Dan Slott was arguably the most praised of all the "Brand New Day" writers, successfully introducing readers to the new "Amazing" continuity in a fun, entertaining way, winning people over after the editorial mess that was "One More Day."
But then, that was months ago. Has Slott retained the magic?
While the new villainess, Screwball, is a fairly odd concept (she's a free-runner who films her exploits to be streamed live on her website) there is some mileage in the idea beyond the "parkour luck" pun, and it hearkens back to the old Spidey days when he'd fight almost willfully rubbish villains like the Looter. One of the greatest elements of "Brand New Day" is the focus on creating new villains for Spidey to fight -- something that'll only make Venom's eventual return all the sweeter this summer.
Meanwhile, the plot threads weave near-seamlessly through the books. The small touches like the snow on the ground from the Wells/Bachalo arc are great, although . . . didn't Gale's previous issue mention it was warming up?
Slott's gift for comedy plays itself out brilliantly in a sequence where Jameson does cardio in the park. Of all the writers, Slott appears to be the one with the best mastery of the soap-opera elements of Spider-Man, and of particular brilliance is the way various people in this issue react to Peter taking paparazzi shots for Dexter Bennett. Speaking of which, I'm not sure how long they're going to keep up the running gag that he can't remember Parker's name, but it's still entertaining me.
The inclusion of Paper Doll is the least entertaining part of this issue. Since she's being set up as the main villain for the arc, though, let's hope the role is beefed up a little. So far, she appears to be some kind of super-powered, psychologically-disturbed stalker, which is seriously at odds with the tone of Slott's previous work, so it'll be something of an experiment for him.
Artist Marcos Martin is perhaps the least "name" artist to work on the rebooted Spider-Man series but stands up well alongside the others -- his pencils are clean and classic-looking, with a fluid sense of action. The designs for some of the newer characters -- specifically Lily, Dexter and Harry -- look a bit odd when compared to the previous depictions, but generally the looser look works. There's a great part on a rooftop which shows Spidey walking horizontally down a wall which is rendered expertly, and seeing the half-masked, half-unmasked panel of Peter's face brought back the kind of nostalgic feelings I should be too young to even have.
So, if there was any ever doubt -- Slott's return retains the same brilliance he originally brought to the table, and Marcos Martin, while a fairly radical shift from the previous roster of artists, turns in some excellent work.