Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chronic Review: Amazing Spider-Man # 592

Script: Mark Waid
Pencils: Mike McKone
Cover: Joe Quesada

I'm going to tell you something, and you won't believe it. So just take a deep breath and please try to hear me when I tell you that Amazing Spider-Man has an awful lot going for it right now. Whew. There, I said it.

It's appropriate to loathe the way this series got to where it's at. I don't like The Deal With The Devil any more than you do. But at some point, a rational person must stop fixating on how a title got to a certain point and just focus on reality: where it's at. And after reading ASM # 592, I have concluded that this is exactly where an action superhero comic should be at.

The beauty of Spider-Man is in its blood simplicity. I can perfectly sum up the current hook as follows:

New NYC mayor J. Jonah Jameson doesn't like Spider-Man and sets a city task force toward hounding him 24/7. Spider-Man gets his hand-shake truce offer rejected and dedicates his life to riling up JJJ in the press 24/7. Let the hijinx ensue.

Do you see how simple that is? See how it makes perfect logical and emotional sense? Do you see how that could drive a whole boatload of highly entertaining stories? I wish more comics would quit trying to re-invent the "event" wheel and take notes from Mark Waid here.

Mark Waid is a guy with a bruised ego right now. Sure, you probably think of him (if you think of him at all) as the Grand Poobah at Boom! Studios. You say "Oh, he's the guy who's getting all those licenses for Boom!, training up their writing staff and making that company nearly relevant." And that's nice.

I don't think Waid sees himself that way at all. He's still nursing the wounds from his last Flash run. The one he poured his heart and soul into and watched as the world took a giant crap on it.

He's wounded. And he really wants to show evryone that he's still got it. I see him as a man on mission to prove that there are a few really great stories left in him, and it's showing through with some virtuoso work and great passion on this 24/7 Spider-Man arc. And that's a good thing. For everybody.

Aside from the driving action in this issue, which is fantastic, you've got character moments and sup-plots delicately planted as well. You've got Spidey in the window with popcorn as the Jameson's argue over the value of Spider-Man. You've got a mystery vigilante introduced. You've got a rescued child telling Spider-Man he reeks. And you've got one hell of a cliff-hanger at the end of the book as well.

Listen, I understand the natural inclination to resist this book. It's too obvious. It's got the stink of Mephisto still feintly on it. And with a rotating cast of writers, can it always be this good? I don't know. Do we really want to invest three times a month when everything else only asks just once? I don't know.

What I can say with certainty right now is that if you're interested in bang-for-your-three-bucks action superhero storytelling, Amazing Spider-Man is really good fit for you.

- Ryan

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