THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #580
Spider-fans have made it to issue 580! Wow, our hero has come a long way. But at what cost? Under Quesada’s new direction, Spider-man has gone from the audacious hero he once was, to a state of retrograding imitation. Stern returns to the helm, entering the world of Brand New Day with a state of familiarity. And for the first time, I have admit to myself that I miss the old Spidey. Inconclusive, though I am, join me as I review this much anticipated issue. I don’t know what to think. I’m drawing blanks…
“FILL IN THE BLANK”
WRITER: Roger Stern
ARTIST: Lee Weeks
COLORIST: Dean White
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
Peter’s venerable Aunt May is in trouble. While she is trapped in a bank held up by super-slick criminal the Blank, Peter fears for the worst. He can’t bear to lose his aunt. He cannot make the same mistake he did with his Uncle Ben. But, the Blank walks out of the bank, confident and boisterous, just as Spider-man arrives to stop him.
Slipping away from Spidey’s clutches, literally, the Blank heads to his hotel room where he basks in money and greed. Peter, now reunited with Ray Donavon from his days at the Globe, becomes fearful and frustrated with the fact that his aunt nearly died. Donavon then invites Peter to a news briefing dealing with the robberies of the Blank.
Later, the Blank attempts to rob an armored car. Donavon discovers the vacuous-faced villain just as Spidey comes to the rescue. But how can Spider-man stop a villain smooth and glossy enough to slip out of his webs? With more webs, of course! Peter saves the day and decides to treat his aunt to some Italian cuisine, realizing that the future is blank and unpredictable. He doesn’t know what it will bring for him and his Aunt May, but he will always be there, rain or storm, to protect those he loves.
Weeks’ art is a fresh merriment!
The story was just okay, lacking qualities that could augment the tone of Amazing.
I really don’t know, folks. Despite my disagreement on Brand New Day, I tried to retain a positive attitude, a constructive enthusiasm for my favorite hero of all time. But these post Brand New Day stories seem too fraudulent and insincere towards the mythos and tone that makes up the essence of Spider-man.
Anxious for the issue, and eager to read a Stern story, I read 580 with high hopes. I am sorry to say I was not happy with it. Stern knows how to establish a firm story, but he can never seem to give his tales an engaging element, a quality that draws readers into the story. There is no class or relevance to this hasty plot, nothing that makes it out of the ordinary. I enjoy to read a Spider-man story that has deeper meaning, themes, metaphors, elements that have always given Spider-man an epic quality in the past. Elements that have allowed Spidey to connect with readers, making him one of, if not the, most iconic comic book heroes of all time.
Of course, Stern used his West Coast Avengers to bring back the Blank, one of the most dullest villains, in my opinion, to face Spidey.
What was very disappointing was the abounding feeling of hopelessness spreading through my mind. For the first time, I read Amazing and put the issue down with disgust. I had aspirations for Brand New Day, but I don’t think Spider-man is getting anywhere. Spider-man used to be the best, no exceptions, title I would collect and read. But I can’t help but feel Spider-man slipping, no pun intended, from the grasp of the portrait hero. This isn’t who Spidey is supposed to be. This review was intended to discuss Stern’s return to Amazing, but instead, I find myself criticizing the deformations of Brand New Day. I feel as though I am approaching the review too harshly, but sometimes, fans become fed up with a comic series, especially one that disregards an established mythos and transforms the hero into anything but what he was praised to be.
One thing I did find interesting, though, was Stern’s use of frustration and anger as seen through Peter’s rather out of character reaction towards Ray Donovan. Sure, he is worried about his aunt, but it felt like anger-black-suit Spidey. The last issue with Mark Waid did have a bit of that atypical irregularity as well, but it seemed a bit more believable. Furthermore, Peter’s repetition of his deceased Uncle Ben was something I wasn’t used to seeing. Before Brand New Day, Peter Parker grew and matured into a hero who put the past behind him but retained his vow to use his powers for good. But now, with that past erased and altered through Peter’s “deal with the devil,” he regards Uncle Ben’s loss as though it had happened yesterday, which makes me wonder what other aspects of Spidey’s life have been altered. Harry’s back, Mary Jane is gone, and Spidey has mechanical web shooters again, but can Gwen Stacy still be alive? Could Uncle Ben’s death be different? One thing is for sure, with Brand New Day, we may never get the answers.
2 out of 5 for the story, 4 out of 5 for the cover.