AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 602
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inker: Rick Ketcham and Barry Kitson
Story Title: “Red-Headed Stranger: Tenth of September”
The Chameleon at work. Spider-Man versus “Slyde”. Peter gets a new job with an old boss. Peter in trouble.
That was actually really freaking good.
No one was more surprised than I was by this and that is nothing personal against Fred Van Lente or Barry Kitson because I like both men as creators. Frankly last issue put a bad taste in my “mouth” towards the return of Mary Jane and I was under the impression that the whole story was going to follow that path.
Happily this was not the case. I will admit that the first page was a little hard to slog through because this sort of thing has become a staple in comic book storytelling. Fred uses real world events to draw us into the story because most of us can relate to the Post 9/11 world and the changes that had to be made in our everyday life and how we might have prevented it. Still this seems to have happened a lot in the past few years. What “saved” this was the next few pages where we see the Chameleon making a new mask and holy crap on a stick was that all kinds of cool. The Chameleon repeating what the man is saying to learn his voice, the hollow faces behind the Chameleon, the internal dialogue about why this man is such a perfect nobody to pose as and the acid bath just made me feel uncomfortable and I was thankful for that because it meant that the story had really engaged me.
The rest of the issue was pretty solid as well. I liked the feint we were given regarding Slyde. It led to a fairly good action scene though I will admit that seeing Spider-Man fight the cops is beginning to feel a tad bit repetitive. I also dig Peter’s new job and bringing Gloria Grant back into the series as Jonah’s Press Secretary. Its old school and a great way to have a status quo type situation not feel like a status quo type situation. Peter working for Jonah while at the same time Jonah trying to bring down Spider-Man, which I think is a classic set-up. I don’t know how long this will last but for the moment I am quite satisfied.
The scene where Peter was kidnapped was well paced as well. Ketcham and Kitson gave us the sense of confusion Peter felt as his Spider Sense was going crazy but he couldn’t figure out where the problem was coming from. The Chameleon disguised as the Statue of Liberty was neat as well and I did chuckle at the, “That’s mimes, sir,” line. This all led into one of the best cliffhangers I have seen in a comic book in quite some time. That last page didn’t quite send chills down my spine but it was creepy nonetheless and made for a great ending to an issue that surprised the heck out of me.
In all honesty this is how I would love to see the Chameleon portrayed in a future Spider-Man movie. It wasn’t a revamp and I won’t call it a comeback because for all I know he’s been here for years but Fred Van Lente gave me a villain that I could really latch on to and the art in this issue meshed well with the writing. Really and truly I could have done without the scenes with Mary Jane (well, except maybe for the last one) because this issue and this story seems (at least to me) to be less about her and more about moving the overall story along. I was glad for that too. As I previously stated I was really disappointed with the last issue so this one was a welcome change. I know Peter isn’t going to be eaten alive by acid but the drama of that last page has me excited for the next issue.
Rating: 4 out of 5 webheads.