Well, the first arc of “Brand New Day” by Dan Slott and Steve McNiven has finished, and let’s see what we shall see.
Probably the biggest criticism I have heard of Brand New Day so far is one I do not find too convincing, which is the whole “this reads just like an old school issue of Spider-Man.” That is very true, this story arc is VERY reminiscent of Spider-Man stories from the early 70s. That said, I think the story arc was a good one, so does it really matter if it is a good story reminiscent of older comics? Kurt Busiek wrote an awesome comic book series that was quite literally Untold Tales of Spider-Man’s early days, and it was still excellent, because Busiek wrote good stories. So if the comics are good, I really don’t care if it is feels like a story Len Wein wrote decades ago, because it is a lot harder to evoke that style and still be good than one may think.
Of course, being the first story arc after the One More Day silliness, this arc is going to have to live up to some stringent standards, like whether this story’s quality was contingent upon it being a single Spider-Man (which is questionable, as the best aspects of this comic were the old-fashioned superhero stuff and the return of the supporting cast – neither of which hinged on Peter being married) and forcing the new potential love interest to be compared instantly to Mary Jane, which is a tough comparison for a new character, although Carlie Cooper hold up pretty well, I think (she even has an alliterative name!) as the nerdy, yet attractive, police scientist roommate/best friend of Harry Osborn’s new girlfriend.
Mr. Negative seems like an interesting villain, and the connection to Aunt May was smartly done. I also like the way Slott set him up to be a recurring villain, especially the way his “inner demons” barely got any attention even though they’re on the cover of #547 – that’s usually a sign that we’re going to be seeing these characters again (if they were unsure of returning, we’d probably see the inner demons get a lot more attention). That said, I get the idea of wanting to return to a more old-fashioned type of supervillain, but I think there’s something to be said for the modernization of supervillains, so at least they don’t do stuff like this storyline, where Mr. Negative’s entire plot to take over the Maggia hinges on a overly convoluted plot. He wants to wipe out the two families that make up the Maggia. That’s fair enough – but to do so, he spends all this time and all this money on this ancient magical concoction to form this special gas that only kills people who share the same bloodline, and then sends the gas to kill the crime bosses when they’re having a pow wow.
However, to do so, he has his men take control of the hotel the mob is meeting at, and pumps the special gas through the vents.
Sooooo….if that was possible, couldn’t he just pump in NORMAL poison gas?
Or hell, chuck a bomb into the room?
Or a couple of guys with machine guns?
It’s not like we’re talking about wiping out hundreds of people at once, we’re talking twenty guys TOPS.
So while the idea of a gas that kills your entire bloodline is clever and all, I don’t see it being all that effective, especially not effective enough to do some elaborate plan just to try it.
That said, it’s not that big a deal, as I guess it’s just something you have to take for granted – yeah, he doesn’t make sense, but supervillains didn’t use to make sense, so just go with it, and it DOES lead to a neat scene where Spider-Man is forced to give up some of his blood, allowing Mr. Negative to have the ability to kill Spider-Man any time he wants (his additional threat of killing Spider-Man’s family is a bit less impressive – as it is a fairly hollow threat even BEFORE Peter rightly points out that he doesn’t have any blood relatives – since what is Mr. Negative going to do – spray the gas and just hope that someone related to Spider-Man was walking by at the time?). It’s a good sign of Spider-Man’s selflessness.
The main contributions of this story arc has been a return of the classic Spider-Man supporting cast, who are very good, and a nice Spider-Man/supervillain fight, with the additional helping of some interesting subplots to look out for (like the crook who may have a bead on Spider-Man’s secret identity, or the the dead guy with a spider tracer in his mouth or what will happen to the Daily Bugle or what will happen with Harry and his girlfriend or what will happen with Carlie Cooper or how bad of a new character will Jackpot be or will Spider-Man discover Mr. Negative’s connection to Aunt May or will the cops seriously think Spider-Man is a murderer.
Lots of good stuff, and though it is too bad that this is the end of McNiven’s run on the book (his art was amazing, pun intended), I think the upcoming artists are pretty good in their own right (MARCOS MARTIN is doing the next Slott arc! JOY!!).
So things are looking up, quality-wise.
This first story wasn’t perfect, but it was good, so it’ll get a Recommended from me.
You can still hate One More Day, though!!
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