Amazing Spider-Man #598

(NOTE: I will be spoiling this issue. Forewarned is forearmed.)

What the hell is wrong with Norman Osborn? Seriously.

While I have been uniformly impressed by nearly every new development since "One More Day," "American Son" seems like the "Braintrust's" first real misstep. Perhaps it's the tighter link to the Marvel Universe at large? Or the inconsistent art team? Whatever it is, the usual sky high standard of quality that has marked "Amazing Spider-Man" for over a year seems to be waning. This story doesn't have the same charm that previous issues have had. Even when genuinely awful things were happening, the book still retained that core of Peter Parker's humanity. And while he is greatly and sympathetically imperiled in this issue, something feels off. There's something missing. Joe Kelly has crafted a believable plot and has given Peter some great human moments, but the story hasn't cohered the way the best stories of the post-"Brand New Day" era have.

Siqueira's art, while certainly not Phil Jimenez's, is serviceable, if never extraordinary. But it does feel like a step down from the roster of artists that have previously graced the book. For whatever reason, Jimenez is no longer working on the storyline, and it's a rare creative inconsistency for the book when it comes to large scale storylines like this, and the overall tone suffers. One of the best things about this book was that each new longform chapter of the continuing "Amazing Spider-Man" saga felt like a cohesive whole, with its own consistent creative team. In a story that already departs so much from the typical tone of the book (relentlessly dark, intrinsically tied into the current crossover continuity), it really couldn't afford that sort incongruity and still feel like the "Amazing Spider-Man" that's emerged as one of the best books Marvel is publishing.

But back to Norman Osborn. He's done some pretty vicious stuff; murder, probably abduction at some point, banged Gwen Stacy; I'll admit, my Spider-History is not the best. But, man. The dude totally slept with his son's fiance and got her pregnant. If I could, I would italicize that entire sentence. That's how messed up that is. Yes, he's evil, sure, but I'm used to supervillain evil, not Maury evil. But it works, I suppose, and will eventually pay off, I suppose. But it really stings at first, which I guess is the point.

All told, "American Son" has been disappointing so far, especially considering how great this book has become over the past year. Perhaps the end result will be worth the trip, but right now I miss the fun, engaging book that used to come out every week or so; and hope it won't be gone very long.

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