's latest status quo shake-up hit this week, and it's officially code-named "Big Time," where Peter Parker's got a job, a girl, and all of his supervillains newly pissed at him. "Brand New Day" is over, but not invalidated, so those 101 issues the Spider-Man Braintrust wrote still matter. Dan Slott is the sole writer of the series, with art courtesy of Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli, and Marcos Martin.
"Big Time" is a brand new jumping on point, so after the jump, we've got the lowdown on the characters you need to know about to hop in feet first.
The Parker luck looks like it has finally turned around. Peter's got a girlfriend, a sweet gig with a couple teams of Avengers, a fantastic supporting cast, and a brand new job that requires he work with a group of mad scientists for a fat paycheck. Or maybe that Parker luck is acting up again and his new job is going to end up being the cause of a whole bunch of new problems. Honestly, there's no maybe about it--it's going to cause problems and Spider-Man is going to have to fix them, but hey! At least he can pay rent now. Long story short, at the beginning of "Big Time," Peter Parker is the same old friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we all know and love.
MARY JANE WATSON
MJ is back in New York City, hosting a TV show, and generally getting reacquainted with her old friends, including Parker. They have a friendly but barbed relationship, with MJ providing a much-needed voice of reason and perspective when Parker needs it. They're at the point where they can laugh about their former relationship, and since MJ is his only friend who knows his secret identity, it's fair to say that he depends on her quite a bit.
NORMAN & HARRY OSBORN
Remember that time Norman Osborn weaseled his way into somehow being in charge of national security? As expected, his crazy started acting up again, and this time he ended up invading Asgard, causing a massive loss of life, and generally looking like a douchebag on live television. In exchange for his insanity, he was locked up under the watchful eye of Luke Cage and kept far away from Peter Parker. While a grassroots movement of criminals sporting Green Goblin tattoos is building steam in the background, Osborn is safely locked up and, as far as Amazing Spider-Man goes, not a going concern right now.
Harry Osborn, Parker's best friend, is also not currently a going concern. He recently found out that he's the proud papa of a new little baby, and he's determined to raise the kid right. He screwed up huge with Normie, his other son, and rather than continue the Osborn family streak of terrible attempts at fatherhood, he's trying to turn everything around. He's never too far away from a hard turn into classic Osborn family problem solving, as he proved with a butt-kicking when Vin Gonzales made the mistake of threatening him at his own party.
Aunt May got married to J Jonah Jameson's dad, which officially makes JJJ and his worst enemy brothers-in-law. Hijinx have already ensued, and will likely be in the process of ensuing for the foreseeable future. May, on the other hand, has a warm-hearted husband who definitely isn't a supervillain (remember the time she almost married Doc Ock?) and is pretty well off at this point. She's got a nice penthouse in the city, a nephew who may finally be hitting his stride in terms of career, and she can truly relax for the first time in a long time. All things considered, Brand New Day was probably kindest to Aunt May, which is kind of cool.
Carlie Cooper, forensic specialist for the NYPD, is Parker's new girlfriend. To be perfectly honest, there isn't too much you can say about her just yet. Her dad's a crook, her best friend turned into a Goblin, and she's dating a guy who may be the second least eligible bachelor in New York City (Daredevil is a true blue Lothario, but is currently possessed by a demon). Carlie's a good lady, and will hopefully curb some of Parker's poorer tendencies while they date. The trick will be infusing her with a personality that is distinguishable from, say, Betty Brant or a 2010 version of Gwen Stacy. She's very wholesome, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but that doesn't necessarily make for a compelling relationship.
VIN & MICHELE GONZALES
Michele Gonzales has been a well-deserved thorn in Peter Parker's side over the past couple years, what with her insistence on good roommate practices like staying informed, paying rent on time, paying rent period, and cleanliness. Their relationship was rocky, fraught with screaming and near evictions, but, y'know, that's life with Peter Parker. Now that her brother is out of jail, Michele is done with Parker and New York City altogether. She's headed back to Chicago, or more likely, comic book limbo for the next five years.
Vin is another story. He's fresh out of jail after serving some time for cheating on his duties as a cop, and no other cop wants anything to do with a snitch. That's good, though, because it's clear that Vin's time in jail changed him. He's sporting a brand new Green Goblin tattoo, and that means nothing good. His aforementioned threat to Harry Osborn still resulted in him getting his butt thoroughly kicked, though, so he clearly didn't learn how to fight in prison.
The chubby, badly dressed Otto Octavius is gone, as the years of physical stresses from being constantly exposed to radiation and battered by superhuman fists has taken its toll on his body. The revamped Doc Ock has ramped up his use of technology in his escapades, with several different types of octopus-themed gadgets, scouts, and killer robots at his beck and call. He's standing at death's door, but he absolutely refuses to step through. Instead, he's searching for a cure to what ails him, and he plans to get it by any mean's necessary. Octavius is out of patience and out of time, so he's willing to go to horrible and groundbreaking depths to cure himself. If Spider-Man gets in the way, Ock is more than happy to pay him back for years of concussions and embarrassment.
Alexei Sytsevich, the original Rhino, retired from his life of crime. He found a wife and a new life, and he was happy for the first time in years. Past sins have a way of coming back and causing problems, however, and in this case, the problem was an all-new Rhino. The new Rhino wanted to be crowned as the genuine Rhino, and that meant beating his predecessor. Alexei's wife dies by accident during the attmempt, and in a rage, he kills new Rhino and returns to his former life. Now, Alexei absolutely hates Spider-Man for interfering in his life, and wants him dead, but this doesn't prevent the human being who was once known as Alexei from shining forth on occasion. When faced with the prospect of killing Spider-Man, but putting a baby's life in danger in the process, Alexei chose to let Spider-Man pass and return to their battle at a later date. The relationship between Spider-Man and Rhino is complicated now in a way that it wasn't before, and for the better.
The Lizard got an upgrade in a bit way. Curt Connors has been purged from the Lizard's body after the tragic death of his son, leaving the Lizard with the intelligence of Connors but the brain of a cold blooded reptile. The new Lizard is faster, deadlier, and unlike any Lizard that came before. Its cold, reptilian intelligence manifests in both a casual lack of respect for human life and the ability to whip the reptile hindbrain of organisms into a fury. In other words, when the Lizard's around, people go crazy and get hurt. The Lizard is currently loose in New York, struggling with reconciling the scientific knowledge of Connors with its simple reptile brain.