THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #571
“Opposites Attack” (Part 4 of “New Ways To Die”)
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: John Romita Jr.
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Dean White
Menace moans about how Norman’s ruining his plans for New York’s power structure, and they fight. Norman gets a few good hits in, including causing Menace’s stolen glider to self-destruct, but ultimately Menace wins and leaves Osborn beaten and bloodied. Norman finds consolation by discovering Spider-Man’s camera webbed to a ledge.
Anti-Venom stops “curing” Spider-Man when Norman’s troopers come to extract Gargan from the field. Before Brock can stop them, Songbird and Radioactive Man hit him with their powers, but it turns out Anti-Venom has none of his black counterpart’s weaknesses. Anti-Venom attempts to cleanse Radioactive Man of radiation while Spider-Man takes on Songbird. Eventually, Spidey simply runs away, having no good reason to stay and fight.
Elsewhere Harry Osborn gives the Front Line staff files implicating Oscorp in Randall Crowne’s human trafficking and sweatshop scandal. Meanwhile, the sweatshop workers find their way to the F.E.A.S.T. center, hoping for a miracle cure to their mysterious skin lesions.
The Thunderbolts regroup at their base, which Anti-Venom has infiltrated in the guise of one of Norman’s Men. Norman shows his team the camera, and tells them it means Spider-Man has been taking pictures of himself all along, with Peter Parker as front to split the profits with. What’s more, the camera follows a tracking device in Spider-Man’s costume. Knowing the frequency, the Thunderbolts can create weapons that automatically hone on the webhead.
With all the Thunderbolts in play (save Bullseye, who spends the issue locked in a chair), #571 proves a share more exciting than #570. Spider-Man vs. Songbird, Anti-Venom vs. Radioactive Man, and Norman vs. Menace are all fun, colorful sequences brought to life by John Romita Junior’s excellent pencils. New Way To Die, at least on a visual level, is still one of the year’s most exciting Spider-Man tales. And though Dan Slott’s writing varies in quality, he’s at least managed to cart out the biggest toys in Spider-Man’s sandbox in a non-arbitrary way while coherently developing nearly every subplot.
Unfortunately, when the punching and explosions peter out, the frustration sets back in. I hate to harp on the same points every issue, but the creative miscalculation to use Norman Osborn before clarifying what people like him remember about their past with Spider-Man drags down the entire story. Even someone lacking any history with Spidey could guess his identity after finding Peter Parker’s camera webbed to a roof, so if Osborn remembers ANY part of his life since becoming the Green Goblin, then not putting two and two together makes him @#$%ing retarded. Sorry, but I don’t know any other way to describe it. Perhaps Slott has a good explanation, but how does withholding it for so long serve the story?
If Osborn suffers from mental retardation, then Anti-Venom surely has ADHD. If he could stay focused on one target long enough to actually “cure” him, then both Venom and Spider-Man would probably be powerless. Brock’s single-minded relentlessness when hunting a victim has been one of his few consistent traits, so I don’t get where Anti-Venom’s impulsive personality comes from.
The dialogue ranges from unbelievably campy (“It’s like they set off bomb in the city! A baby atomic bomb and wrapped it around one man: Eddie Brock!”) to nonsensical (“can’t let the T-Bolts twig to this!”). “Twig to this”? That actually means something?
But there I go again, dwelling on the negative. A kick-ass story exists beneath the distractions and Romita makes it easy to find. I’m still excited about this arc. I still want to know more about Anti-Venom and see the Bullseye fight Slott’s built up.
3.5 webheads out of 5. For fun, you should look up “twig” on unrbandictionary.com to see just how little its slang usages make sense here.
REVIEWED BY: CrazyChris