Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Robert Atkins
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Story Title: “Red Headed Stranger: Deconstructing Peter”

The Plot

Stolen life. Kitchen encounter. Stalker stalked. Negotiations go well. Harry endangered.

The Commentary

Before I get into the review I have to…literally have to discuss this cover.

Is it me or does Mary Jane as presented on this cover look like a cosplayer that really tried to pull off the look and failed epically?

For those of you not hip to the lingo these kids use today cosplaying is the act of dressing like a fictional character and acting like them to one extreme or another. I attended DragonCon here in Atlanta last week and the place was full of cosplayers, most of which looked great. There is always one or two, though, that can’t get it right. Maybe they are the wrong body type. Maybe they just don’t have a good costume. Maybe they aren’t…attractive enough. In any case there are usually one or two costumes that don’t work and this cover looks like a comic book version of that.

Seriously. Is that a dude in a Mary Jane outfit or what?

In any case I really dug this comic. While the title of this issue, “Deconstructing Peter” was a bit on the nose but it was also entirely accurate. Not only did we get more of the Brand New Chameleon but we also got to see how an outsider that is unaware that Peter is Spider-Man would view his life. This was a well written character study and is the best issue of this series to come out since I have been reviewing the title.

What surprised me was how well Fred Van Lente paced the issue and how every encounter the Chameleon have came back at the end to serve the overall theme. In his own twisted way the Chameleon helped those around him. He definitely improved relations between Peter and Michelle, though that did make me feel a tad uncomfortable. At least it wasn’t a one night stand. The scene with MJ’s stalker was amazingly brutal and ended up getting a potentially dangerous man away from her. Sure all he had was a script this time but he seemed a bit obsessed and that sort of thing rarely goes well. Even the scene with Flash was served as some get back for the way Flash treated Peter in high school.

It was weird. The Chameleon was almost noble though I can’t imagine he does this for every person he impersonates. He said he does towards the end but I didn’t really get that feeling that the guy he killed in the previous issue got as much special treatment as Peter did. Still, no matter the motivation the Chameleon did take the time to learn about the life Peter leads and tried to make it somewhat better and while killing Harry may not be the best thing for Peter it will definitely make an impact.

The Parting Thoughts

It was nice to see two solid issues in a row. From the first scene with Michelle to the last scene where Peter somehow survives an acid bath I was lost in this issue, even more so than the first chapter of American Son, which I also liked quite a bit. The only thing I didn’t like about this story is the knowledge that it is a one-time deal. You can’t play this card again and that makes me worry about the rest of the story. Will it end up being as good as this and the previous issue or will it follow the route that issue 601 took?

Only time and the next issue will tell. In any case I was very happy with this installment and hope against hope that this level of quality will continue.

4 out of 5 webheads.

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