“Shed, Part One”

Writer: Zeb Wells

Penciler: Chris Bachalo

Inker: Tim Townsend and Jaime Mendoza

Colorist: Antonio Fabela

Cover Art: Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend

Variant Cover Art: Joe Quinones

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

Suspenseful.  Well-illustrated.  Exciting.  Character-driven.  A great setup for future issues.

All of these statements perfectly describe The Spectacular Spider-Girl #1, which hit stores today.  Unfortunately, I’m not reviewing that book.  I have to review The Amazing Spider-Man #630 instead.

Give me a second to pull some whiskey, and then we can start.  **GLUG**

The Plot

Spider-Man and the Black Cat bust up some crime.  Aunt May acts like a bitch again.  Curt Connors gets jerked around by family services, his boss, and even his lab assistant.  The Kravinoffs continue their machinations.  Peter and Carlie grow closer.  Connors flips his lid.

The Good

We get to see a couple of supporting characters that aren’t Carlie Cooper!  It’s been a while since we’ve seen Harry, and although he only shows up briefly, it was good to see that the Webheads haven’t forgotten that he exists.  Negative Aunt May shows up again, and … well …

There are some clever (if overly “cute”) dialogue exchanges in this issue.  I like good wordplay when it’s used correctly, and Zeb Wells got to show off some snappy banter in a few spots.  The bit with Carlie was a good example of this.

The Bad

Everything else.

Okay, that’s a cheat.  Allow me to explain …

To begin with, the issue starts with a Black Cat scene that seems to exist solely to remind us that (a) she has a civilian identity working at the Mayor’s office, and (b) she and Peter are sex buddies, and not dating.  Okay …?  Why was this scene necessary?  For one thing, we haven’t seen anything regarding the mayoral job subplot outside of a short, lousy backup from many months ago.  I really don’t care about it, because we haven’t seen it have any impact on the stories at all.  As far as the sex thing, they don’t have to beat us over the heads with it every single time she shows up.  WE GET IT.  We don’t need to be reminded constantly that she likes the taste of his salami.  (And if you think that reference is a bit much for a front-page article, don’t bother to complain.  If they can talk frankly about this in an A-rated comic, I can talk about it in a PG-rated article.)

Aunt May makes another appearance, still under the influence of being made “negative.”  This subplot has lasted well past its expiration date, and frankly I’m so tired of it that I would rather experiment with other things past their expiration date, like bologna.  (Is anybody else sensing a deli meats theme to this review?  Also, why am I asking so many rhetorical questions?)  Seriously, though, can we just freaking get on with this already?  Isn’t the entire point of publishing this book three times a month so that we can get snappier, faster storylines?  When Aunt May married J. Jonah Jameson Sr., that was the perfect opportunity to write her out of the series – they could move to Florida like a lot of retired couples and live their twilight days happily ever after.  Instead, we get this lame-ass attempt to make her relevant to the ongoing narrative.  Honestly, that great short by J.M. DeMatteis from Web of Spider-Man a few months ago should have been “The End” for Aunt May.  That would have been a much better way to go than this nauseating waste of a plotline.

Curt Connors has problems with his son, and is fighting to suppress his inner Lizard.  Ho, hum.  I didn’t find that story very interesting the first twelve times I read it, and it’s not very interesting here either.  There’s a mildly entertaining twist to it, but nothing that changes my opinion of this overly recycled plot.

Lastly, but certainly not to be ignored in terms of significance, is that art.  Chris Bachalo’s art has been described to me as an acquired taste, and let me state clearly that I haven’t acquired it.  It’s one thing to have an exaggerated style, but it’s another thing to draw Spider-Man like a Muppet Babies version of the character.  This issue is a mess – Spider-Man looks like a garbage bag filled with cotton, Harry Osborn looks to be about 45 years old, and some pages are so spare in terms of background illustration that they appear to take place in monochromatic voids in space.  I liked his art a lot better fifteen years ago when he drew things that looked like the things they were supposed to look like.  And, thanks to Donovan for reminding me – in a couple of scenes, Connors has two arms, whereas in the climactic scene at the end, he only has one.  What the — ?!

By the way, if Curt Connors needs a serum to suppress his Lizard transformations, why in the holy hell doesn’t he carry multiple vials of the stuff on his person at all times?!

The Ugly

If you’re like me, you probably skim over the introduction page.  After all, I read the book regularly, so I should be aware of what’s going on.  Since the Q train was running a little slow today, I decided to read it.  And boy, did it piss me off.

If the recap page is to be believed, thanks to “unemployment, an aunt who has her hands full with a new marriage, and his own exhaustion, Peter Parker has slowly started to lose steam.”  Really?  Because outside of being told so by that sentence, I haven’t gotten any of that from the actual stories.  “After facing down foe after foe, Spider-Man has been drained emotionally and physically.”  Wow, Peter is pretty a pretty impressive actor, then, because I haven’t gotten that impression at all from the stories I’ve been reading.

Back in the Silver Age, exposition was necessary to tie together certain story elements and move the plot because the stories were usually told in a single issue.  That isn’t the case anymore.  Stories develop over multiple issues, the pagecount is larger, and “decompression” rules.  Why are we being told, rather than shown, any of this so-called “drain” on Peter?  He seems to be joking and bouncing around in the issues, but the recaps paint a different picture.  It’s as if the editorial staff and the writing staff are telling two different stories entirely …

The Bottom Line

I didn’t like this issue at all.  It’s a boring, poorly told setup to a story I have no interest in reading, with so many small, irritating elements that the final product is dragged down because of them.  I hope Wells has a few tricks up his sleeve for the rest of this arc, because this issue sucked.  1 out of 5 webheads.

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