AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647
The Brand New Day Finale!
Cover Art: Marco Djurdjevic
Variant Cover: Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, and Justin Ponsor
Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!
I must begin with an apology to reader Two-Bit Specialist. Apparently, my fakeout lead-in to the last review roped him in and got his hopes up that the issue would be good. Don’t worry, TBS (wait … will Ted Turner sue me if I call you that?), this time I will do no such thing! Let me tell it to you straight: this issue is self-aggrandizing tripe. I hope you appreciate the honesty!
(I’m going to break format on this review and cover each story one-by-one to make it easier to follow.)
Story #1: “Another Door”
The first story out of the gate is the main feature, running at a slightly-more-than normal length of 24 pages. It was written by Fred Van Lente, penciled and inked by Max Fiumara, and colored by Morry Hollowell.
Vin Gonzales is out of prison, and Michele is waiting for Peter to join her to go pick Vin up. Meanwhile, Peter is out shopping with Carlie Cooper for a going-away Halloween party for Harry. After a talk, Carlie says she’s not going to pick up Vin or to the Halloween party, and subsequently she wigs out at Peter for not “defining” their relationship. After Carlie storms off, Peter leaves the store and comes across a kidnapping in progress – Overdrive is kidnapping a Paris Hilton stand-in in her limo. Spidey leaps into action in a Halloween costume version of his iconic suit and saves the girl, while Overdrive gives chase by transforming the limo into the infamous Spider-Mobile. Spidey saves the day, and Peter actually beats Michele to Vin. Later, Vin visits Carlie at work to talk. That night, the party kicks off at Aunt May’s house, and Carlie shows up with Vin (in a Black Cat costume … UGH … that Peter somehow manages to find so convincing that he actually thinks it’s Felicia … DOUBLE UGH). Vin reveals that he is now an emissary of Norman Osborn, delivering a cryptic warning to Harry and his son Stanley. Peter heads out for some air, but he runs into Mary Jane (dressed as Jackpot … TRIPLE UGH). Mary Jane convinces Peter to start dating Carlie officially, so Peter asks Carlie to be his girlfriend. They kiss to seal the deal.
Well, let me get the good stuff out of the way first. The primary thing I liked about this story is that the artwork is actually pretty good. I was hard on Max Fiumara when he drew the Rhino issues, but I believe that his art has gotten better with each assignment. The Kraven/Kaine backup from Grim Hunt was solid, and this issue is a good showcase of his talent. The smooth coloring nicely compliments his linework. The script is occasionally sharp and witty, particularly the opening of the party. I was also genuinely shocked by the twist with Vin. Perhaps he may be fitted for a Hobgoblin suit sometime in the near future …
However, the story had many problems. For starters, it just smacked of self-referential nonsense. From the splash page “homage” to The Amazing Spider-Man #546 to the annoying “102-issues-and-counting” editor’s note to the name-dropping baby talk (go read it again if you didn’t notice the first time), this entire thing smacked of patting themselves on the back. It’s a problem with another segment in the issue as well, but as the longest feature of the book, this story took it to another level.
The narrative itself was forced and cloying. Obviously, they’ve been setting it up for Peter to date Carly Quesada Carlie Cooper from the get-go, and it’s been a remarkably slow burn. The entire process has been an agonizing mix of out-of-character moments, being outright told that Carlie is perfect for Peter, etc. In this issue, we get a prime example of how poorly the book is written to accommodate her “plot.” At the start, she’s being a shrill, obnoxious, selfish bitch. Naturally, over the course of the story, we get not one, but two characters convincing Peter and Carlie to get together. By the time I got the last page, I was so sick of reading this segment that I was about ready to just skip the rest of the issue. Thankfully, I didn’t …
Story #2: “Honor Thy Father”
The next segment is a direct epilogue to “Another Door.” Written by Zeb Wells and featuring artwork by Michael Del Mundo, this story details an after-party encounter between Harry and Vin. When Vin leaves the party, Harry confronts him outside. When Vin continues the threat, Harry lays into his ass with a Taser before delivering an epic beating and leaving Vin a bloody mess on the sidewalk.
It’s a short and simple story, but surprisingly, it’s probably the most effective of the issue. Harry is going to protect his kid no matter what, and he proves it. Wells addresses the Normie Osborn situation by having Harry explain his distance from his first son, and in doing so, Harry proves that he is going to seriously try to avoid the mistakes of his past. Suddenly, on the way out the door, they’ve done more with Harry than they had done in the previous 100+ issues! The artwork is moody and well-suited to the story as well. Wells and Del Mundo get props, because this was a great piece.
Unfortunately for us, it was followed up by …
Story #3: “Stand Off”
Written by Bob Gale, penciled and inked by Karl Kesel, and colored by Anthony Fabela, this story segment deals with a political edict by Mayor Jameson and the bureaucratic gridlock caused by a fallen lamppost in the middle of an intersection. I’m not joking.
Simply put, this story is atrocious. I mean really, this was annoying to read, it plodded along at a terrible pace, and it was an absolute waste of Kesel’s talent. They took a very mildly interesting premise and bogged it down with obnoxious dialogue sequences and stereotypically incompetent characters. Was this supposed to be some sort of political statement? I don’t get it.
Story #4: “Norah’s Last Night in NYC”
This segment was written by Joe Kelly (of course … how often does Norah ever appear in non-Joe-Kelly-written stories?) and drawn, colored, and lettered by JM Ken Niimura. Norah, fed up with New York, is about to return home to Nebraska at the urging of her mother. On her last night in New York, Spider-Man shows up to engage in some fun with her (no, not like that) by letting her punch a bad guy and web-swing with him. Afterwards, Spidey convinces her that New York needs a reporter with her honesty. The next day, Norah shows up to work and declares that she’s staying, because the city needs her.
This story is just … I can’t even describe it. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that Joe Kelly has never read a Spider-Man story before writing this garbage. It’s bad enough that he loves to shove annoying hipster Norah down our throats at every opportunity, but the only purpose Spider-Man serves in this story is to prop up Norah. Spidey is wildly out of character in letting Norah uppercut a criminal. The story doesn’t even fit into continuity correctly – even though this happens just before the Halloween party (it’s referenced in the story), Peter still works at Front Line as a photographer. Huh? I didn’t care for my Spider-Man comic randomly turning into a manga, either.
“Story” #5: “J. Jonah Jameson – The Musical”
There’s not much to say about this one. It’s a single-page fake poster for a J. Jonah Jameson musical with a title that riffs on Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. It’s written by Mark Waid, drawn by Paul Azaceta, and colored by Morry Hollowell. It’s not funny.
Story #6: “American Hero”
This Flash Thompson spotlight is written by Marc Guggenheim, penciled by Graham Nolan, inked by Mark Pennington, and colored by Anthony Fabela. Soon after the publication of an article about Flash’s Spider-Man inspiration, he’s jumped by a bunch of hoods in an alleyway. Flahs fights them off for a bit before Spider-Man swings in to help. After dispatching the foes, Flash and Spidey talk for a bit about inspiration, guilt, and friendship.
This one is a mixed bag. Like a lot of the stories in this issue, it has some pretty good artwork by comic strip veteran Graham Nolan. On the other hand, the script doesn’t live up to the art. We get another pointless and nonsensical guilt trip by Spider-Man. Flash suggests that they get together for a beer occasionally, even though Flash is a recovering alcoholic. (That’s not some minor part of the character, either! It was even a part of the last Flash story, which was solidly written by Greg Weisman.) The biggest problem with the story, though, is that Flash continues to be nothing but “the guy without legs.” It’s been about two years since The Amazing Spider-Man #574, yet little to nothing of consequence has been done with the character outside of Weisman’s story, which has virtually been ignored since. Flash is yet another character that has been botched by having too many writers and not enough editorial oversight.
Story #7: “You Again?”
Finally, we come to an odd story co-written by Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente, drawn by Adam Archer, and colored by Anthony Fabela. Tom Brennan appears (with a sleeping Steve Wacker in the background) to explain that “fan demand” has compelled them to explain what Mia Flores – the skank that kissed Peter in the opening of Brand New Day’s first arc – has been doing throughout Brand New Day. There’s not much to say of the story except that it randomly inserts Mia in multiple places throughout the BND timeline as she pursues Peter to get into Harry’s clique.
The entire story is a thinly-veiled excuse to pat themselves on the back again, crisscrossing several touchstone moments of BND. Look, there’s Mia outside of the club during the paparazzi arc! Hey, there she is at the F.E.A.S.T. Center! Wow, she crashed Aunt May’s wedding to catch the bouquet! Good, she finally caught up to Peter – no wait, it was the Chameleon! Yeah … no. This was obnoxious, annoying, and pointless. The art, once again, was damn good. In fact, I think I liked the art in this segment more than any of the others. I love art that has a slightly cartoonish, smooth quality to it (though I admit extreme bias, since that’s the effect I go for in my own art). Too bad it was wasted on such a shitty story …
This issue also has two extra features that I’ll talk about briefly.
The first is the Brand New Day Cover Gallery. Yes, you read that correctly – it’s called the Brand New Day Cover Gallery. I think anybody that argued that Brand New Day ended with New Ways to Die owes Bertone ten bucks. There’s nothing much to say about this … it’s a cover gallery full of tiny thumbnails so small that you can’t even read the issue numbers.
Following that, there are three Big Time previews. Don’t be fooled, though – only one of them is for The Amazing Spider-Man. The second preview is for the incredibly over-promoted Spider-Girl book (and anybody that knows me can tell you how I feel about that one). The third preview is for the Osborn miniseries.
After that, we get the letters page. I only mention this because at the end of the column, Wacker announces that Dan Slott will be writing the letters page shortly into Big Time.
The Bottom Line
Is this issue worth the $4.99 cover price? Hell no. Most of the artwork is good, and there manages to be a single well-written segment in here, but otherwise the rest of it is either self-referential annoyance or pure dreck. Onward to Big Time! 1.5 out of 5 webheads.