I was probably Marvel’s worst possible imagining of a potential reader when “Brand New Day” started. I looked at the creative teams, cherry picked the ones I liked, and skipped the ones I didn’t. I had no interest in the overall story or, really, the general direction they were taking the title in. I was just excited about Steve McNiven or Chris Bachalo or Phil Jimenez drawing Spider-Man.
But then I started hearing about the last storyline, involving Screwball and telling the story of Peter Parker’s stint as a paparazzi. Sure, most of the heat was around the shocking return of Mary Jane Watson but I didn’t really care about that. I picked it up and found that it was in this storyline that everything really started to gel. Peter Parker was dealing with regular problems — with his own moral compass — indelibly on the streets of Manhattan.
It was absolutely classic Spider-Man.
So, I get it now. Marvel can call it whatever they want, they can put up any weird explanation they have to, it doesn’t matter. Whatever they had to do was worth it to get here.
“The Other Spider-Man” continues on the (welcome) path of sticking to new antagonists for Spider-Man to deal with. Since there’s none of the kind of continuity baggage that leads to lazy storytelling (“Who cares what the Vulture is doing here, he’s the Vulture! He’s evil! Look, he’s kicking that school bus!”), a reader is actually able to get genuine emotional involvement with these new antagonists. Screwball, who makes a super-special secret appearance in this issue, is a personal favorite of mine, and I look forward to seeing more of her.
Although the tone is definitely consistent among the “Spidey Braintrust” of Gale, Zeb Wells, Marc Guggenheim, and Dan Slott, there’s some definite intangibles that make me a little less impressed with some of the writers than others. Okay, it’s not that “intangible.” Anyone who puts the word “Feces” in a character’s mouth (man, there has to be a better way to put that) is just going to sound stale. I get the gag but, boy, did it ever fall flat.
Luckily Gale does just fine with the character work as we follow both Johnny, the hood trying to make some money off Spider-Man’s antics, and Peter himself each running into their own sets of interpersonal complications.
Mike McKone is yet another addition to a really strong stable of Spider-Man artists. His style is a perfect fit for classic Spider-Man. He can capture both the flexible acrobatics and the almost two-dimensionally graphic design of the best interpretations of his costume.
As someone who doesn’t really care about the whole Mary Jane Watson thing, it’s quite amusing watching the Braintrust keep teasing at her appearances and then pulling the rug away. There’s a lightness throughout both this issue and the general approach to Spider-Man these days that’s incredibly welcome. From the irreverent covers to the breezy and classic Spidey-Banter, “Brand New Day” has brought us a Spider-Man that, for the first time in a long time, actually feels Amazing.