Berryman vs Brand New Day: ASM #555-#557

Amazing Spider-Man #555-#557

Zeb Wells & Chris Bachalo’s Blizzard Arc

With the calamity of Bob Gale’s Freak arc behind us (at least until the next review – ugh!) it’s time to tackle the three part Blizzard story by Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo from the summer of 2008 – almost exactly two years ago.   Keep both hands and feet inside the vehicle while moving and let’s get started!


A blizzard comes “out of nowhere” despite the DB having run a story on its impending arrival in the last arc.  A scientist goes nuts and brings a Mayan death god named Kuhul Ajaw to New York.  Wolverine shows up and leaves.  Homeless people help Spider-Man stop the bad guy.  Everyone fights.

More below the fold…


We talked last time about Dexter Bennett referring to the freak out of nowhere blizzard that his own paper reported was coming in the last review so there’s no need to go over that again here.  It’s an editorial snafu, the stuff of the No-Prize.

When this arc came out I remember some feeling it was the strongest of all the Brandnewverse stories up to that point.  I don’t recall people criticizing Chris Bachalo’s art on this story as much as they did with the recent ‘Shed’ debacle but I could be wrong.  Normally I save the art for last but let’s go ahead and get this out of the way now.  I like Bachalo’s work and always have.  So I definitely didn’t mind it on this story.  His work on Amazing Spider-Man though has definitely brought about some hot button opinions – same with Eric Canete’s artwork on Amazing Spider-Man #611.  With Bachalo though I make the same argument I made with Canete because I kept seeing people saying (or words to the effect) that they’re just no good.  I’ll never say that.  I think they’re both extremely talented.  But with that being said I don’t think their styles are suited for Amazing Spider-Man.  So while I liked Bachalo’s work here I did feel it as out of place and began to think of something Spidey-related that it would suit, as well as this story.  But more on that later.

Early on in the first part of this story Zeb Wells gives us the biggest problem with ‘One More Day’ when Spidey and Wolverine are together in Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum.  Strange materializes and addresses them both… but if Strange is being written correctly alarm bells the size of Texas would be ringing in his head where Spider-Man’s concerned.  You see Strange is ‘cosmically aware.’  Some of you are scratching your heads and wondering what that means so I’ll explain.  In the Marvel Universe there are many individuals (Strange, Adam Warlock, Thanos, Moondragon, others) who can literally feel disturbances in the fabric of the universe the way Yoda can detect disturbances in the force.  In fact it is this very ability that Wells utilizes when Strange becomes aware of the advancing threat, to the point that it makes him collapse (though Strange doesn’t have to question the universe beforehand).  As the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange is extremely sensitive to magical and cosmic shenanigans.  And having him address Spider-Man without feeling that something is very wrong with his longtime friend is completely wrong here.  Joe Quesada’s ‘One More Day’ should logically start falling apart at the seams at this point because Strange would definitely know something’s very off with Spider-Man and, being a friend and ally, he’d look into that.  But then again it’s a ‘Brand New Day’ so there’s no need to adhere to the characters or even to have a working knowledge of how some characters’ abilities work, right?

This dovetails nicely into the next problem with Wells’  story.  If the impending doom is grave enough to knock Doctor Strange right the Hell out then the threat level’s pretty high.  So off Wolverine and Spider-Man go, heading into the Blizzard, and they wind up fighting henchmen.  When Spider-Man tells Wolverine not to kill them (as he’s done many times before) he just storms off to let Spider-Man deal with the colossal cosmic threat on his own.  And just as quickly as he came in, Wolverine’s gone.  It’s almost like they threw him in just so he could get on the cover to boost sales.  Hmm…

While Spidey’s getting stuffed with old newspaper by a homeless guy to stay warm, Vin and Carlie are across town at the police station where Spidey’s brought the scientist he and Wolverine rescued earlier, as well as the henchmen.  Vin’s busy writing “I LOVE YOU CARLIE!” on his forehead like the big unstable lug he is (because, you know, she’s so alluring and perfect with her quirky booksmarts and underplayed nerdy hotness) but she’s just not that into him.  If ever two characters deserved one another, it’s these two.

Having the rescued scientist be a mad doctor type bent on Armageddon was a nice touch, actually.  Wells did a good job with making this guy sinister, to the point of having him murder one of the defeated henchmen at the police station in a bloody display clearly appropriate for ‘Ages 9 and Up.’  But as soon as this guy grabbed Carlie with plans on cutting her up as God-bait… well I was a quick fan.  And honestly the main bad guy, the summoned Mayan god-thing ‘Kuhul Ajaw’ was fairly interesting.  Or he was until he went out like a weenie.  The ending was pretty anti-climactic and the army of homeless guys throwing Molotov cocktails being played for laughs was out of place.

In fact out of place is a great phrase for this flawed story.  It’s not a terrible story, it’s just not Amazing Spider-Man caliber.  If this had been a three-parter in, say, Spider-Man’s Tangled Web it would have come across better – and Bachalo’s art would’ve been much better suited for one of the old off-title books like Tangled.  But this was the first arc where we didn’t have much more aside from Spider-Man and three of his new supporting cast (Vin, Al and Carlie).  So it felt… off.  It felt like awkward, like trying to take Dobie Gillis and wedge him into the Oswald State Correctional Facility.


Good Stuff?

Like I said earlier I like Bachalo’s art and so it didn’t make me cringe or anything the way it does with some.  But I do think it’s out of place on this book.

The ‘mad scientist’ twist was nicely done and the ‘Big Bad’ was the most interesting Brandnewverse villain since Mr. Negative.  After the Freak arc I was just glad to not have a villain talking with all the fake comic swearing every other word.  And he seemed pretty mighty until the gimpy way he went out.

Bad Stuff?

Knowing how the Marvel Universe works (or worked before people at Marvel stopped caring), the moment Dr. Strange saw Spider-Man post-OMD should’ve been the beginning of undoing OMD.

Carlie became even more annoying.  I’d cross my fingers and hope a grisly end awaits her but since she’s named after Quesada’s daughter I’m afraid we’re stuck with Carlie Sue for awhile.

I also could’ve done without Verne’s homeless army lighting up their booze.  Luckily for Verne, Peter Parker was nice enough to throw him a Jackson so he could run back out and buy more of the stuff destroying his liver.

But thank God no one was smoking!

–George Berryman

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