor Nick Lowe’s decision to leave the second story credits for the final page tricked me into thinking this constituted a continuation of Spider-Man’s Limbo Embassy chicanery. Still, after a page or two, I remembered that annuals often include multiple stories. The difference in art styles also helped.
Mary Jane and her beau Paul throw a birthday party for her aunt Anna Watson. Sadly, chaos erupts due to events spinning out of X-Men Hellfire Gala #1, which editor Nick Lowe insists, “I’m telling you, stuff went down!” While Spider-Man plays the hero, the story doesn’t show Peter at his best. Or how about the peeps at the bakery who wrote “Happy Earth Day, Anna” on the cake? Peter suggests it was a misunderstanding, but Earth Day only happens once a year. Or do people celebrate personal Earth Days? Is that a thing? In any case, I can’t imagine it taking more than a few minutes for the decorators to fix the mistake. Also, Mary Jane’s solution works so rapidly that I had trouble believing this tale.
David López’s characters are appealing and convey motion believably in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. I had trouble interpreting emotions in a few scenes, and most panels could have benefitted from more background elements. Perhaps a bolder palette would have enriched the party scenes. Still, those set at Ravencroft, when the characters are outside in the rain, and the final panel, will thrust a dagger into your heart.
Joe Caramagna’s lettering is beyond impressive. Ample-size uppercase black letters in white dialogue balloons are easy to read, even when scenes burst with dialogue. Sound effects and heightened dialogue are expressive and energetic. Small moments—such as Madelyne thumping her staff and Spidey hitting the pavement—are only two highlights of his word mastery.
The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 gives readers a peek inside New York City’s exclusive Limbo Embassy, an invitation to Anna Watson’s B-Earth Day party, and a haunting look at Ravencroft Institute. While Spider-Man seems more incidental than central, the stories explore the edges of his world and hint at possible future events.