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Amazing Spider-Man #651

by  in Comic Reviews Comment
Amazing Spider-Man #651

The finale of Slott’s first arc sets the stage for Spider-Man’s new direction, which sees perpetual loser, Peter Parker, finally winning big for a change. It’s not hard to see why, when so much of the criticism over a “Brand New Day” relaunch centered on Peter’s inability to succeed. Slott and co. have evidently decided to give the fans what they want.

That said, there’s a lot to cover over these issues – the Kingpin and Hobgoblin re-established after long absences, a new girlfriend, new costume, new job, new apartment, new supporting cast (and the re-introduction of old cast members) – the one thing you can’t accuse Slott of is decompression. It’s certainly a good thing, as the book’s move to $3.99 feels actively justified, for a change. Even ignoring the backup strips, there’s a lot to read here.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the new setup is the repositioning of Phil Urich as a kind of anti-Parker, who uses his Goblin identity to get pictures of himself to sell to the Bugle. While hardcore Urich fans (both of them) might cluck their tongues at the character’s wholesale reinvention as a psychopath, it’s hard to deny that he’s a fun presence in the story, a definite wildcard.

With so much going on, Ramos’ art gets used to its full, kinetic effect. With characters like the Hobgoblin and Black Cat in the cast, the action sequences have an appropriately larger-than-life feel. A lot of the artists pre-Slott worked in the rather moody, realistic tones that could be called Marvel’s current house style (even though there isn’t officially one). Ramos’ work is fun to look at, even if it’s not always beautiful, elegant, or even particularly sensible (there’s no way Phil’s teeth transform into jagged fangs when he puts on the mask, but who really cares when the effect is so successful?)

Although a fun read, there was at least one thing that wasn’t perfect. Black Cat seemed rather too gung ho about her personal safety, and the scenes where she was fighting the Kingpin were a little too disjointed to work properly. At several points, Fisk could have snapped her neck, and indeed threatened to, and yet she still got away alive. Yes, it’s an all-ages comic, but if it’s not going to happen, don’t engineer a situation where, logically, it should!

That aside, it’s a strong issue, and one which suggests that “Amazing Spider-Man” has lost nothing in its transition back to a single-writer vision. Hopefully the next arc will have a little more focus, but as an introductory/re-introductory story, there’s almost nothing wrong with this one. It feels the start of a new era, and better yet, one worth reading.