Heroes Reborn: Peter Parker, The Amazing Shutterbug #1 Review

by Charles Martin on May 12, 2021

Heroes Reborn: Peter Parker, The Amazing Shutterbug #1 Review
Writer: Marc Bernardin
Contemporary Artist: Rafael De Latorre
Flashback Penciller: Ron Lim
Flashback Inker: Scott Hanna
Colourist: Jim Campbell
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Marvel Comics

So, mild-mannered Peter Parker as a photographer and nothing else. Why not give it a spin?!

For a start, I can say that despite a vaguely similar set-up, this is not a Marvel knockoff of Jimmy Olson and Superman. Peter's feelings toward Hyperion are a long way from hero-worship or friendship.

This is because writer Marc Bernardin isn't afraid to load this alternate Peter Parker's story up with tragedy. Yes, he misses that all-important spider-bite -- that's the very first thing this one-shot shows -- but he still loses a close family member. 

And it happens in a way that deeply complicates Peter's relationship with Hyperion.

This one-shot gets some quietly impressive art courtesy of Rafael De Latorre, Ron Lim, and Scott Hanna. They're all working in a spare, cartoony style that uses just exactly enough detail to convey story developments and emotions. Mr. Hanna puts down hard, discrete lines over Mr. Lim's pencils in the initial flashback, while Rafael De Latorre delivers a slightly more organic finish in the contemporary scenes.

Colourist Jim Campbell does a remarkable job finessing the relationship between the two artists. They're very close, stylistically, and the colours work -- in a positive way -- to distinguish between them. The flashback gets flatter, more animation-esque shading. This fits both the hard linework and the uncomplicated tone of the story at that point. The contemporary art receives more blended, graduated colour. Again, it fits both the looser lines and the more complex mood.

This is essentially a story in three parts. The first part, with Mr. Lim's art, illustrates that high school stinks for a valedictorian nerd who doesn't get bitten by a radioactive spider. The middle part shows that college maybe doesn't stink for an inventive nerd with a bright future -- but then a tragic turn darkens that future. The final part demonstrates that an embittered grown-up nerd doesn't need radioactive blood to be a hero.

Mr. Bernardin's script is extremely strong in detail. His dialogue is compelling and manages to sound both clever and natural. His characterization of Peter Parker is thoughtful, insightful and empathic.

You can hear the "but" coming, can't you? The problem with this story is a strategic one, a high-level question of focus that was probably hard to spot until the comic was close to completion. It's this: The first part of the story? The high school part? With the nice distinctive art and the missed spider-bite and the Mary Jane cameo? It's not actually germane to the rest of the story. Whoops.

The flashback isn't bad -- far from it! But it's not as good as the subsequent parts, and not as strongly linked to the core challenge Mr. Bernardin throws at Peter. That being the case, it's hard not to begrudge the pages spent on Pete's high school days and wonder what could have been done if the later scenes got more space. The finale, in particular, might have benefitted from a little more elaboration.

In the end, though, I am a big admirer of Marc Bernardin's script. It tells a complete and satisfying story, and it demonstrates clearly that radioactive blood and web-shooters are not the things that make Peter Parker great. A particular highlight is a reworking of Spider-Man's "great responsibility" credo, wisely altered to suit the non-super-powered protagonist. And the ending, though abrupt, has a rich irony that closes the story with a sense of destiny fulfilled.

Though I think it spends a little too long in high school, overall I had a blast with Shutterbug. This is a very enjoyable one-shot that uses the alternate universe premise of Heroes Reborn to do great what-if work on Peter Parker. With strong, simple art and insightful words, it capably illustrates the heroic streak in the character that will always shine through, spider-bite or no spider-bite.

Our Score:


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If, like mine, your Spider-scholarship isn't A+ level, you may need to google "marvel wiki carolyn trainer" to get the continuity gag in the college section.