“Great Heights part one: Trust Issues”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by Klaus Janson
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
THE PLOT: Troubled youths everywhere flood New York with the hopes of obtaining Spider-Powers. In the absence of that, they flock to a gang with the Vulture’s wings and take to the skies. Meanwhile, the Kingpin’s Horizon Labs mole Tiberus Stone provides Fisk with the information on the Spider-Sense jammers.
LONG STORY SHORT: Peter and Carlie agree to work together to figure out the secret behind the sudden increase in supposed teen suicides, leftovers of the Vulture gang. The newest member of the gang Michael is introduced to the gang’s leader, none other than Adrian Toomes.
MY THOUGHTS: Eh, it’s alright.
The first arc after Spider-Island seems more back to basics, with a return of a classic villain and threads picking up from the previous story, told well thanks to Slott’s pacing. That’s one thing I will always credit the guy, he knows how to pace an issue, and leaves you with the sense that nothing was robbed or padded for the sake of the trade. I would go as far to say that Dan Slott’s one of the better writers in the industry today based purely in terms of his pacing. Scene transitions aren’t awkward, we get as much information as we need for the story, and the scenes are filled with dialogue so as to beef up the page content. I may not care the for guy’s dialogue or some of his execution in certain issues, but in that regard it always comes out of personal taste and not because he’s not giving it his all in terms of finishing the job. Many comics feel like they consist of two or three scenes stretched out to a twenty-odd page issue, so Slott’s appropriately old school when it comes to bucking that current trend.
That doesn’t make it the best ASM issue ever though, it just makes it a competent one. Less competent is the stock characterization, I.E. the serious cliche’d angsty police chief, who takes Carlie off the case for doing her job well and automatically assumes Spider-Man’s guilty of murder simply because he was found with the body. In a world where superheroes are regularly exonerated from crimes a dozen times over, this is just annoying. Even if the guy is a petulant idiot, he’s still a waste of space in that his character brings nothing new or interesting to the issue. He’s just another cliche. When I’m reading this, I’m not thinking “How’s Carlie going to do her job now?” or “Will Spidey be cleared of all charges?” because this has been done to death over and over and over and over and over again. It’s old, I’m sick of it, and at this point it’s become a cartoon of a story conflict, as nuanced and fresh as the Coyote chasing the Road Runner.
I know Slott’s fond of comic book cliches, but I implore him to try something new if he’s really working on his dream job. The whole Vulture gang angle isn’t wholly unique either, but it makes more sense given the context that this issue takes place a week after Spider-Island. I really like the idea that people in the country now think if they go to New York they can get powers automatically, as it shows a very real slice of sensationalistic daydreaming the internet is famous for, and how it reflects the thought process of our current generation.
The scene with Peter and Carlie caught me off guard, because as I said in the last review I honestly thought we would not see the two of them together for a long while. While they thankfully haven’t gotten back together, I was still expecting Carlie to show more anger than she did towards Peter given that she left in tears seven days prior, both in comic book time and in real time. They better not be getting back together, because again with the last issue Peter still doesn’t really care about her. She’s convenient for being his girlfriend and for providing him info he needs as Spidey. That is the reality of her existence in his mind. I wasn’t really expecting Carlie to dissappear from the books myself, but I think the book could use a break from her. Again, she’s not a bad character but she isn’t the best either. An arc without her in the book would’ve been welcome just for distance’s sake.
The art by Giuseppe Camuncoli is better than his last run in the Anti-Venom/Mr. Negative story. Camuncoli’s depiction of Spidey during the pointless fight scene was very cool and classic. I loved how he had Spidey pose and react in his acrobatic way. It felt like Romita Jr. meets Eric Larsen. I’m still not a huge fan of his art, although I mainly put that up to the inks by Klaus Janson, who’s own art resembles Frank Miller much of the time. Miller’s style doesn’t really fit with a Spider-Man comic, at least not his current style, so a lot of the time characters look overtly “grim’n gritty”. The tool police chief looks like he’s absolutely insane most of the time. I suppose that’s going to be the art’s way from here on out.
That’s pretty much it as far as thoughts go for this one. The Vulture’s return was kind of cool as the leader of a gang done up in his style. It felt very Return of the Joker-esque, and I can see Toomes trying this stunt. Aside from that, not much else occurs. Not a bad story by any means, but nothing to write home about.