AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #654.1

  • Writer: Dan Slott
  • Penciler: Humberto Ramos
  • Inker: Carlos Cuevas
  • Story Title: “Flashpoint”

Plot

Flash on the job. Misunderstood conversation. Venom versus Ultimatum. Flash takes a bite out of international terrorism. The Symbiote takes control. Flash and Betty have a moment.

The Commentary

And I’m back.

When Brad asked me to come on as the second-chair reviewer for Amazing Spider-Man I had some doubts. Sure it’s a fun assignment and all but I couldn’t keep a timely (that’s a joke, son) schedule before so how would this time be any different? I mean look at this review. It’s coming out five days after Gerard’s. What makes me think I can do this again?

Well for one thing the book only comes out twice a month now instead of the three, sometimes four times that it did during the initial phase of Brand New Day. Also things are different schedule wise for me now (which is actually why this initial review is a tad late though in the future expect it on the Sunday after the issue comes out) and all signs point to the gig working out better this time. So I’d like to thank Brad for giving me another shot and Gerard for being cool about me writing reviews along with him.

One last, quick note: I will not be reading Gerard’s reviews before writing my own. I don’t want his perceptions to color mine, so if we have something similar to say about the issue that is a complete coincidence. Just so’s ya know.

And now…on to the review.

I am of two minds about this issue, which I suppose is fitting in a way considering the character the story focused on. On one hand this was an entertaining, well written story where events played out pretty much like I thought they would. On the other hand…

…On the other hand where the hell was Spider-Man in this issue?

I could be wrong here so feel free to correct if you want to, but I thought the point to this whole “.1” thing was to give potential new readers a jumping on point with the main character or characters of a given title. If that is the case why did we get a back-door pilot to Venom #1 instead of a kick ass Spider-Man story that will jump start the next wave of stories? Seriously. Peter is in the book for like a page leading to a bit of bad characterization on the part of Flash (I’ll get to that in a minute) and that’s it besides the two page preview thing at the end?

WTF? OMG.

Things like this bug me. They could have either waited a month or put out a zero issue or something besides cutting Spider-Man out of his own title in a story that was supposed to attract new readers to that character.

It’s very annoying and frankly I feel a bit cheated.

Having said all of that if I judged this issue on its own merits then it was very entertaining and a solid way to introduce the concept of Flash Thompson as Venom. I had my doubts about all of this when the beans were spilled about who the new Venom was but after the preview story in the previous issue and the back door pilot we were given here I will admit that I actually like the concept. The symbiote gets weaponized and bonded to Flash Thompson with the hitch being that he can only go on a certain number of missions and the possibility that his handler might fry his brain if Flash and the symbiote get a little too close for comfort, which happens anyway, which I was expecting from page one. I mean if things didn’t go wrong you wouldn’t have a Venom series coming out.

Despite having that good idea where this particular story was going it was a fun ride getting there. The undercover sequence at the beginning was a solid way of showing Flash in his new role as super-human secret agent. I was a bit put out that my copy of the issue had what looks to be a water stain on it (which you can see to the left) but that had nothing to do with the story itself. More than anything the scene changed Flash from supporting character to protagonist in his own story. I will admit that it seemed a bit unnecessary to have Flash sneak into the party when his handler was there already but it gave Slott and Ramos an excuse to show off the new Flash Thompson as Venom so I dealt with it.

The rest of the issue was enjoyable as well. I liked the scenes between Flash and Betty though I thought it was a bit unfair of Flash to see Peter talking to Mary Jane and immediately assume that he is screwing up his relationship with Carlie. It seems a little disingenuous for a man that cheated on his significant other with a woman who was cheating on her husband to get on a high-horse about Peter having a conversation with someone. Then again Flash has a history of seeing Peter with another woman and assuming the worst so maybe this shouldn’t be surprising.

That minor quibble aside the scenes of Venom versus Ultimatum were a lot of fun. Sure it was a bit clichéd that they lose radio contact with Flash thus allowing the symbiote to take control but it had to happen somehow. I especially liked seeing Flag Smasher as he is one of my favorite Captain America villains. Sure he met a pretty gruesome fate but it led to a good comedic beat, which you can see to the right, so I can’t complain too much and the reaction of the man Flash was saving showed how horrific the concept of Venom can be.

Parting Thoughts

A fun issue that should have been more about Spider-Man than Venom. We did get that previously mentioned two page thing at the end which teased the near-future of Peter and his world but that was about it. There were some images that I latched on to, like MJ with spider powers, the Norah/Hob-Goblin thing and the Peter acting surprised at who was in the next lab over but there was also an image of the Black Cat and the whole outer space thing, which made me frown. In any case based on how much I have liked “Big Time” so far I am looking forward to the next batch of stories and it will be fun reviewing them both here and on the podcast.

(Insert pithy comment about not seeing Spider-Man in the main story here.)

3.5 out of 5 webheads.

17 Responses to “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #654.1 REVIEW”

  1. #1 Fred says:

    Very good review but i respectfully disagree. i thought the book was awful, the writing was juvenile and the characterization especially for Flash felt forced. Humberto Ramos art for this issue felt rushed in my opinion, not very polished like the other issues he has drawn. I will agree however that this should have been Venom 0 other than a point 1 issue for Spider-Man, which it should have been in order to see the ramifications of the last issue.

    This does not give me much hope for the venom series or the future of Spiderman judging by the last panels.

    Welcome back to the review section.

  2. #2 Peter says:

    An enjoyable issue, but I don’t agree with it being part of ASM .1 initiative. Weirder still, its not even by the creative team on the Venom book.

    Bah, whatever. It’s Remender and Moore, its gonna be awesome. Looking forward to this week’s issue of ASM.

  3. #3 butters911 says:

    im glad Im not the only one who enjoyed the .1 issue. Yeah it was kinda dumb, but it kept me entertained

  4. #4 Nathaniel Collins says:

    I agree with butters911 and Bailey on this issue. It may not have been the best issue (Spidey didn’t really appear) but non-the-less it was a good issue.

  5. #5 CRM says:

    Yeah I pretty much agree with the review 100%

  6. #6 Enigma_2099 says:

    Welcome back, Mike.

    And why bother with keeping schedules with reviews anyway. You guys are doing this as a favor to Brad, and I seriously doubt he really cares THAT much. It’s a big enough privilege to him that you guys care enough to do him this service, I’m sure. I say throw out an apology if it’s late and just do them when you can. And if anyone wants to complain about you keeping a timely schedule, ask to be paid in unmarked bills.

  7. #7 Brian Bradley says:

    the more I can read about Spidey, the better. Good review. Seems like the one the biggest gripes is its use of the Amazing Spider-Man title, I didn’t care either way since I wasn’t going to buy it anyways. It’ll be cool to see which pictures from the books you guys choose to highlight in your reviews.

  8. #8 Spazoid21 says:

    How much did Slott pay you to like this issue?

  9. #9 Michael Bailey says:

    $150 in Monopoly money.

  10. #10 hermann22 says:

    Good to have your awesome insight my friend.

  11. #11 Spazoid21 says:

    @Michael

    Aww that’s twice as much as he paid me. Now I feel like he ruined my childhood.

  12. #12 alexleg says:

    welcome back sir!!! nice review

  13. #13 Nick MB says:

    From what has been said in interviews, the events of the new Venom series will be feeding back into ASM. So I guess if Flash’s new status as Venom is going to play a big role in ASM going forwards, it probably justifies spending a single issue setting it up before packing him off to his own book.

    On the other hand, it does seem odd putting it into the .1 issue as a jumping on point. But hey, I’ll take this over yet another recap of Spider-Man’s origin.

  14. #14 Brian Bradley says:

    That sucks about the water stain by the way. Can’t you take that back to the comic shop and do something about it? Unless you ordered it by mail I guess.

  15. #15 Andy H says:

    Great to have you back, Michael.

  16. #16 CrazyChris says:

    The two reviewers on ASM idea is interesting. Let’s see how it works.

  17. #17 blah says:

    was totally against it at the start but the book has won me over, i’ll get the venom series.

    i like it that venom is making babies all over the place, and because Flash has no legs – you can really feel the dependance bond that he has with the symbiote.

    This is how Stan’s “Soldier Zero” should be written.