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Subj: Re: My Thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #647
Posted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 07:43:33 pm EDT (Viewed 24 times)
Reply Subj: My Thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #647
Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 at 09:57:07 pm EDT (Viewed 38 times)

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According the hype, this issue is the “epilogue” to “Brand New Day,” which apparently means the end of the three-times-a-month, rotating creative team format as opposed to the status quo created by “One More Day.” Any way, much like the issue itself, here are my rather lengthy thoughts about issue #647 as a whole.













Basically, the entire issue, like issue #600 is comprised of several stories, the first one being by Fred Van Lente and Max Fiumara, which serves to make “Brand New Day” appear to come full circle. In this case, this is done by deliberately evoking imagery and situations from earlier issues. Once again, a party is being thrown for Harry, only instead of welcoming him home, it’s saying good-bye. Once again, Overdrive (the villain whose power is to magically “pimp out” cars) is the villain, but instead of getting away, Spidey manages to catch him. There are even panels which, with the exception of Fiumara’s quirky and hyper-stylized art, are virtual re-creations of panels from Swing Shift and issue #546. Certainly, the expectation here is for you to have been following “Brand New Day” from the beginning to get all the references and in-jokes. Also, Peter forced to don on a cheap Spider-Man Halloween costume to rescue the Paris Hilton-like socialite from Bob Gale’s Amazing Spider-Man Digital series from Overdrive (who at one point changes the socialite’s limo into the Spider-Mobile) does make for an amusing action-packed sequence.

Likewise, this theme of “coming full circle” also tied into another theme the story had: “irony.” This is especially the case with the various characters dressing up in costume for Harry’s party. Some, like Flash dressing up as Spidey driving the Spider-Moblie, and Peter as J. Jonah Jameson, and Harry, along with his newborn son Stanley (yes, that’s his name, get it?) dressed as Doc Ock were amusing and charming. Others like Carlie dressed as (and actually mistaken for) the Black Cat and Mary Jane dressed as Jackpot were just odd and trying just a bit too hard.

The story also sets-up three key developments for upcoming stories as well. The first being that Harry, in an effort to protect Stanley from Norman Osborn, has to go into hiding and thus says good-bye to “the gang,” at least for now. It’s certainly ironic, given the effort Marvel made to bring Harry back as a member of the supporting cast, to have him seemingly be written out yet again. Since Harry no longer wants anything to do with his father, has a second chance at being a dad, and--as he tells Peter in this story--he no longer blames Spider-Man as a source for his problems, all of the internal conflicts that used to make up his character have been resolved, so why should he stick around as a regular? However, if Zeb Wells and Michael Delmundo’s epilogue is anything to go by, not only does Marvel still have plans for Harry, but given the way he gets revenge on Vin Gonzales after the later makes not-too-subtle threats against his son, Harry may have wound up becoming more like his father than would care to admit.

And speaking of Vin Gonzales, this issue might as well have had him had a tattoo that read “future super villain” on his arm instead of the Green Goblin one he now sports. Him being cast as a disgraced cop being disliked by his former police officers and being Norman Osborn’s “main man” on the outside definitely sets him up to be either the new Hobgoblin or the new host for the Venom symbiote, which hopefully will take him past his current one-note status. At least he’s not nearly as bad or annoying a character as his sister, Michele.

The final development is Peter and Carlie officially becoming a couple, which while it was certainly something the various writers having been building up towards, it still comes across as being very contrived and forced. Try as Van Lente might, one doesn’t get the impression that Peter asked Carlie to be his girlfriend because he loves her, but because he felt pressured to do so instead. Granted, the idea that Peter is afraid to make his intentions clear due to his fear of Spider-Man getting the way is apparent enough, but Carlie still comes across like a needy, guilt-tripping hypocrite to the point where one has to ask, “Why would Peter even want to go out with a woman like her?” And having Mary Jane--the former Mrs. Spider-Man of all people--play matchmaker for them certainly doesn’t help promote the idea that Peter and Carlie make for an ideal couple, no matter how hard Marvel wants this to be the case. In fact, the scene in which MJ convinces Peter to ask Carlie out by reminding him that he's not responsible for the decisions other people choose to make and that he has a right to happiness actually reinforces the notion that she is the woman Peter still ought to be with.

The other stories in this issue are, like “Brand New Day” itself, are a hodgepodge of quality in terms of storytelling and art. Bob Gale and Karl Kesel’s “Stand Off,” for instance, is a well-drawn but utterly ridiculous story showing yet another chapter in Spidey and J. Jonah Jameson’s continuing feud, in this case over a newly passed ordinance that makes it felony for anyone not affiliated with a union to interfere or be involved with city operations. It certainly attempts to be a satire on bureaucracy, and an obvious one at that.

The I Kill Giants team of Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura also return for “Norah’s Last Night in NYC.” Under the premise of Spidey taking Norah for a “night on the town” in an effort to have her stay in New York, this is really Kelly’s love letter to his own contribution to Spider-Man--Norah Winters. How else to explain why he has Norah deliver the knock-out punch to a super-villain, or Spidey praise her by saying “New York needs the truth” and that “It’s a better city with [her] in it.” Granted, Norah, out of all the new characters “Brand New Day “ introduced, is the best realized with the most distinctive personality, but this is a bit much. Although it was a cute story with appropriately cute art.

Mac Guggenheim and Graham Nolan’s “American Hero” is also a love letter to a supporting cast member, this time Flash Thompson. As he did in issue #574, Guggenheim shows how Flash sees Spider-Man as a source of inspiration, but he also has the character take the opportunity to tell Spidey what inspiration actually means, nor does Spidey have to blame himself for the loss of Flash’s legs. While it’s primarily a dialogue between the two characters and pretty much filler, this, for me, was the best story out the issue.

The last story entitled “You Again?” written by Van Lente and Dan Slott, and penciled by Adam Archer, is basically Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead tale in which we learn what happened to Mia Flores--the girl whom Peter infamously macked on in the very first page of ASM #546. Apparently, she’s been trying to still get in touch with Peter in order to be part of Harry’s “entourage,” and the running gag, of course, is that this obscure character was actually more involved in the lives of Peter, his supporting cast, and villains than even they (and the readers) realized. Of course, the upside and the downside to this is the only way to really appreciate the gag is if one has been following Amazing Spider-Man since the start of “Brand New Day” up until now.

All in all, this feels more like a celebration of themselves and their own accomplishments rather than a celebration of Spider-Man and the shape of things to come. Too much self-congratulatory patting oneself on the back can easily be interpreted as being conceited and egotistical, and this is no different. And given the cyclical nature of comics, it seems a bit pre-mature to consider this period of Spider-Man’s history to be given such a milestone worthy send-off. Still, regardless of what you may think about “Brand New Day” as a whole, The brain trust/webheads certainly did a capable and demanding job of churning out 100+ issues within a three-year period, despite a rotating schedule, constant pressure, and possible delays. So, I guess that’s worthy of something.

Wasn't Overdrive in the web-ball of villains Spidey threw in the police station in 645?

Come on editors, at least go more than two issues without a glaring contradiction.

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