Hello All. I thought it has been awhile since I submitted an editorial, and I thought it would be a good time to do so, since not too long ago, we passed the 6 month mark in the ‘Big Time’ era. Dan Slott launched the new shift in direction in November of 2010 to much fan fare, as was announced at San Diego Comic Con last year. The biggest change, of course, was the fact that Dan Slott would be the person headlining the title after having up to nine writers during the Brand New Day era. This article will give grades out to the first six months of the title in the hands of Brand New Day. I think some will be surprised. Click for more after the jump.
‘Brand New’ Big Time: The First Six Months.
By Zach ‘Spideydude’ Joiner
We’ll first start with the subplots:
When you think of the Big Time, one of the first things that come to mind is Horizon Labs. I think of people who complained that as a component, it is too similar to the ill-fated Spider-Reboot sub-plot known as Tri-Corp. I agreed at the time, but I will say this: It’s so much better because unlike that subplot, there is movement in that storyline. We’ve seen a lot of the team and we still don’t know who is in room 6. It’s a welcome change from the ‘creepy-stalker-loser’ mentality that permeated the Brand New Day story. For far too long, Peter Parker was a loser who couldn’t win. Now, he’s successful. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, but at least it’s being used effectively, which leads me to my next bit.
GRADE: B. While we’ve seen them on and off, the last 5 issues featured them little.
The Visuals of the new Costumes are fun, and despite calls for the black and green costume being too close to Tron, it was effective and worked for the story which it was featured. The problem I have is that we’ll probably never see this costume again; much like the Spider-Armor, which again, wasn’t a gimmick, as it was used for story purposes only. The only costume that will be seen again and again is going to be the Spider-Fantastic Costume, which is the only reason that this grade goes from D to a C.
In Fantastic Four 587, Johnny Storm died. In Future Foundation #1 and ASM 657, Peter joins the team, per Johnny’s last will and testament. While it’s an organic and welcome addition to the team, I felt that the story in ASM was merely okay, outside the 657. This is a part of ASM trying to be a part of the larger Marvel Universe, which as it stands is cool, but I feel that this is too early to really give a concrete grade. As such, I’ll give it as straight C.
This was featured in the first arc (Avengers appeared in 648) and the second arc (New Avengers 652-654) this was largely ignored throughout the JMS run when he joined the team, but it became the supporting cast as time went on. Now, he is on two of the teams, and as such there is a feeling that it’s not Amazing Spider-Man anymore, but Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Not a huge problem, but it seems that it will be this way until at least November. That’s a problem, because outside one arc, Peter has needed help from at least one of the three teams he’s on. It makes him seem helpless.
The Revamped Villains:
The Roderick Kingsley Hobgoblin we’re to believe to be killed by Phil Urich, who has become much more unstable after previously being the ‘good goblin’. The biggest difference between his Hobgoblin and previous Hobgoblins is that he has the sonic scream that he had in his Green Goblin series, despite it saying in that book that he got that power from his mask.
It certainly started his run in the mask with a bang, and it was effective. We’ve not seen much of the Hobgoblin in the months since, outside of here and there an appearance by Phil Urich himself at the Daily Bugle.
Alistair Smythe is back, and he brought a few friends. Smythe is one of those guys who come back around for two things: Jonah and Spidey. He blames the both of them for killing his father, who was driven mad by his quest to build better Spider-Slayers for Jonah. Alistair teams up with someone who has similar motivations, the Scorpion. He revamped him in the suit, and kept Spidey busy while Smythe tried to kill Jonah. It worked, mostly till the end, when Marla Jameson died when Peter took away his own Spider-Sense, in a heroic attempt to save the day.
When Peter loses his Spider-Sense, he gets shot when a madman starts killing everyone in his way. He was a man who due to a freak accident had a piece of metal stuck in his brain, cutting off the ability to feel emotion. It led to the man wanting to kill, and despite an order by Jamerson to shoot to kill, Spider-Man saves him.
GRADE: B- There’s not enough time to really judge him, in my opinion.
GRADE SO FAR: C+. Three C’s and Two B’s.
So we’ve gone through the nitty-gritty of the run, but what about an overall opinion of the strengths and weakness?
The Run is riddled with things that carried over from the previous run and Carlie Cooper being the prime and shining example. I will admit my bias as a MJ fan. I am not a fan of Carlie. I think she’s a Mary Sue trope that is very thin in terms of character. It was far worse coming in, and we’ve learned more about her, such as she is a roller derby girl. That’s cool and different and unique. We’ve got a long way to go before we learn more about her, but she’s been better written overall since Slott took over full time, dislike aside. Carlie Cooper gets a solid B+ from me, despite that awful scene where she almost got that Goblin tattoo. The overall characterization of the cast is so much better, from Jonah doing something stupid as Mayor, driven by emotion, he want the death penalty for super-villains. (He wants this despite the real world New York State outlawing it.) Robbie is very much the man he always is, Norah Winters is pretty consistent, and they toned back the racist overtones that brought down her character, which is a good thing.
With one man being the person headlining the run, there is not as much inconsistent moments. That hurt the Brand New Day story for 100 issues, because there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Despite that, we’ve seen Van Lente come in and script a couple of issues over Slott’s plot. Despite people whining, this isn’t anything new. I’m fairly certain that DeFalco would script over Stern plots at times and vice versa. I do know that DeFalco would plot issues of Spectacular Spider-Man and Todd DeZago would script in the mid 1990s during the Clone Saga. Overall, only one story I didn’t like. This gets a huge A from me with one person.
I’ll say it now: when it comes to the artwork of the 6 months, it’s been fanfreakingtastic. Humberto Ramos isn’t normally my cup of tea, but he’s brought his A game to this title and it’s a welcome sight. Stefano Caselli is a new addition to the artist ranks, and he’s far and away my favorite of the three main artists. His work on ‘Fantastic Voyage’ and ‘Return of the Spider-Slayers’ was great work, and his work on the details, in particular the faces that he drew have a huge range of emotions and it’s very good line work overall. Paulo Rivera is the artist that is known for being the closest to Ditko since the early days of Ron Frenz. He’s known for his odd angles and the most experimental of the three artists. None of them are bad artists and they all fit the title well. This gets an A+. Even the fill in artists have been good, from the back up artists, to the main story.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This has been a much more consistent run of Spider-Man than what we saw in the previous 100 issues before. The artwork is good, borderline great, the characterization is much more consistent and there is a larger, bigger story building. There is forward progress and the character is growing, even by a little bit, which is much more than I could say for the last era of Spider-Man. Also a shoutout to the Editorial staff, mainly Steve Wacker, for keeping the trains running a bit on time, I believe that there was only one time where we saw a minor delay, and with 2-times a month, every month the chances of that happening are very few. He’s worked hard to maintain the schedule, and does a very good job doing so.
FINAL GRADE: B. There’s room for improvement, particularly with the characterization of Peter, but we’re on the right track.
In the next six months, we’ll have the big event of the year: Spider-Island. Before that, we’ll have Infested occur. Watch this space in November, when we do a one year look back.
Zach ‘Spideydude ‘Joiner