After the last depressing yet inspiring issue of Amazing, readers get to enjoy some “brand new writing” from Joe Kelly, new author on board the series. However, after the last issue’s bold take on the Iraq War, seen through Flash Thompson’s hostile engagement, it was nice to set back and uncover an interesting and possibly key arc in, what I feel, is a new pace for our hero. This is definitely evidence that our favorite web-head’s biography is adapting to the strong tone of post-Brand New Day.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #575
WRITER: Joe Kelly
PENCILS: Chris Bachalo
INKS: Tim Townsend
COLORS: Bachalo and Fabela
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit
I do not want to dwell too much within the plot details of the issue, but the tale opens with an interesting exposition as readers see a grotesquely huge homeless woman by the name of Greta, being chased by what appears to be clowns riding some sort of flying machines or gliders. With their bright red noses and white face paint reminiscent of Ronald McDonald, the well-armed hunters are chasing this hobo of a woman because of a particular pet she has been keeping; Simon, a cybernetically enhanced rat.
Of course, Spidey saves the day. But what praise and thanks does he receive for rescuing the dumpster-damsel? That’s right, a big, wet kiss from the pariah. Meanwhile, Hammerhead, with his newly adamantium enhanced body(move over Wolverine), decides to help Mr. Negative expand his delinquency by taking matters into his own hands.
Peter, recovering from his little make-out session with the not-so-little Greta, thankfully meets a hottie working with him at the Front Line Newspaper business in Brooklyn, by the name of Nora Winters. The two are assigned to cover and report on the Bronx Outreach Education Fair where they discover teen gang members of the mysterious 2K. The story concludes with Hammerhead attacking the gang and killing several members. Spidey comes in to rescue the misunderstood kids, but falls a victim to the new power of Hammerhead!
Likes: Bachalo’s artwork, the pace of the story, and the refreshing and original look at Spidey from Joe Kelly
Dislikes: I am a little skeptical towards Peter’s Shirt! Character Personalities
As a not-so-big fan of the choice to erase Spidey’s past through the Brand New Day story-line, a whole mythos that has been built upon for more than 40 years, I still remain a little skeptical. It is not that I don’t enjoy Brand New Day, (it is quite the contrary, actually) but as a hardcore fan of Spider-man, I just can’t see Peter Parker giving up his present life with Mary Jane Watson to save his elderly Aunt May.
I know the guilt Peter feels for his Uncle Ben’s death, and I know that he would give his web-shooters up to just be able to amend his past. But if there is anything that Peter Parker has learned throughout his whole life journey, it is that you cannot, no matter how hard you try, correct the past. Peter has learned the hard way, that one can only continue to push forward, and learn from their mistakes, giving their best to make a difference. Peter has learned that with great power, there must also come great responsibility. I still love Spider-man, and continue to collect it. Just because I don’t agree with the decision, I still heartily enjoy the series with an open mind.
Now that that is out of the way, we can get into the nitty gritty.
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of Joe Kelly, at first. I am a huge fan of Ben Ten, the Cartoon Network cartoon series that Kelly co-created, but I was unaware of how Kelly would adapt to the writing genre of comic books while also retaining an intellectual and mature tone on the series, instead of a kid-oriented cartoon pace. Furthermore, I wasn’t so impressed with the writer’s short story in The Amazing Spider-man Extra one-shot, the tale that set up this new saga.
To my astonishment, I was really surprised that I enjoyed this issue. I found it to be fresh, welcoming, and even contemporary, which is what Brand New Day is all about. Joe Kelly has really brought something different, something unique to the table of Spidey’s mythos. This tale actually has a somewhat different tone than the usual Spider-man comics, and its pace is very specific. Kelly wasn’t the only one I was concerned with, though. Chris Bachalo’s art plays a major role in the perception of the story, returning since his first run through issues 555-557. I have sort of been a fan of Bachalo’s new, cartoony style, which differs completely from his work on DC’s Death series, and I really thought that it worked well with Kelly’s storytelling methods. His portrayal of Peter is rather different from what readers are used to seeing, though.
The really unique thing that I picked out as a film major and critic, was the almost cinematographic panels that Bachalo created. It felt as though I was reading right from a movie. For instance, in the scene where Hammerhead meets with Mr. Negative in a Japanese style garden, I could almost hear the water gently running through the stream as Hammerhead cautiously but confidently stepped into the area. Another example is the particularly chilling scene after the previous, where Hammerhead butts into a 2K gang member, disfiguring his entire face and stretching his now broken jaw.
One thing I didn’t like though, was how some of the characters were portrayed. Spider-man seemed almost…lame, like just another run-of-the-mill hero. I mean, he was acting like a complete buffoon when he interrogated the reluctant and seemingly innocent 2K teen. Furthermore, he seemed like a complete moron through the rather surreal and satirical dialogue. And don’t even get me started on Peter Parker’s shirt! With absolutely no offense to people fond of that clothing, it didn’t fit within the boundaries of Peter Parker’s persona.
Hammerhead’s personality seemed distorted a little as well. Yes, he is a cold blooded murderer. Yes, he is a Scarface type of mobster who milks the whole gangster/mafia persona, but he seemed a little too mean. A little too violent. When we see Hammerhead in the Lifeline mini series of old, he has an ethical sensitivity, a cognizant face that allows readers to relate with him. Ever since, I have always seen Hammerhead with a sort of mind and heart beneath that hard head of his. Perhaps, though, Kelly wishes to change this perception of the villan. We will see.
Cover Rating: I give the cover a 5 out of 5. Not only does it give viewers an idea of the issue’s contents, but it’s use of tone and texture (especially the wrinkled, animal-like skin on Hammerhead’s fist) really brings the piece a movement and dimensionality.
I give this issue a 3.5 out of 5. It was nice to feel refreshed and to see a different take on our “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-man, but it had some minor inconsistencies with the characters’ personalities.