THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #576
In the last issue, readers got to see their favorite wall crawler go toe to toe with the underworld’s toughest villain, Hammerhead. This time around, Spidey goes for the knockout, and learns that there is hope for kid-hoodlums…or is there? Do “gangstas” really get taken down easily, and do stories always end happily ever after? And, since when has Spider-man been able to fracture the fourth wall?
WRITER: JOE KELLY
PENCILS: CHRIS BACHALO
INKS: BACHALO, MENDOZA, TOWNSEND, AND VEY
COLORS: BACHALO AND FABELA
LETTERS: VC’S CORY PETIT
PLOT: The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man has been beaten to a pulp by the now vicious Hammerhead! With a broken mandible, several fractured bones, and a cracked hip, Spidey seems down and out for the count. Fortunately, Peter manages to pull himself together and save the 2K kids from joining the other heap of bodies on the floor. But, when Spidey passes out from exhaustion, the hoods steal his web-cartridges and spider-tracers.With minor scrapes and cuts, Hammerhead undergoes “repairs” from Mr. Negative while the recovered Peter and the spunky Nora Winters search the Bronx for the 2K kids. However, after they discover Harold, one of the members, Peter pulls a disappearing act in an attempt to rescue Harold’s brother, the whimsical science-wiz Anthony. Spidey arrives to find Anthony and other children pointing guns at his face. Realizing he had been played, Peter learns that the kids have joined Hammerhead. Just then, the flattop himself breaks in and the fighting bells ring. Anthony reveals that he never intended to kill Spidey, but instead wanted to lure him into stopping Hammerhead.
Spider-man saves the day, breaking Hammerhead’s hip and scoring a date with Nora. Niiiiiicccee.
LIKES: I know not many agree, but I still enjoy Bachalo’s work, the dialogue between the Peter and Nora.
DISLIKES: Kelly’s revealed conclusion and seemingly drastic change of the series’ flow with illogical and weird juxtapositions
THOUGHTS:: While it may seem almost the same from my last review, which was fairly open-minded and positive toward Kelly’s run, I have to be honest in the fact that I enjoyed this issue. That is not to say, however, that I had a few dislikes. I realize that many faithful and dedicated fans thought the last issue to be a total failure, but I still think this arc was something different for the series. A change of pace, if you will. Sure, it had a very surreal take on the web-head, and as a fan, I found myself not impressed and not overly enthused, which is what I think many were searching for. However, it remains that overall, while it may not have been a Strazynski and Romita story, it was an enjoyable read.
Furthermore, the story had a profound meaning behind it, as opposed to the superficial tones easily identifiable. The monochromatic Mr. Negative is using Hammerhead, a criminal Kelly revealed to have had his childhood literally stripped away from his very grasp. Taking advantage of the immeasurable strength he was given, Mr. Negative employs Hammy to give gangs a choice; support his regime, or simply die. Hammerhead, viciously blinded by his employer’s generous gift of supremacy, barks to Spider-man that children on the streets have no hope, that there are no lives for them, that they are trash that can never be treasure. But Spidey still retains hope, he still has faith that he can change Harold, that people can change and pull themselves out. Even Vin, Peter’s roommate calls them animals, “soldiers” bred to serve the disheveled underworld of crime and near the end, it seems as though the kids have given into the pressure. But then, Hammerhead loses, not just by Spidey’s hands, but also because of the fact that Harold and Anthony didn’t give in, despite their losses, and deaths, and poverties. So here is a villain who never had a childhood, turned bad as opposed to kids who can’t live a childhood, but turn good.
In contrast, though, I must say that there were some very atypical instances, taking Kelly back to his work on Deadpool. Since when could Spidey break the Fourth Wall? In fact, since when has a Spider-man story ever been “out there” with silly and strange implications? The only Marvel heroes I have ever read to do this were Deapool and She-Hulk. Kelly’s take was very weird, and I think that was why so many couldn’t get into its flow. I mean, look at the panel with Spider-man contemplating on whether or not to hit Hammerhead from behind. An angel and a devil in spider clothing appear on his shoulder and remark when he asks if he should nail him,”@#%* it!” and “Yeah, what he said,” both agreeing to kill the gangster. This is the kind of archetypical material seen in cartoons. That got me thinking that Bachalo’s cartoony style worked very well with Kelly’s pace.
Speaking of Bachalo, he created some great splash pages, especially the first with Spider-man’s blood-soaked head, and even the collage with Hammerhead spiking a Terminator-like face, revealing his adamantium laced skull. Furthermore, I particularly liked Bachalo’s final one-panel shot of Peter hearing Nora’s date entreaty. And, did you pick up the couple little easter eggs, like the issue number 576 printed on the dilapidated car Spidey climbs over, or even the subtle fact that the 2K Anthony’s last name was Winslow and he had the stereotypical Erkel glasses? Maybe I am stretching it with that one.
Finally, I did not much care for the conclusive fight between Spidey and Hammy. Didn’t Spidey just get the @#%* knocked out of his little spider body? And he beat Hammy by breaking his ADAMANTIUM hip? I feel Kelly could have found a more innovational method to stop him.
RATING: I give the issue a 3.5, again. The cover gets a 3. What happened to the elephant-like texture on Hammerhead’s skin? Although, it is cool to have issues that link together to form one composite shot, in this case both the protagonist and villain at a stalemate punch.