Hey, all. I’m Michael Bailey, the new reviewer for Amazing Spider-Man here at the Spider-Man Crawlspace. I know there’s been a bit of a hoopla regarding this particular issue, but I just wanted to say before I get into my review that what follows is not intended to be a slam against the last reviewer nor is it a statement to say that that reviewer was wrong. This is simply a difference of opinion. The other reviewer felt one way, I feel another. That’s the great thing about comics really; plenty of room to disagree and be civil about it.
And with that out of the way, on with the show.
TITLE: Amazing Spider-Man #580
“Fill in the Blank”
WRITER: Roger Stern
ARTIST: Lee Weeks
COLORS: Dean White
The Blank returns with a splash and stages a rather extravagant bank robbery. Unfortunately Aunt May is there leading to a confrontation between the Blank and Spider-Man. After a quick fight the Blank escapes leaving Peter angry and frustrated. Peter makes it his mission to track the Blank down, which leads to a reunion with Ray Donavon, now an agent with the F.B.I. With Donavon’s unknowing help Peter tracks down the Blank and delivers him into the hands of the authorities.
Well, if I’m going to start my tenure as the reviewer for this title then this is definitely a good way to kick things off.
In all honesty I was a little nervous about starting off with an issue by Roger Stern. I will make no bones about the fact that Stern is one of my all time favorite writers and I will also make no bones about the fact that I am most familiar with his work on the other red and blue hero. You know the guy. Red cape. Blue tights. All that jazz. I have read some of his Spider-Man work, though and it was always very solid. So I like the guy’s work and I was concerned that this would cloud my judgment and possibly make an average issue seem better than it was.
Turns out I didn’t have to worry because this was an extremely satisfying issue of Amazing Spider-Man.
In a world where a single issue takes nanoseconds to read it was nice to kick back and actually have an issue that took some time to go through. It made me feel like I got the most out of my $2.99 (ok, $2.87 minus a discount and plus sales tax), which was a nice feeling considering the economy being in such a sad and sorry state. I want to get the most bang for my comic book buck. On that front this comic was a success.
It was also nice that this was a done in one story instead of part fifteen of thirty five. Alright, that is an exaggeration but still. In this era of multi-issue storylines that fit snugly into a hardcover followed closely by the trade paperback followed by the oversized hardcover a single story is kind of refreshing.
Beyond those reasons this was a really solid issue. It was an old school story, which is fitting since the person writing it has been at this game for a while now. From the opening fight to the walking off into the sunset happy ending this book felt like I picked it up off the spinner rack in 1988 while also feeling fresh here in 2008. Stern introduces a few older characters that don’t feel old, though that could be due to the fact that I had no idea who they were before picking up this issue. The thing is I felt like I knew who they were thanks to exposition and a few well placed editor’s notes. It was the best of both worlds really. Newer readers, like me, don’t feel lost and those that have been reading Spider-Man since back in the day can look at this and say, “Hey, I remember that guy. Wow, can’t believe they brought The Blank back.”
And I really felt something for the characters as well. Peter had a strong motivation for getting his get back at the Blank. It might have been a little heavy handed in places but his love for Aunt May was strong here. The Blank himself had a lot going on as well. It might be an old concept, but the whole “my power is consuming me” thing worked well here. The characters made the story flow along smoothly and between that and the in-fight banter I was set as a reader.
Lee Weeks’ art was solid as well. I’ve liked just about everything I’ve seen from Weeks, especially his work with Peter David on the Incredible Hulk and I really dig his Spider-Man. His take has a very classic feel to it, bordering on iconic. More than that, though, he brought a lot of humanity to the characters, especially in their facial expressions. The storytelling was particularly strong and it was great to see page layouts with more than three panels in them.
I’m going to go ahead and give this story a four out of five. It nearly made the five, but the previously mentioned heavy handed nature of Peter wanting “revenge” for what the Blank did to Aunt May. It was in character to be sure but at the same time it was a little over the top at points. Also, and this may seem a little petty, I am still not thrilled with the whole Brand New Day as a concept. I may not be the most die-hard Spider-Man fan but the manner in which the new status quo was launched was very forced and out of character for the Wall Crawler. Still, Roger Stern shouldn’t have to pay for my preconceived notions nor should Lee Weeks. The two did a fantastic job of making a fun and exciting comic book.
It’s nice to be able to write that a comic I read was fun and exciting. Maybe I’m not the jaded comic fan I thought I was.
Four out of five webheads.
That’s all for now, folks. See you in seven or so.