At long last, the Daily Bugle comic book series we all asked for has arrived. In a world full of web-slinging, plasma-blasting, and metal-claw-slashing, Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle looks at the Marvel Universe from a micro-level and, believe it or not, it works. Even with Spider-Man in the title, the character isn't much present throughout. Sure, he's in it enough to warrant the top-shelf branding, but the story, by and large, focuses on Ben Urich and a new Bugle employee he's tasked with mentoring.
The issue itself doesn't waste time morphing into a reflection on today's media landscape switching from print to digital, video, and social media. It's here the criticisms are a bit too cliched. You've got the hard-nosed boomer in Urich, a cigar-chomping, no-nonsense journalist who'll swear by print until the day he dies. Then there's Chloe Robertson, the niece of Bugle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Robertson; Chloe swears by social media and her influencer status, something Urich couldn't care less about.
In this debut issue, the relationship between the two is already tired. The generational gap is something we've seen countless times before and, within this book, it doesn't provide a fresh take on why it should be any different. By the end of this run, maybe Urich will finally cave in and sign up for a profile on Chirper or FaceSpace, but in this issue he's just another crabby guy whose profile picture is about to a be a selfie of himself in the front seat of the car. Perhaps it's all by design and he's so intolerable now so that future developments can take him to new heights. Either way, we've not really seen Ben Urich like this before and that's a good thing.
The script reads as you'd expect from a story about a daily newspaper trying to get somewhere in the digital age. As someone who lives the story of this book each and every day, it's a take that piqued my interest because it deals with real, legitimate issues in the world of digital journalism. If you're looking for an inter-dimensional, demon-fighting, shoot 'em up, you better look elsewhere—and that's fine. Not every story needs to have the world hang in the balance.
There are tales to be told about all corners of the Marvel world and that's where Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle succeeds. It takes a topic that isn't well-suited to comics and makes an interesting story with real characters that are fleshed out within the first issue. There's just enough Spider-Man to classify this as a superhero book, while at the same time the scenes without Peter Parker are the strongest bits. Daily Bugle isn't entirely necessary but at the very least, it's a solid-enough read to warrant a return to the second issue when it comes out next month.
Published by Marvel Comics
On January 29, 2020
Written by Mat Johnson
Art by Mack Chater, Francesco Mobili, and Scott Hanna
Colors by Dono Sánchez-Almara and Protobunkers
Letters by Joe Caramagna