Spider-Man #17 (2016) Review


“Gettin’ a little dark there, Spider-Boy. Sure you’re playin’ for the right team?”

When Hammerhead hurts someone close to Miles, will the darkness within finally come erupting out?

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis

ARTIST: Oscar Bazaldua

COLOR ARTIST: Justin Ponsor

LETTERING: VC’s Cory Petit

COVER ART: Patrick Brown

SPECIAL THANKS: Juan Vlasco

TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock

ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis

EDITOR: Nick Lowe

STORY: Bombshell tries to stop Hammerhead during a shakedown, but gets hospitalized. At school, Miles gets a text from the nurse and rushes to check on Lana. The doctor mentions a guy with a hammer for a head and Miles rushes off to confront the culprit. Spider-Man and Hammerhead throw down, with Miles being beaten into unconsciousness. Rio waits for Miles in his dorm room.

THOUGHTS: Not feeling the cover this month. It’s simplistic, doesn’t allude to what the issue is about and doesn’t stand out in a way that makes me want to buy it. The art is fine and would make a great promo for something or special pin-up in the back of an annual, but it feels pretty uninspired as a cover.

In contrast, I liked the opening device of having Bombshell address viewers through a live stream recorded through her smart phone. It gave Bazaldua the opportunity to do some unique panel layouts and Bendis a way to set the stage in a contemporary setting. It’s a creative way for us to learn about Lana’s worldview and for Bazaldua to show off a range of expressions with his art.

Not only does Bendis let us in on Lana’s thoughts, but when she goes to stop a crime in progress we get insight into Hammerhead as well. Citing his code of not hitting girls or kids, he tries to verbally get Bombshell to walk away, which of course, she doesn’t. Bazaldua imbues her with a perfect face of heroic determination. After being attacked, Hammerhead then feels obliged to reciprocate, head-ramming her twice, leaving her unconscious. It took me off guard that he made it a point to emphasize to the crowd that he could’ve killed her, but didn’t-that he really wanted them to make sure others knew. Trying to beat the rap for when he eventually gets arrested? I had to smirk when Hammerhead used the word “baller”. Somehow, I can’t see that being a part of his normal lingo.

Once again, Bendis brings up the darkness that’s inside Miles, first in a conversation with Fabio, then in his confrontation with Hammerhead. I like Fabio pointing out to Miles that everyone has a dark side, that it’s the duality of man. That’s always been a subject that’s fascinated me. For once though, it’s not Bendis just telling us about it. When Miles is at the hospital, spots Lana and finds out who did it, Bazaldua lets us see it in his art. Then we really get a taste of it as Miles just unleashes all his rage in the night club fight.

The Spidey/Hammerhead battle is the highlight of the book for me. Doing his best Rico Renzi Spider-Gwen impression, Ponsor fills the scene with strobing blues, purples, and greens. Bazaldua gets in on the act with plenty of speed lines and dynamic, energetic panels. The onomatopoeia sells each hit, especially as the blood starts to fly.  The flying fists build to a crescendo with one panel of Lana laying unconscious in the hospital hooked up to oxygen. You know EXACTLY what Miles is thinking in that moment. You can picture him breathing heavy as he stops to look at what he’s done. Big mistake as Hammerhead takes the opening and punishingly headbutts Miles into a column. Looks like it may be curtains for our hero as the panel fades to black.

Closing on an initially much chipper looking Rio, she lets herself in to Miles’ dorm after running into Judge. However, as she sits in the messy room by herself, her inner Aunt May breaks through as she starts to look worried. I feel bad for her, especially knowing that things aren’t looking so good for Miles. Bazaldua goes with an overhead perspective, looking down, making her feel more alone.

One one hand, it doesn’t seem like a lot went on, but on the other, Bendis went from always telling about Miles’ inner conflict and rage to finally showing. Bazaldua continues to have some fine craftsmanship and is a worthy successor to the occupied Sara Pichelli. The fight between Miles and Hammerhead was brutal and you know they’re both going to be hurting the next day.

MY GRADE: B+

JAVI’S HUH?: Where did next issue’s Black Cat cover go?

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