The Amazing Spider-Man Free Comic Book Day 2011 Double Review

In 2007, Dan Slott wrote a “Free Comic Book Day” issue featuring Spider-Man. Four years later and he’s doing it again. This time he’s brought Ramos. I’ll be reviewing this comic, and like Slott I’ve also brought someone along with me.

By: Dan Slott (writer), Humberto Ramos (pencils), Carlos Cuevas & Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters), Ellie Pyle (assistant editor) & Stephen Wacker (editor)

Bertone: I  suppose we’ll start with some sort of “introduction”. I’m not sure how to lead it in aside from the obvious. Oh heck I’ll use this! Sup Don?

Donovan Morgan Grant: Funny. What’s good Josh?

Bertone: Hopefully it’ll be this comic! I hope Jon Wilson isn’t hurt that we’re reviewing an issue of “Amazing Spider-Man” without him. Let’s go on with it shall we?

The Basics

Spider-Man fights a mind controlled Spider-Woman courtesy of the Mandrill, as Madame Web 2.0 and Shang-Chi look on. Thanks to some perfume, Spidey is able to overcome this dilemma but notes that he does need an upgrade in his fighting ability. Shang-Chi trains Spider-Man in different fighting styles. Madame Web 2.0 talks about the upcoming infestation.

What Everyone is Talking About

Bertone: From what I’ve seen, Spider-Man fighting style and Shang-Chi seens to be what most people discussed about this issue. What are your thoughts?
Donovan Morgan Grant: Well, some people definitely take to Spider-Man learning new things. I fall in line with that group. However, it’s not as though he hasn’t been trained to fight before.

Bertone: Yes, that is what bugged me. They treat it as if he has never had any martial arts training before. This happens every so often. A recent example was Captain America training him during Peter David’s run on “Friendly Neighborhood”. Similar comments were made.
Donovan Morgan Grant: What’s the earliest example of him being trained in the martial arts? How often has this been brought up by writers before?
Bertone: I’m going to freely admit I can’t recall them off the type of my head (Peter David example aside). I’ve pondered this one and wondered if perhaps I should give Slott a pass on it. Although he has had training before, it hasn’t seemed to be on the level he got here. For example, I doubt the Cap sessions were more than a few hours here or there. Still, it bugs me that they treat it he has no martial arts experience after all these years. I know he losts his spider sense, but he’s had plenty of battles (Venom) where he’s been without it.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Yeah, I’m with you. It’s cool that he has Spidey learn some new tricks, but to suggest that he has nothing to work with beforehand is a bit annoying. It undermines our hero for the sake of building him up.

The Creators

Bertone: Dan Slott could write an entertaining story when he’s not trying to reference Marla Madison building spider slayers every other issue.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Yeah, for real.
Bertone: Spider-Man’s voice comes off a bit more immature than previously portrayed. This has been an issue with Slott’s writing for awhile. I notice this is mostly done when Spider-Man is paired with other heroes as oppose to in a solo setting.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Right. It’s one thing to have Spidey be a fun-loving jokster. It’s another thing to have him come off as immature to the readers. We the audience should always be invested in him, not laughing at him for being a dope. It loses the relatability factor that has been with the character through the many years.
Bertone: The script did a good job of introducing certain elements of Spider-Man’s world to new readers without sounding like poor exposition to seasoned readers. I’ll give Slott points for that.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Me too. Slott has both good and not so good points when writing for a general audience. Personally he can come off as trying to please everybody, but it’s not always a bad thing
Bertone: Ramos art style took me years to get used to. It’s improved since his work on “Peter Parker: Spider-Man”, but still isn’t my first choice of art style when it comes to “Amazing Spider-Man”. It’s different and perhaps it’s good to showcase something out of the norm for your “Free Comic Book Day” audience. Ultimately, he has grown on me slightly and I didn’t mind his art here as much as I have in the past.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Personally, I’m a fan of Ramos’ art. I agree it’s not for everybody, and maybe it’s not automatically fitted for ASM. But he’s been doing solid work on the title, and I think that continues here.

The Good
Bertone: I enjoyed that Spider-Man is actually is recieving some perks for being an Avenger. Being able to send the bill to Tony Stark is convienent and nice change from everyone yells at Spidey.
Donovan Morgan Grant: I liked how Spidey was learning new things, even if it’s not STRICTLY new. Being taught by Shang Chi was a neat concept.
Bertone: I loved the use of Mandrill here. I am not too familiar with him or his powers, but I enjoyed how it was utilized here. Particularly with the mind controlled FEMALES.
Donovan Morgan Grant: FEMALES!!! Oh yes.  As stated before, I really liked the Ramos art.


The Bad

Bertone: I was dissapointed by the lack of Peter Parker’s world. No Horizon Labs, Carlie Cooper or Aunt May. This was strictly Spider-Man’s world here and for a book that was going to potential new readers, I felt we should have seen some of Peter’s life outside of the costume, especially since that has always been one of the huge draws of the book.
Donovan Morgan Grant: That’s a good point. If we go back to the last ASM FCBD issue, that showcased Peter and Aunt May. It’s as though this issue was to bring in new readers for the upcoming STORIES, not solely the character.
Bertone: I understand from Slott that this story takes place a few months ahead of the current books. Perhaps including some of those character would have spoiled some plot points. I still think something could have been done. The moment Shang-Chi said they trained the man, now we will train “the Spider” I gagged. We’ve been down this road so many times. They did it with Puma in the 90’s, then again right before the Clone Saga and again with JMS. It’s played out and was never interesting.
Donovan Morgan Grant: I agree with you there. It’s not believable dialogue, and it makes the book seem overtly childish.

Bertone: Madame Web 2.0 wasn’t something I really dug either. The whole “the web is breaking” stuff wasn’t my cup of tea last year and I’m not liking it here either. Her acting as “the Watcher” telling Shang-Chi what to do but saying not to interfere was stupid.
Donovan Morgan Grant: That too. I didn’t care for how Julia Carpenter’s voice was all mystic and spooky. It felt heavy handed. By that token, I was surprised how Shang-Chi sounded. Going by Julia’s voice, you’d expect him to sound more stilted and possibly seterotypical like an old 70s martial artist movie star.


The Two Page Teaser
Bertone: Yes, this is a reprint, but it’s worth talking about. Besides, I think we should give our two cents! I don’t mind it being reprinted here since this book is suppose to reach a wider audience. To all the people who think Mr. Negative is going to kill Eddie Brock, please calm down. Remember this is Marvel we’re talking about. Eddie will be just fine, knife through the chest aside.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Yeah, he ain’t going anywhere. They’ve tried to kill Eddie a couple of times now. He’ll be back. They always come back.
Bertone: I did like seeing Flash/Venom fighting alongside the Black Cat. As a fan of the 90’s stories, I hope the fact that these two characters almost got married isn’t ignored. It will be interesting to see how they react to eachother.
Donovan Morgan Grant: I wouldn’t be surprised  if it does get ingored, to be honest. What about the big ones Bertone? Like MJ with spider powers?
Bertone: When that was released months ago there wasn’t too many details about “Spider Island”. It now looks like it”ll be a tie in to that. When I first saw it, I thought Peter invented wall crawling boots or something. Notice MJ sticks to the wall her boots still in.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Right. If she truly had powers, she’d be barefoot. As is the case with Peter most of the time.
Bertone: Unless it was an artist goof.
Donovan Morgan Grant: True. What about Norah Winters necking with the Hobgoblin?
Bertone: Norah kissing the Hobgoblin is something I suspect to be a fakeout. Like perhaps she’s distracting him to learn more about his plan? Something along the lines of Vicki Vale pretending to come onto the Joker in the 1989 Batman film.
Donovan Morgan Grant: What if it isn’t? You think Norah could possibly turn…EVIL?!
Bertone: DUN DUN DUN! Or it’s an even bigger fakeout and she’s kissing Randy after he won a Hobgoblin costume contest. Would make sense with the script.
Donovan Morgan Grant: Agh. That would stink.

Bertone: I didn’t like how Spider-Man narrated it. It felt really weird.

Donovan Morgan Grant: Yeah, it felt like something you’d hear from a cartoon promo. Too heavy handed.
Bertone: Especially when Peter was getting surprised by his own words. “Outer space??!?!”. Aside from the cheesiness of that, he’s been to outer space a million times. Which image has you the most intrigued?
Donovan Morgan Grant: The MJ panel, although I wonder who Peter’s addressing in his lab.
Bertone:  My guess is Miles Warren. Maybe he’ll have his head covered by a flower ala Mary Jane in issue 25.”Another scientist?” “More competition”
Donovan Morgan Grant: Hahaha!  What do you readers think?

The Final Word

Bertone: This book was worth every penny. Enjoyable and fun. Free Comic Book Day, so how picky could you really be? Get it now before Marvel rereleases a “directors cut” for 3.99.
Donovan Morgan Grant: I agree, worth the price! Seriously, it was a fun distraction. For new readers, I’m not sure if it’s totally new-reader friendly. But free comics are always cool.
Bertone: I had two kids with me during the comic store visit. They seemed to enjoy the issue, and there wasn’t anything too adult that I was worried about them stumbling upon. 3 out of 5 Goblin tattoos
Donovan Morgan Grant: Concur’D. 3/5  mind controlled FEMALES!!!
Bertone: Thanks for joining for this review. You should review Amazing more often.

Donovan Morgan Grant: “You never know”

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