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Spider-Man And His Amazing Three Year Comeback

Graeme McMillan

It’s odd to think of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647 as the end of an era, when the Big Time creative reshuffle is pretty much the same editorial team as Brand New Day editing a creative team that consists of the longest-surviving member of the Brand New Day braintrust and a revolving art-team that consists of Humberto Ramos and some surviving Brand New Day artists. It’s really more of “a shift into an only-slightly different era,” in a lot of ways, but saying that doesn’t really allow for 64-page finale issues like this one.

It’s Good, I should say that now, but it’s also not as good as BND at its best; there’s too much of a sense of both, oddly, playing for time and rushing things, and a forced sense of occasion – Something that also plagued Mark Waid’s “Origin of The Species” arc, I thought – and the result is something that’s oddly unsatisfying despite all the different ingredients. One of the (unintended?) consequences it does have is making you realize how much writers like Fred Van Lente, Joe Kelly and Zeb Wells will be missed on the series, with their ability to balance making things seem fresh and also respectful of everything that’s come before (Waid’s talent on the series was something similar but different: The ability to use continuity in unexpected ways – I think Dan Slott, the new ongoing writer aims for somewhere between the two, but gets overwhelmed at times by the fact that he’s working on a series that he clearly loves as a reader, and loses his nerve or lapses into fan service… even if he is the fan in question. Spider-Man brings out both the best and worst in him as a writer, which is both frustrating and exciting to see); their contributions are by far the best thing in the issue, surprising and silly and scary and sweet as needs be, showing off the versatility of the character.

(Waid’s contribution, a one-page riff on the much-delayed Spider-Man musical, does manage to feature my favorite joke in the entire issue: “Fastest ticket lines on Broadway!” What can I say, I like the dumb/smart ones.)

The other thing that this issue makes you realize is how good BND has been for Spider-Man as a character, and as a series. Compare this to the JMS-era, and it’s stunning to see how quickly the book has repopulated Spider-Man’s supporting cast (and with mostly new creations!), and brought the tone back from the dark melodrama it was left to begin with; as much as BND was initially dismissed as retro, the three year run made changes that will hopefully stick as Big Time begins – I want to see more of Norah, Vin and Carlie, and Jonah as NYC Mayor, and Jonah Snr, and so on. It may not be the familiar characters – and I can’t be the only one who notices that Harry Osborn is written out with the last issue of BND, just as he was written back in with the first, and after so much of the larger BND mythology revolved around him. Hopefully, he’ll stay gone for a bit, to let the book move on – but Amazing Spider-Man has finally become the ensemble book it used to be, again, after far too many years of too many writers forgetting that part of its charm.

So, yeah. It’s a good issue, and a weird capper to a three year run that started out weak but found its footing soon enough, and went on to make the mainstream MU version of the character the strongest he’s been in more than a decade. As a prelude to Big Time next week, though, maybe it’s a challenge: “We’ve built the book back up, Dan. Don’t screw it up.”

4 Responses to “ Spider-Man And His Amazing Three Year Comeback ”

  1. According to icv2.com, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN’s two October issues sold just over 58,000 and just under 57,000 copies. In October 2007, the one issue of FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN on sale that month as part of ONE MORE DAY sold over 110 thousand copies. And immediately before ONE MORE DAY, the three monthly Spider-titles combined to sell over 200,000 copies a month.

    None of which says anything about the quality of the last three years of AMAZING, but does demonstrate that comic book fans will walk away and not come back if you burn them badly enough.


  2. Hey Graeme, I hope to see more of these series overviews like this and the Legion post.

  3. Luke – It’s been so long since I’ve posted here, there’s a lot to catch up on, so you probably will…

  4. … Whereas for myself and roughly 50,000 other readers, BND pretty much broke us of our Spider-Man buying habits, because we actually liked the growth and evolution and progression that the character had gone through during the years that you’re so quick to dismiss. Fortunately, Joe Quesada has proven that it’s perfectly acceptable for “creators” to trash 20 years’ worth of stories to regress them to whatever point they wish, so I look forward to seeing a fan of the pre-retconned Spider-Man taking over Marvel in a few years and undoing everything that you’ve enjoyed and I’ve despised about the past three years.

    If I’d never heard of Spider-Man before BND, and the past three years had been my only exposure to the character, I never would have become a fan, because I disliked everything about the idiotic personalities and plots that they gave him and his supporting cast. As it stands now, the character is all but dead to me.

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