Amazing Fantasy #1 Is a Tale of Fantasy & Wonder
Sayantan Gayen
In 1961, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko launched the Amazing Adult Fantasy series in the hopes of telling quirky stories of wonder with twists and unexpected endings. Even though the series was short-lived, the final issue (renamed Amazing Fantasy #15) became famous for featuring the first appearance of the Amazing Spider-Man. Kaare Kyle Andrews follows in their footsteps and brings Amazing Fantasy back for a new generation, creating a fantastical new world full of danger and intrigue. He handpicks some of Marvel's greatest superheroes and catapults them into uncharted waters, in a test of valor, might and magic.
Amazing Fantasy #1 follows Captain America, Black Widow and Spider-Man as they are transported to this strange new land. Surprisingly, each character arrives from a different era and under different circumstances. Captain America comes from 1943 when World War II was at its peak. He is seen escorting a fleet of US Navy ships and fighter jets over German-infested waters when suddenly all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, Natasha Romanoff trains with other spiderlings in the infamous Red Room, while a TV reporter from the Soviet Union informs listeners of the impending arms race with the Reagan administration. Although just a child, Natasha shows immense promise as she mercilessly dislocates the shoulder of her opponent in a sparring session and sneaks out of the compound, vanishing into the snowy night, in the hopes of freedom. The final character spotlighted is of course Spider-Man, who swings through Manhattan to evade Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs as an onlooker comments about the Cuban missile crisis, a throwback to the year the Amazing Spider-Man was created. In his absent-mindedness, he takes a direct hit from a pumpkin bomb and wakes up to find himself being boiled alive in a cauldron as an army of frog-people wail around.
With Amazing Fantasy #1, Andrews brings a fantasy element to the story, weaving an interconnected narrative while switching between characters as they face their daily challenges. From the very beginning, Andrews gives a distinctive voice to each of his protagonists, which helps set the tone of the book. He grasps the essence and motivations of these characters, which in turn makes the portrayals more appealing. Andrews employs a good amount of exposition, but it doesn't come across as too strong since the plot moves along too quickly to dwell upon things.
Andrews' artwork feels right at home with the characters and the era he is trying to recreate. Captain America's opening panels feature a dark and gritty atmosphere with intense inking and bold line works, while Spider-Man appears in a strikingly contrasting tone with a much brighter color palette, undoubtedly an inspiration from the Ditko-era illustrations. Particularly striking are Natasha's panels in the Red Room, which uses light, yet swift strokes and detailed backgrounds. The actions are well-drawn and flow seamlessly from panel to panel. Andrews lets his imagination go wild on the monster designs and as the narrative progresses, the artwork becomes more streamlined, signaling the arrival of all the protagonists on the savage world.
With three different narratives running parallel to one another, Amazing Fantasy #1 takes its time to build up to the focal point. Despite that, the debut issue is really well-paced and amazingly fun. The story has an old-timey feel to it, not only because of the presence of mythical creatures but also because it harkens back to classic Marvel Fanfare stories. The book ends with the unexpected return of a long-dead character, a shocking reveal and a narrative hook that is bound to bring readers back for the next issue.