Normally a final issue of a series that features a guest appearance from the Punisher might not bode particularly well for the canceled character’s chances of continuing to breathe past the final page. Christopher Yost and David Lopez manage to avoid bumping off Spider-Man in “Avenging Spider-Man” #22, but the Punisher doesn’t let Spider-Man’s newly acquired violent streak pass without incident. Incidents, as you know, make for fun comic book stories, especially with egotistical collisions between characters like the superior version of Spider-Man and the judge-jury-and-executioner incarnate in the Punisher.
Punisher and Spider-Man converse about the particulars of the business as Frank Castle tries to off a Mysterio-wannabe while Spider-Man attempts to add to his collection of former Sinister Sixers. That wannabe villain turns out to be someone who has recently acquired Mysterio’s gear, further irritating Spider-Man while also advancing Yost’s subplot of the Sinister Six being collected by Spider-Man, and giving depth to the Hobgoblin as weapons provider subplot from the Dan Slott-penned “Amazing/Superior” title. As has become commonplace, Yost delivers a solid story that entertains and informs. His grasp of Spider-Man and comfort level with the Marvel Universe is second only to Slott’s. Punisher, through the filter of Yost, is less in line with what Greg Rucka recently established and more vocal and volatile.
Accompanying Yost is artist David Lopez. His clean, crisp art fills this issue wonderfully, blending nicely with Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring and Joe Caramagna’s letters. While this is the final issue of “Avenging Spider-Man,” Lopez serves as a bridge once this title gives way to “Superior Spider-Man Team-Up” next month. In the meantime, Lopez provides plenty to “Oooo!” and “Ahhh!” over with rooftop tussles, flying bullets and lots of wall-crawler action shots. Lopez caught my attention with his work on “Hawkeye & Mockingbird” and I’m glad he’s found his way to “Avenging Spider-Man.” His classic comic book style accentuates the throwback feel of this book and gives me more reason to enjoy “Avenging Spider-Man” as this generation’s equivalent to “Marvel Team-Up,” a title I spent the summers of my youth devouring.
That said, I’m thrilled Marvel has relented and brought “Team-Up” back to the lexicon of Marvel Comics. I just hope Yost is able to keep those adventures as fun and entertaining as he’s done here on “Avenging Spider-Man.” The continuation of the creative team carrying over one issue — or series — to the next will help consistency and development. So long, “Avenging Spider-Man!” It’s been a fun adventure, but I’m looking forward to teaming up with some summertime reading.