The Amazing Spider-Man #664 Review

Spider-Man, Anti-Venom and the Wraith take on Mr. Negative in a battle which changes things FOREVER! Read this review, and be changed FOREVER!


The Return of Anti-Venom-Part T
wo: Revelation Day”

Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by Klaus Janson
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by VC’s Joe Carmagna

“Infested: Stage 5”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Max Fiumara
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

THE PLOT(S): Anti-Venom is dead set on proving to Spider-Man that he’s one of the good guys by bringing in Mr. Negative. The Wraith joins their battle, and circumstances lead to Negative’s secret identity as Martin Li being revealed to the world. Elsewhere, Spider-Man and Shang Chi further Spidey’s martial arts training.
LONG STORY SHORT: Carlie Cooper reveals to Captain Watanabe that she’s figured out who the Wraith is. Turns out it’s her, and while Carlie won’t out her she does suggest to Watanabe to leave town for fear of others learning of her secret night life. Spidey eavesdrops and overhears it all. Back at Peter Parker’s Pad, Carlie guilts Peter into revealing his secret connection with Spider-Man. Peter confesses that he provides Spider-Man with his webshooters and technology, which Carlie goes for hook, line and sinker.
MY THOUGHTS: Last issue I made the incorrect assumption in stating that Carlie had moved in with Peter. I made a big point about how that was way too fast, and thanks to Editor Steve Wacker setting me straight I now know that wasn’t the case at all. While I still think Peter and Carlie’s romance in forced and artificial, I was flat out wrong in that particular instance and for spreading misinformation in that review, I apologize. Now onto the review…
This issue…
*sigh*…what can I say about this issue? It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it was really good either. It was just there. It didn’t seem as though much happened that I was meant to care about. Don’t get me wrong, things were happening, but from the characters actions and the way the story ended it sure didn’t seem like it. Not sure where I’m going with this? Come on, let’s dive into it.
Last issue ended with Spidey losing consciousness with Anti-Venom was coming up on him threatening violence. Things looked bad for Spidey. We start off this issue NOT where we left off, but hours later after Eddie Brock apparently had a change of heart off panel. Now all of a sudden he wants to prove to Spider-Man that he’s a good person (as though Spider-Man’s opinion should mean anything to Brock at this point.) and webs him up so he can go and stop Negative on his own. You know how we internet reviewers like to adjust our glasses and loudly type into the keyboard “Show, don’t Tell” when criticizing comic books?
Seriously, show and don’t tell.
It’s not as though Peter was in a no-win/certain death scenario, but the ending to the last issue was a flat-out cheat. Granted, that’s not new to comic book writing but rather than relying on a very bad writing trope, that should leave some room to improvise where endings such as those occur in the story. It also changes Eddie Brock’s motivations somewhat which bugs me. Brock has been throughout his entire history stopping the people who he feels has committed wrong doings. That’s altered now to impressing Spider-Man and making him seem like a fanboy wacko nutcase. Weren’t we suppose to be rooting for this character? That’s what the Anti-Venom miniseries was for, correct?
Okay, I will give you that Venom is always played as a lunatic when compared to Spider-Man. This however just seems as though it’s needless hijinks. We had to wait for Peter to break out of his bonds, only to see him get webbed up immediately after (which I admit was funny) and get freed from someone else. That to me isn’t tension with our hero’s situation, that’s frustration at wanting our hero to find out the truth. Reading audiences have changed. Maybe kids will read this and say “Oh no Spidey! You have to free yourself so you can fight White-Venom and then Mister Negative!” but the conventional audience will just be consternated at the repetitious padding of this Mr. Negative story.
That does lead into the best thing about this issue, however. The Mr. Negative storyline is presumably finished now that his ID is out in the open, and I applaud Slott for not dragging this one out. I fully expected this to be a three-parter at least, but I’m glad to see that this wasn’t the case. Same with the Wraith, who’s predictably busted to be Yuri Watanabe. Unfortunately, it seems that both characters will be exiting from the books. While that’s perfectly understandable for Negative, I wish Watanabe didn’t leave. The best thing this new era of ASM has done is introduce new characters into Peter’s life, and I find it very annoying when they leave. In this case, the reasoning made sense but it wasn’t good enough for me. Yuri did all this of her own esteem, why would she just listen to Carlie and seemingly oblige to skip town. She did all this of her own volition, do we not get a say from her or a though caption? A police captain who doubles as a vigilante sounds more interesting than Peter Parker’s vanilla girlfriend. That’s not me conforming to the Carlie hate necessarily, just saying that objectively, Watanabe is more interesting. Plus, along with Vin, Lily, her father Bill and Michelle, it’s another minority character who exits stage left. Not trying to accuse Marvel of anything, but it is something I wish hadn’t happen.
So I liked the overall “third act” of this story as well as the revelation that Yuri was the Wraith (even though it was pretty ghoulish for her to masquerade as her slaughtered friend.) even though it was a pretty easy mystery to solve. So what’s up with my opening thoughts in the review?
Really, it’s the execution. This should have been an exciting issue, or more exciting than it was. Anti-Venom really did turn out to be the hero in this case, along with Wraith and Spider-Man, but we don’t feel the rush of excitement and finality that that second-to-last page should have delivered. I would’ve accepted Eddie bouncing around New York the same way Peter did in the last issue because in that scene, you feel Peter’s sense of accomplishment. The panel with Eddie might as well have been summed up with this thought caption.

Plus the consequences to Martin Li being outed were virtually non-existent. Only Aunt May reacted with any shock, the rest of the characters got all annoyed with Spider-Man, and if you read that page to the left,for seemingly no reason. No one’s like “*GASP!* Martin Li, the philanthropist?! Wow! How horrible! How crazy!” Everyone’s like, “Ok.” Was this not supposed to be a watershed moment? The mystery that’s been “building” since the very beginning of Brand New Day goes out like a silent deflating balloon.

It’s just like the Carlie/Watanabe scene.

“I know you’re Wraith.”
“Dang. Whatchu gonna do about it?”
“Better leave town though.”
“You’re right I should.”

See where I’m getting at? The convenience for the plot supersedes any notion of drama, excitement or even interest that would go beyond just the simple events. Put it to you this way, you can draw somebody punching someone. OR you can draw somebody slamming their fist into their gut with all of the weight of their upper body arching over and really feeling the pain through the image. It’s like this. Slott doesn’t go for dramatics, he stops at the very basic and informational. It’s okay because that existence of the scenes do draw interest. Case in point: Carlie confronts Watanabe. But think of how else this scene could have been done.

-Carlie could have kept the information to herself. This might have dragged as a subplot though.
-Carlie could have ratted Watanabe out to the Chief of Police, and Yuri would have more reason to leave town.
-Carlie could have offered to join Yuri’s crusade against the forces of evil somehow.
-Carlie could have told only Peter, and Peter as Spider-Man would confront Yuri.
-Yuri could have shot Carlie with a concealed silenced pistol, to keep her identity a secret. I wouldn’t have liked that though.

These are just ideas to spitball around, but the road not taken…

I didn’t like the ending because again it was forced and needless. How many times has Peter “confessed” to someone his “secret” relationship with Spider-Man? I seriously thought it was public knowledge that he just has a photo deal with the guy. Are we honestly still playing this game of people not knowing he’s Spider-Man but thinking they have some sort of relationship? It coincides with Max Modell’s assumption, but my main beef is that Carlie wasn’t suspicious of Peter in the first place. I could be wrong and probably am, but why is she bringing up Spider-Man to him? When was the last time she even thought of the two of them together?Whenever it wasn’t it wasn’t soon enough for this to be redundant, neither remembered.

Speaking of redundant, we get more of Shang Chi training Spider-Man in the martial arts. It’s a fun idea because I like seeing guys train and go through montages and stuff, but again this is old hat. Like Josh and I said in the FCBD review, Spidey’s has been trained to fight before. Not only that, but it’s been established that he already has a unique fighting style. It’s not just his Spider-Sense Dan dude, his agility, speed and reflexes give him his superhuman edge. As a backup it was alright, but it’s unreal having a fan of Spider-Man try to play off things that have happened before as though they haven’t.

Overall like I said above, the execution largely annoyed me in this issue. Not bad, but it could, no, should have been better. Show some guts, make some surprises, go for the throat, do something that’s daring and awesome. This story showed it’s hand fairly early on, and that’s no fun.

And I didn’t care for the art, but it wasn’t horrible. Just not my thing. Klaus Janson works with a specific set of artists, and I didn’t think he fit here.

2.5/5 Webs
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