Amazing Spider-Man #674

In the wake of the Spider-Island fiasco, the people of New York attempt to deal with the personal ramifications (good and bad), while Peter's newly ex-girlfriend Carlie investigates a spate of apparent suicides which may or may not be related.

After the pace and hype of Spider-Island, it was inevitable that there'd be a comedown in the issues following. Slott attempts to keep up some of the momentum as the stories scale back down towards a more conventionally Spider-Man scope by teasing the reintroduction of a classic Spider-Man villain who hasn't been seen for some time, and powering ahead with a new status quo.

Now that Carlie knows Peter is Spider-Man, their relationship has broken up, but their mutual interest in the "suicides" gives them cause to team up, and a truce is called. While it's difficult to manage the idea of Peter having too many civilian allies in his costumed identity, Slott makes it work by turning it into a Parker-style burden. Again, his superhero life is making his personal life difficult, just as it should be. It's the classic Spider-Man formula, after all.

Slott's work is characteristically upbeat, filled with chatty dialogue and engaging character moments. His focus on the book's regular supporting cast is a welcome change after the crossover madness of the last few issues. The new police chief is perhaps a little one-note (especially since we've already got one Spidey-hating authoritarian around) but under Slott's pen, it's likely the character will be developed further.

It's only villain-wise that the book falters. It's logical that criminally-inclined or otherwise unbalanced teenagers might want to regain the superpowers they lost, but the characters are flat and their plight is unengaging. Without the final page reveal, the threat they pose wouldn't work at all. With it, their incompetence is merely forgivable.

Camuncoli's artwork is uniformly enjoyable, although the designs for the winged gang members (which we can assume are his) are rather generic and weak. Away from them, there's barely a line wrong, and his conversation between Carlie and Peter at the end of the book is outclassed only by the earlier fight scenes.

As usual, then, "Amazing Spider-Man" maintains a high level of quality with only a few minor flaws. Perhaps it would have made sense to make a cleaner break somehow following Spider-Island, as this seems more like a return to mundanity than the start of a new storyline, and doesn't compare well to its immediate predecessor. Acceptable, yes, enjoyable, yes, but Amazing? For the first time in a while, not quite.

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