Bachalo on Spider-Man!
(This is copied over from my comic-related blog Comic POW! On the Entry this is copied from I take a look at how well Volume 1 and Volume 2 fit together as a whole story. See that here)
So as this volume starts, I’d like to see things start to come together a bit more. Or, at the very least I’d like to see some more of Mr. Negative. I’d like to know the resolution to the Spider-Tracer killings and I’d like to know who Menace is. Finally, I want to know about Jackpot and if she has any ties to Mary Jane Watson. No Dan Slott in this volume. Interesting to see how, if at all, this affects anything.
Each issue individually:
Amazing Spider-Man #552:
Bob Gale takes the writer job in this issue. Freak, introduced in an interlude in volume 1, turns out to be the main antagonist. He’s the only enemy from volume 1 to appear in this issue. He steals some money from the Soup Kitchen where Aunt May works and is foiled by Spider-Man. This leads to him injecting himself with some stem cells and becoming a weird monster.
While Jackpot doesn’t make an appearance, other issues from volume 1 continue to loom large. The Daily Bugle under its new owner is becoming a trashy paper. I’m on the fence about whether they made the new owner a little too exaggeratedly annoying — he doesn’t remember anyone’s name, for instance.
One of the mayoral candidates was killed in volume 1 and her funeral leads to Lilly asking her dad, the DA to run for mayor. At an event for him Pete and Carlie starts up their flirtation.
It’s an OK start to this new arc.
Amazing Spider-Man #553:
I’m really not feeling this villain. He’s an annoying addict. So for me the best part about his issue is the tension between Pete’s loyalty to his friends and his job. The Bugle is supporting Crowne so he has to take unflattering photos of Lilly’s father. Since he’s broke, he can’t really afford not to.
This issue also has Jameson finally getting his hands on the Bugle, but it’s changed so much that he doesn’t even realize it’s the Bugle. I love that surprise reveal that he’s not mad that they’ve changed the paper, but that he’s been brought such a horrible paper.
This issue had even more of the bar with no name. Love it!
Overall, this arc is pretty boring to me.
Amazing Spider-Man #554:
This was the last of a series of issues written by Bob Gale. Again, all the non-personal life stuff for Spidey was boring for me. But I did love how JJJ finds out about the Bugle and that Spidey has to give him CPR … again!
Spidey finally gets some traction on the freak thing when speaking to Carlie clues him in to work with his old boss who was the Lizard, Dr Conner.
The personal stuff was much more interesting to me. That included a setup for a possible temporary falling out with Lilly and Osborn over the photos he’s been taking and posting under a fake byline. Also, both Lilly and Betty Brant appeared to hit on him.
Amazing Spider-Man #555:
Although I’d read Avenging Spider-Man #1, I didn’t recognize Zeb Wells, but I was VERY excited about Chris Bachalo on pencils and colors. I absolutely love his semi-cartoony work on Wolverine and the X-Men. I think for a zanier book like Amazing Spider-Man can be at times, his pencils work very well. And I like Chris’ cartoony style WAY more than Humberto Ramos’ more manga-like style in the recent Spider-Island issues. Plus this issue features Wolverine and I LOVE how Bachalo draws Wolverine, especially that mischeviousness he gives to Wolverine’s grin. I also love how he draws Carlie Cooper.
So Spider-Man and Wolverine end up teaming up after Dr. Strange warns them about something evil coming out of this snow storm. They discover some weird guys attacking some dude in the snow. After they defeat them, Wolverine leaves of Spider-Man’s insistence in not killing the bad guys. I thought they were probably Mr. Negative’s henchmen and just looked different because of Chris Bachalo’s style. In the next issue I found out I was wrong.
Zeb got all the humor just right and I really loved this issue.
Amazing Spider-Man #556:
This issue continues to showcase Zeb Wells’ great balance of humor and dark for Spider-Man. We have the issue start off with a hilarious bit about J. Jonah Jameson trying to leave the hospital while still attached to his IV. Then we cut to realizing that it’s a Mayan god, not Mr. Negative who’s the enemy of this arc. We go back to the guy that Spider-Man saved and we get a chance to see that Carlie Cooper is the only responsible person in her precinct.
At the end of this issue we get a HUGE plot twist as Spider-Man gets to the people the doctor asked him to save and go back to the precinct. If I’d been collecting comics back then, I would have been so happy that Spider-Man was being published three times a month because I wouldn’t have been able to wait for the next issue!
Amazing Spider-Man #557:
This is a mostly an action-packed issue involving Spider-Man’s fight with the Mayan god and his acolyte. Another great example of Zeb Wells’ understanding of how to balance the humor and darkness of this kind of Spider-Man story. And I love the way the story ends.
Amazing Spider-Man #558:
We’re back to Bob Gale and the Freak for this issue. Again, I don’t care for that enemy at all. Things get a little sadder for J. Jonah Jameson as his wife separates from him until he gets his act together. This issue does set up a possible return of Lizard as Dr Connors laments having only one arm. It also sets up Osborn as going back to evil, although we’re not sure if that’s why he takes the comatose Freak to Oscorp.
The Volume as a Whole:
So I started off this volume hoping to get some story-lines continuing from volume 1. The only one that was a true continuation was the story involving J. Jonah Jameson’s heart attack. While the effects of volume 1 continued to be felt in the way people reacted to Spider-Man, there was no more jackpot nor Mr. Negative (although Mr. Li appears at the end of this book). There’s also no resolution on the Spider-Tracer killings or even any work by Spider-Man to solve it himself.
This volume is essentially about Freak and the Mayan god. Freak is not compelling to me and the Mayan god seems a throwaway villain. Bob Gale does a pretty good job with Spider-Man, but he’s not as good as Dan Slott or Zeb Wells (at least the way I prefer Spider-Man to be written.