- Writer: Dan Slott
- Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli
- Inker: Klaus Janson
- Story Title: The Return of Anti-Venom Part One: The Ghost of Jean DeWolff
Peter is once more the main hero in his own book. Anti-Venom is back too. So is…well…that would be telling. Read on to find out which character makes a dramatic return in this issue.
Anti-Venom continues his crusade against Mister Negative but is shocked to discover that Jean DeWolff is not only alive but is also the Wraith. Meanwhile Peter is all kinds of happy at getting published in a scientific journal and things are still going well for him at Horizon Labs. Later in the day Aunt May has some kind of seizure after shaking hands with Mister Li (a.k.a. Mister Negative) and after she is rushed to the hospital Anti-Venom goes after Li. Spider-Man doesn’t know that that Li is Mister Negative and the two have the obligatory fight before Anti-Venom pins Spider-Man and threatens to take his powers away…for good.
There was a lot to like about this issue. This is the third issue in a row that I have read through and liked, for the most part. Dan seemed re-energized after his two issue break and he came back swinging (no pun intended) even if he brought in a plot point or two that I may end having a problem with.
The best part of this issue is that Peter’s life continues to be on the upswing (pun intended). That may seem silly or simplistic or maybe even a few other words that start with the letter S but after the “let’s give Peter the worst time ever” phase that comprised the bulk of Brand New Day it is nice to see things working out for him. Slott even managed to work a minor miracle by having me actually like Aunt May for the first time since JMS wrote the character. Her having fun with Peter and pretending not to know what he was talking about came off as playful and done out of love and affection. This is a far cry of the, “my nephew sure does suck, I wish he would do something with his life” characterization that was stapled on to the character back in…well…Brand New Day.
You know, it strikes me that the main reason I liked this issue is that it was different from a lot of the stories told during BND. I am not sure that is quite fair so for the moment I am going to stop mentioning it and see if there are other reasons to dig on this issue.
This was also a packed issue and I felt like I got my money’s worth. I was also digging on the art and can’t believe that Klaus Janson inked this story. Usually his inks are a lot sketchier than this but together with Camuncoli the art was energetic, fresh and even had a little hint of manga in it but not enough to turn me off. There was also a nice blend of action and character work too. I was just as engaged artistically with the people at Horizon Labs as I was with Spider-Man and Anti-Venom fighting their way across New York City.
I actually found myself liking Anti-Venom in this issue, which surprised the #$%& out of me because I always thought I would hate the concept. For some reason it works here mainly because it has something to do with the supposed return of Jean DeWolff and really without Jean DeWolff dying there is no Venom. You can draw a direct line from those four issues of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man to Amazing Spider-Man #300. It shows a good use of the history of the characters involved to tell an engaging (hopefully) story.
That does bring up a question though; how do I feel about the supposed return of Jean DeWolff? In the end that is going to depend on two things with the first being whether or not this is, in fact, Jean DeWolff and not some big scam on the part of an as yet unknown super-villain. If this turns out to be the case I will be disappointed because that is a pretty big cheat. The second factor is how good the story turns out to be. If Slott brings Jean back from the dead, even temporarily, and it makes for a well written, emotionally driven story then I won’t be up in arms about the whole thing. That reaction surprised me when I realized it was how I felt because I love the original Death of Jean DeWolff storyline. It had one of the best punch you in the gut openings I have ever read and made me care about the death of character I met in the very same issue. That is not an easy trick to pull off but Peter David managed to do that. I am hoping Slott does something similar with her return.
The two back-up stories were nice as well. I don’t care for Cloak and Dagger at all but they have a history with Spider-Man so Infested: Stage 4 went down a little easier. I really liked Thanks…But No Thanks. It may have been a tad on the sappy side but the writing was decent and I love Todd Nauck’s artwork.
This was another satisfying issue. I am once again excited to be picking up this book every two weeks and that makes writing these reviews more enjoyable. Sure writing bad reviews is easier but they are not as satisfying. We were left with a decent cliffhanger ending and the question of Jean DeWolff’s return has me intrigued. It was also nice to have decent back-up stories for the second issue in row. All in all this issue was well worth the four bucks minus ten percent that I plunked down for it.
4 out of 5 webheads.