Thursday, January 10, 2008

Amazing Spider-Man #546: A Brand New Review

By now I think pretty much everybody has sounded off on this book and the "Brand New Day" direction. Except me. Well, I did milk the controversy for all it was worth...but now I still have to read and review the thing!

Peter Parker: Simply Irresistible
Though the splash page depicts Peter Parker smooching it up with a "Girls Gone Wild" type chick, it really has nothing to do with Peter actively "cheating" on Mary Jane. As we find out later, his lips were "raped." Some might say that having established in this issue that Peter is, in some senses, kind of a bum, having him chased and molested by some babe is unrealistic. To which I say: Kevin Federline.

Harry Osborn: Creep
Far more concerning to me is the establishment of Peter's constant borrowing of money from erstwhile friend Harry Osborn. I mean, speaking of deals with the devil...Peter depending on Harry for scratch is like taking home a bunch of weed from your drug dealer "on loan." It's not going to end well.

Is Harry the prototypical "creep" or what? They can't show him snort some coke in this book (or smoke a cigarette) but you intuitively *know* he must totally do that between panels. He's the type of guy Perez Hilton would draw little white dots coming from his nose in those paparazzi photos. If Harry Osborn was a real person he's be the dude who gave Lindsey or Britney that fatal dose and then sold the sex tapes afterwards.

Harold And Kumar meet Peter Parker
In general, Peter Parker's sense of judgement has been not so great as of late. That concerns me more than anything. He seems not to be acting from the position of a lifetime of experience. I mean, this isn't Peter from high school, but he sure is acting like he is. If he's twentysomething, doesn't that make him Generation Y? Slackers are Generation X. Generation Y is like my sister, the person with a full stock portfolio who clips coupons. I'm Generation X. I use my haircut money to buy comic books.

It seems like the target audience, 18-30, would be more "together" than to identify with Slacker Peter. The only thing Slacker Peter is missing is a blunt.

And yet I have to believe that, like the classic "Spider-Man" trope, Peter Parker has to learn the hard way that "with great power comes great responsibility," and that he wil shape up.

Yeah, But What About The Actual Comic?
In terms of the actual comic, I found it enjoyable, engaging, and very accessible to a new reader (me). I haven't read a Spider-Man comic in like forever. This book laid the current Spidey mythos all out for me in an easy-to-grasp way (thanks in part to a handy "chart" drawn by John Romita Jr.). Also, each upcoming arc is previewed for me via a short backup story with words & art from their respective creative teams -- I thought this was a smart thing to do, and really gave me a clear picture of what lies ahead.

Where I see the book having problems is with the hardcore readers who have been following their continuity closely. It's very hard for such readers to shift gears like that, and I think that's why we have witnessed so much emotion on the issue. On the other side of the coin is a reader new to the regular title like me. I tried on multiple occasions in the past to get "into" Spider-Man. Every time tried, the current labyrinthine continuity stymied me. If it wasn't the Clone Saga, it was The Other.

At least now, I am willing to pick this book up on a regular basis. I understand it. It isn't perfect, but it has laid all the elements of the storyline out for me and I am interested in seeing where they are all headed.

Peter Parker: Sensitive Guy Who Doesn't Care About Big Boobs
And what are the odds that Peter is going to nail the sexy self-effacing bookish police chick who is playing it coy? Probably pretty high. See, what Peter *really* wants is to go with a girl with brains, with substance over style. That was what the misleading splash page was trying to point out. I mean, if he ends up marrying a fashion model along the way, well, then...


  1. I would have jumped on board with the new spidey (all the previous stuff I read was pretty much crap) if it didn't mean that I had to add three new comics a week. Thats a bit much for me right now.

  2. Thank you very much for the well written summary because... I ain't buying this book anytime soon.

    Gotta vote with my wallet sometime.

  3. You- you actually waited to read a book before giving it a review, positive or negative? Good God, woman - what sort of fan are you?

  4. As someone who doesn't read spiderman, the magic-will-fix-it approach still won't work on me to pick this up as a new reader, because

    1) I'm in my twenties (for a little bit longer!) and don't want to read about peter parker learning all over again how to NOT be a moron. Hasn't he already done that? Didn't I read comics about him doing that when I was younger? Meh, thanks but no thanks.

    2) Because of the above, I'm certainly not wanting to cough up so much money on the extra six hundred issues a month or whatever it is they're putting out for spiderman now.

    So in conclusion, I'm potentially one of the "brand new readers" they wanted to suck in with this and I'm not biting. Let's face it, all they're going to end up with reading this is....the exact same people who were reading it previously, only they'll complain a lot more.

    While buying every variant cover issue, of course.

  5. Really my intense dislike for the book isn't based on any CONTENT but rather on the fact that NOT BUYING IT is the only way to provide incentive against editorial interference.

    Also, as for the "what is up with Spider-man & ______" my question is DID THE CLONE SAGA HAPPEN?

    I like that Peter Parker getting MARRIED is so much trouble, but the giant clone-mistake? That we'll keep in continuity, just sweep under the rug.

  6. What bugs me most about all of these various 'Continuity Punches' is that it defies the most appealing trait of the Superhero comic: its a serial narrative. We read the things because the characters grow and change, not in spite of it. This idea that characters need to remain trapped in some kind of intrinsic state is maddening to me. And I've rarely bought the whole "but what will new readers do?" line. If a non-rebooted (face it, gang - call it what they will, Spidey's just gone through a reboot) Amazing Spider-man title had a nice 2 page JRJR explanation of what has gone before, you would not be lost as a new reader.

  7. i am a total naysayer and refuse to buy it til they fix stuffs, but I have to give Slott mad props for this

    Phd in Toast string theory? Masters in Janitorial studies? "Knowledge of sports a plus"?

    Absolute Genius.

  8. also... model for "late night photoshoot in Brooklyn"

    and the bit about awful photography.

    honestly, that one page made me almost reconsider, is the rest of his ASM stuff this good?

  9. I liked the nice twist of Jonah going bankrupt without Spidey pictures. That's my two cents.

  10. Not interested, thanks. They lost me too when they dumped the marriage.

  11. Not to be 12 or anything, but the whole way Peter is sort of schlepping around and the way he is drawn, with his hand in his hair all the time, he TOTALLY looks like he is on the gange. It just took you to bring it to my attention, thank you.