Marvel's "All New Marvel Now" initiative has largely focused on unique, character driven solo series featuring dynamic artwork and unique stories that aren't necessarily tied to a greater event storyline. In what Comics Alliance called the "Hawkeyezation" of the Marvel Universe, the publisher is trying to find new ways of presenting familiar characters in unfamiliar settings. The "All New Marvel Now" brand is an interesting experiment, one built around building critical acclaim rather than huge sales, and I think that it's been at least a moderate success thus far.
While The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is billed as an "All New Marvel Now" series, it's really a continuation of an ongoing storyline started by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos back in 2010. In fact, most of the opening issue focuses on Parker sorting out ,and in the process conveniently explaining to the readers, his new status quo. Parker has a new job, a doctorate degree and a new girlfriend courtesy of arch-enemy Dr. Octopus, who had taken over Spider-Man's body. While Octopus was posing for Parker in the pages of the recently ended Superior Spider-Man series, he also estranged many of Parker's friends and allies, which will probably result in conflict for Parker in future issues. In fact, several of those types of plotlines are set up in short vignettes after the main story, featuring Electro and the Black Cat respectively. There are also a couple of short stories setting up Spider-Man 2099 and Kaine (Spider-Man's clone turned Scarlet Spider) as well as a cute three page story explaining how Spider-Man's "stuff" works. That three page story, written by Joe Caramagna and illustrated by Chris Eliopolous, was probably my favorite part of the comic.
It's hard to thoroughly review The Amazing Spider-Man #1 simply because there's nothing really new about it. Slott's been the writer of the main Spider-Man series for several years, and Ramos has been one of Slott's primary collaborators during that stretch of time. If you've read a Spider-Man comic in the last four years, chances are you already have an opinion about the creative team, and by extension the quality of this comic. I think that Slott does an acceptable job of bringing new readers up to speed with the new status quo of Parker and his supporting cast's new status quo. I also think that Ramos's dynamic but controversial artwork goes well with Slott's often overly wordy dialogue, which brings a goofy sort of energy to the issue that's also been present in past collaborations between the two. That goofy energy is best on display when Spider-Man fights a group of D-list villains in the nude, which turned a sophomoric attempt at stupid humor into a sophomoric but palatable attempt at stupid humor.
Despite being labeled as an "all new" Marvel book, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is anything but. It's a book that will be familiar to readers of Spider-Man's ongoing adventures, and serves as an easy introductory chapter for those who have been waiting to jump into the ongoing adventures of Spider-Man. There's no attempt by the creative team to shy away from the divisive elements of past chapters of Slott's time on the Spider-Man books, so I think that readers will have to make their own decision on whether Slott and Ramos capture the spirit and energy of Spider-Man. Personally, I find Slott's Spider-Man to be a very wordy and needlessly melodramatic version of the character, but I think that appeals to a large subsection of readers, as evidenced by the rumored 700,000 pre-sold copies of the comic.