Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Phil Jimenez
Inker: Andy Lanning
Story Title: “American Son Part 1”
Peter and Harry at the park. Wolverine and Spider-Man have a chat. A dinner party ruined. Menace returns. Spider-Man vs. Norman Osborn.
Before I get into the review proper I am going to spend valuable time griping about the cover to this week’s issue. Oddly enough it is not the art that bugs me, though I will admit that I am not a huge fan of Phil Jimenez’s artwork. Nothing against him personally as I recognize he has talent but I just don’t care for his style, especially when inked by the equally talented Andy Lanning. No, the problem I have with this issue’s cover is the UPC box. Hokey smokes does that thing make an already busy cover look bad. I realize that the powers that be probably didn’t want to cover up any of the art in the lower left hand corner but wow, that just stares at you, mocking you, making you question things about yourself and all you believe. It really takes away from a rather nice composition kind of like checking out a man or woman and thinking they have a very attractive face until you notice the giant pimple on their forehead.
So through no fault of the artists involved this issue’s cover was kind of ruined, which is sad.
This was a very strong issue and had just about everything you could want from the opening chapter of a big storyline. Creative Writing 101 will teach you that through the course of the story the protagonist and other characters should go through some sort of change and should be somewhat different at the end of the story than they were at the beginning and Joe Kelly really took his time in this issue to set up where all of the major characters are emotionally. I know what headspace Peter and Harry are in and the scene with them in the park was a nice way to show that Harry is in a good place and that his friendship with Peter is rock solid. The playful banter between the two and Harry helping Peter get the phone numbers of the women in the park was fun and a quiet way to kick things off. The characters around Peter, much like Peter himself, are usually doomed to have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things happen to them so by starting this arc with Harry having come through yet another bad time it makes the eventual drama that is going to ensue that much more tragic because this guy just can’t catch a break. Ever. That’s the sort of soap opera drama I can sink my teeth into.
The scene at the Front Line offices changed the tone slightly and brought us back to the mission Peter took on for himself last issue. He brought up…concerns that fans have had about the legitimacy of an Osborn in charge and explains why they really don’t matter to Dark Reign in general. Peter blows up at Ben, which makes sense and made for a dramatic moment. It was also indicative of how driven Peter is to bring Norman down because he normally isn’t the type to accuse Ben Urich of being scared.
The conversation with Logan was also a strong scene and brought up a question that once raged through fandom back around 1993/94; should Peter have killed the Green Goblin when he had the chance? This was a very heated debate around the time of Maximum Carnage and I distinctly remember it raging through the letters pages of Wizard Magazine back when that publication mattered. It’s a fair question too and brings up the endless debate of should heroes kill for the greater good or is that a line they can’t cross? Logan is an interesting character choice for this scene because here is a guy that has and will kill if he feels it necessary. The dynamic here was great and I especially liked the fact that Logan pointed out that killing Osborn and taking him down are two very different things. The advice he gave was sound and the capper that if he gets the chance Peter should end things permanent like that he should do so was a great moment.
There were a lot of good character moments during the dinner scene as well. It is hard to deny the comic possibilities of J. Jonah and Peter being related, even by marriage. Sure it is not as awesome as Aunt May nearly marrying Dock Ock, but still. The start of this scene was a lot of fun, which make the drama of Norman showing up and the offer he made to Harry that much better. In an issue of a lot of people talking this was by far the most riveting scene and probably one of the best Kelly has done on this title. In a way it reminded me of the Thanksgiving scene from the first movie in terms of mood and setting.
The resentment building up in Peter came to a head in the severe beating he gave to Norman. In terms of pacing the scene began with a punch to the stomach because we have the relatively pedestrian conversation between Norman and his holographic friend followed by the roof of his limo being ripped off and Norman getting carried off Amazing Spider-Man #39 style which I have to admit was a great splash page. The look on Norman’s face is priceless made all the better by the savagery of Peter’s attack. There’s no holding back here. He has to seriously weigh killing Norman or not when the call by Harry ends the butt kicking.
The last page and the revelation that Lily is from the looks of it around six months pregnant would have had more impact if the solicitations from a month or so back wouldn’t have ruined it. Even still the scene where Lily shows up at Harry’s place had, “Oh, by the way I’m all about some knocked up,” written all over it. Still it was a good enough ending and was the only part of the issue I didn’t like. Not that Lily being pregnant and this being the impetus of Harry joining up with his father doesn’t work. It does. Actually it works perfectly and makes the scene where Norman welcomes her to the family all the better because you can see that he did it mainly to manipulate his son.
The Final Analysis
This was a really good issue. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Usually I can breeze through an issue of ASM24/7 made the first part of American Son even better because it feels like there is serious movement in this title for the first time and looking ahead things don’t appear to be letting up any time soon. One of the marks of a good comic is how much the story makes you want to read the next issue. In that respect, and in others, this was a fantastic issue of ASM. pretty quick but this one seemed to take some actual time to read. The writing was very strong and I can’t complain too much about the art because it worked even if I don’t care for the artist’s style. Having this storyline come right on the heels of
In fact I am going to go ahead and give it…
5 out of 5 webheads.
This issue made me reevaluate the rule I set for myself when I started reviewing this book. Didn’t think it would ever happen but there you go.