Writer: Mark Guggenheim
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Story Title: “Character Assassination Part 1”
Boomerang and Shocker find the Bookie’s body. After an “anonymous” call to 911 the police arrive and find a Spider Tracer under Bookie’s collar. Spider-Man is shot while evading a police helicopter and after momentarily losing consciousness makes his way home. With the help of a co-worker Carlie finds a way to track the Spider Tracers. Harry proposes to Lily in his own romantic style. Based on her co-worker’s suggestion Carlie goes to Peter and Vin’s apartment. The tracking device she has starts beeping and Carlie makes a shocking discovery in Vin’s room.
Going into this issue of Amazing Spider-Man I was fairly sure that Guggenheim was not going to resolve the two big plot threads that has been dangling for close to a year now in the first chapter. What I expected to find was an introductory chapter that thrust those two sub-plots forward with a few juicy clues thrown in for good measure that would probably turn out to be red herrings. This seems to be how comic book stories, especially big ones, are structured these days. I am happy to report that Mark Guggenheim did not let me down on this front and he also delivered a solid introduction that had some great character moments as well as a well paced action sequence in the form of Spider-Man evading the police.
Seriously. This is the first big budget storyline that I have reviewed for the Crawlspace so I was kind of nervous. What if it was terrible? What if it was a complete let down? What if it was revealed that Aunt May was the Spider Tracer killer and Menace at the same time? Weirder things have happened. I mean if Mephisto can erase a marriage he can do anything, right? So I went into this issue with a very open mind and did my best to push all of my “God Brand New Day sure was a bad idea” baggage aside because like it or not this is how things are and I wanted to give the books another chance.
I’m happy I did. While there have been some pretty weak stories over the course of Brand New Day this is not one of them. Guggenheim came out swinging with a neat little conversation between Boomerang and Shocker about the importance of voting before coming across the body of Bookie. I like scenes like this. This one was a tad preachy to be sure but there is some validity to what Boomerang was saying so it was the good kind of preachy. This was Stan Lee level preachy I tell you or as I like to call it Baby Bear Preachy because it wasn’t too obvious but it wasn’t too subtle. It was just right.
The police chase was fairly intense. We’ve seen a lot of scenes over the past year of Spider-Man evading the authorities in one form or the other but the stakes were raised in this one as Spidey got tagged pretty good within three panels. This elevated the chase from the standard running and quipping to holy crap Spider-Man is losing blood and needs to get away so that he can get that looked at. The dream sequence in the middle was a nice touch because it not only gave us a little red herring but it also added to the overall drama of the scene. While I was fairly certain that Peter was going to get away there were a few moments where some doubt seeped in and I liked that as a reader.
The smaller scenes worked as well. I liked the “Two in One” program not only because it was a neat reference to the various titles that have had that name but it was a solid way of delivering exposition so that newer readers or readers who just plum forgot to read the first page could get caught up on the particulars of the election. The Carlie scenes were good as well. They had a nice build up to the “shock” ending and there were some nice character bits in there as well. Harry’s proposal was well paced though you have to feel for the guy since the girl he got down on one knee for kissed his best friend a few issues back. I also enjoyed the scene between Robbie and Jonah. It was short but reminded us that those characters are still out there and it had an amusing ending.
And then there was John Romita Jr’s art. While you could tell that it was inked by Klaus Janson JR Jr’s style shone through. I like Romita’s art. I really do. His take on Spider-Man is one of my favorites and the action and story telling were strong in this issue. I especially liked the introduction of Spider-Man into the story. It was a good, clear shot of the character in action and looked fantastic.
The Final Analysis
Overall I sincerely enjoyed the opening salvo of “Character Assassination“. The writing and art were strong, the set-up was satisfying and I liked the “shock” ending. Putting aside my preconceived notions about Brand New Day as a whole helped me enjoy this issue a lot more than I thought I would. I still have some serious problems with what went down and I will continue to have those problems but with stories like this it is almost worth it.
4 out of 5 webheads.