AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #654.1 REVIEW


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.