THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #561
TITLE: “Photo Finished” (Part 3 of “Peter Parker, Paparazzi”)
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Marcos Martin
COLORIST: Javier Rodriguez
Reviewed By: Crazy Chris

PLOT:

Paper Doll was once Piper Dali [oh Lord], a teenaged girl who became obsessed with Bobby Carr movies the night she stumbled into her father’s dimensional compressor. In the present, she has put her murderous sights on Carr’s new mystery squeeze, Mary Jane Watson.

Spidey’s at Carr’s house, taking pictures for the DB, when the Doll attacks. He sets his camera to automatic and defeats Paper Doll by dragging her into Carr’s pool, exploiting her diminished lung capacity. MJ rides the battle out in Carr’s panic room, and Peter never knows she’s there.

With Paper Doll unconscious, Peter takes his camera’s memory card to Dexter Bennett, snaps it in front of him, and says he never even looked at the photos. Bennett fires Peter and warns him that he’s now on “the list.”

Before departing for LA, Mary Jane signs an autograph for Sara Ehret, a “huge fan.”

THOUGHTS:

According to several interviews, Dan Slott originally conceived “Peter Parker: Paparazzi” as a two-parter, but later expanded it to include Mary Jane. It appears that, since by then the writers had already mapped out most of the year, MJ’s involvement couldn’t make waves big enough to affect their plans. So, instead of the honest to God answers that any satisfactory Mary Jane appearance would need to include, we only get more teases and vague verbal hints that MJ might know some secret about something somewhere. Straczynski already wrote a perfect Pete and MJ near miss story in Vol. 2 #49, in comparison to which this is a hollow, pointless exercise.

Besides that one huge flaw, I enjoyed this issue. Grossly deformed characters or not, Marcos Martin’s art masterfully guides the eye through pages and individual panels with an effortlessness paralleled by few other storytellers. Occasionally, Martin forgoes conventional panels and finds new ways to present narrative through art. One page shows Mary Jane standing in front before a security monitor set, each screen showing part of Spidey and Paper Doll’s thrilling showdown as they fight through the mansion. Other times, Marcos will represent several panels worth of movement in a single image. His pictures flow so clearly that one hardly needs text to follow a sequence. That’s a good thing, because Slott’s dialogue never reads as smoothly as Guggenheim’s or Wells’.

Paper Doll continues to be a creepy, yet visually hilarious villain, so she stands out as the most promising new bad guy in literally decades. She has a logical weakness, and I liked seeing Spider-Man once again use his brain to discover an enemy’s vulnerability.

This issue also provides an important piece in the puzzle of Sara Ehret, which is still the most interesting BND subplot. It now seems more likely that Sara simply enjoys dressing up like her favorite celebrity and less likely that she’s a fragment of Mary Jane’s pre-OMD personality, as some have suggested.

Peter leaving The DB and moving into Vin Gonzales’ apartment with the help of his entire supporting cast gave a nice sense of closure to the ending. It feels like the new status quo’s pieces are all in place, and, after a generally decent but seldom great 16 issues, I finally see a brand new day approaching.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

Label on Box: “DO NOT OPEN! PETER ONLY!”

RATING:

3.5 webheads out of 5. As in his first arc, which introduced Spider-Man’s misguided new reality, Slott made an unexciting premise into an okay story. Hopefully he’ll do even more with his next effort, August’s “New Ways To Die.” It certainly looks good on paper.

REVIEWED BY: CrazyChris

8 Responses to “THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #561 Review”

  1. #1 Spideydude! says:

    Very Good Review Chris. I’ll talk in more detail when we Podcast it, But I agree, that the Art was good storytelling wise, but I wasn’t a great fan of the style.

    Cheers Mate!

    -SD

  2. #2 InsaneJonny says:

    Mostly agree with your review Chris but the idea of MJ remembering OMD (as hinted) and in bed with another man just doesn’t sit right to me. Had MJ not appeared this issue would of been a great deal better.

    If you want people to use the comments feature more often you have to get the reviews up quick before all the discussions been had in the message board thread already.

    I’m really annoyed (and puzzled) by another two (and a third )Bob Gale issues coming up now. Sooner we get back to Guggenheim the better for I still think his arc has been the best yet (even though I hate Menance as a bad guy)

  3. #3 funnykay says:

    I agree that it was a good issue.
    The Best of BND so far.
    I got respect for Slott and this showed why. He wrote a good story (other than MJ) and the art was exquisite. It reminded me of Ditko but with an identity of it’s own recognisable to Martin. Good stuff.

    funnykay

  4. #4 Zarius says:

    Slott’s best issue yet, and mainly because he finally dumps several nagging notions of BND Peter’s shady and disgusting character. His handling of MJ was the best the character has been written in years…although sleeping with Carr has to be Mephisto urging her to…she seriously wouldnt get over Peter that quickly, and the final scenes sort of echo this from Slott as well. I’m glad we have writers like him remembering the fans in the midst of this mandated nonsense of faux spin, bad ideas, and declining sales

    This will never be “Amazing Spider-Man” to me, that titles hasnt mean a thing in years (viva la Amazing Spier-Girl), but much like the 1999 reboot, there’s some good in amongst the crap

  5. #5 Abram L says:

    I too think that this was an Okay issue, and like Insanejonny says Guggenheim is by far the best writer on the arc, he has Spiderman humor down to a T. Oh by the way im new here, im Abram and im from Sweetwater TX, i recently got into collecting Spiderman comics, but ive been around them for years due to my older brother reading them when he was in he mid teens. Keep up the good reviews :D

  6. #6 rockinjohn says:

    paper doll is an awesome villian and she is drawn good i hope she returns

  7. #7 IrishLad says:

    Well, got my box from MOC yesterday and I have to say 561 is one of my favourite issues in quite some time. A great Ditoesque villain …and a female villain to boot – cool!
    I think people who jumped down the Braintrust’s throat over certain “issues” were probably happy to see some of those notions addressed here.
    Remember, folks these things are planned out to past 600 so wait and in Joe Q’s words keep reading.
    Anyway doesn’t Marcos Martin draw a great ass on MJ??

  8. #8 Discount Mephisto Mens Black Shoes says:

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