“Vengeance Is Mine!”

Writer: Roger Stern

Penciler: Lee Weeks

Inker: Lee Weeks

Colorist: Dean White

“Brother, Can you Spare a Crime?”

Writer: Mark Waid & Tom Peyer

Penciler: Todd Nauck

Inker: Todd Nauck

Colorist: Andres Mossa

Cover Art: Lee Weeks & Dean White

Variant Cover Art: Michael Del Mundo

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

The Amazing Spider-Man #s 229-230 are widely regarded as one of the best Spider-Man stories ever told.  That seminal story – “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!” – can frequently be found on many Top-10 lists of Spider-Man arcs, including mine.  The writer of that story, Roger Stern, has paid another visit to the web-head and the Brand New Day universe to pen a quasi-sequel to that classic story.  Instead of John Romita Jr., the penciler of those classic issues, he brings along another previous collaborator in Lee Weeks.

The Plot

Continuing directly from last issue

Spider-Man battles Captain Universe, who is intent on killing the Juggernaut, across the city (and even into New Jersey!).  Juggernaut revives and joins the battle.

The Good

Once again, Lee Weeks knocks it out of the park.  This issue is a tour-de-force of action, and Weeks choreographs it brilliantly – from fisticuffs on the ground to balletic aerial battles.  He gives us a spindly Spider-Man, a sleek Captain Universe, and a bulky Juggernaut, and he does it in a beautifully rendered version of New York City.  He also gets bonus points for drawing Juggernaut in a way that makes it look like there’s an actual human head in that helmet (some artists draw the head too wide, and that always bothers me).

These kinds of issues are tough to pull off from a writing standpoint, because there needs to be more than just yuks and punches.  Roger Stern does a nice job of working in useful exposition – for example, Spidey briefly explains the Captain Universe concept for those readers that might not be aware.  He also gives us some characterization with Captain Universe, showing that he doesn’t quite have a full grasp of his powers and his mission just yet.  We also get the sense that this Captain Universe is using his powers selfishly, as opposed to using them for the goals of the Enigma Force, which is a conflict that provides secondary intrigue.

The issue is solidly entertaining from start to finish.  I can’t say that I was ever bored reading it, which is another check in the plus column.  The good Spidey quips help that.

The Bad

Where the hell is everybody?  No, seriously – outside of a brief cameo by Carlie Cooper in the first part of the story, we haven’t seen any of Spidey’s supporting cast in this arc so far.  I mildly accused this of being a stock story in my previous review, but this just cements its place outside of the timeline.  I would have appreciated a brief, one- or two-page cutaway to other characters to break up the story a little.  At the very least, I’d like to know what the heck is going on with the negative-ized Aunt May (who we haven’t seen since issue 621).

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the battle royale, the combination of this issue and the previous feels a little padded.  Three issues for this story may have been a bit much, unless the final part of the story is so dense that it couldn’t have been told as, say, the second half of this issue.

Have you noticed that I haven’t mentioned the backup story yet?  Well, there’s a reason for that – the backup story is a pointless waste of space.  Whereas the main story gives us a classic-style Spider-Man, the backup seems to exist for the sole purpose of re-establishing the “jerkass loser” Spidey that pervades this entire reboot.  (And get over it – this is a damn reboot.  They can call it whatever they want, but a reboot by any other name still smells as stinky.)  Remember, folks: these backups weren’t part of the original solicitations and orders.  They were added later … perhaps as a precaution to fight the “stock” status of the main feature?  Are there any conspiracy theorists out there that can spare the time from watching the Zapruder Film long enough to back me up on this?

I had to drop an extra buck for those 8 pages.  And I’ll have to do it again next week, too.  This makes me angry.  And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

The Ugly

Check out the letters page.  In response to question #2 from the first letter, Wacker promises that we’ll be seeing The Freak again this summer.

Everybody say it with me now …  [audio:|titles=NOOOOO]

The Bottom Line

I liked the main feature, and once again it’s worth buying for the art alone.  The backup and requisite price mugging drive it down a bit, though.  It may also be a little padded for some people’s taste.  That’s why I’m going to give it a slightly-lower-than-last-time 3.5 out of 5 webheads.

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