Thursday, January 14, 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #617 Review *Spoilers*

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.   What's got me in such a good mood and singing the 60's cartoon song? Oh, just another fantastic issue of Amazing Spider-Man.  This marks three outstanding issues in a row for the title and I can't recall the last time I've enjoyed an issue of Amazing Spider-Man as much as I have this past month.  Hit the jump for an image and spoiler filled review of this issue.

Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Max Fiumara & Javier Pulido

There's a lot to love about this issue.  We've got Peter Parker as a focus and he's actually likeable for a change.  He doesn't come off like the 30 year old loser that early Brand New Day stories portrayed him as.  He's juggling his supporting cast and potential love interests, his job and other responsibilities and even the Spider-Man bits manage to weave their way into the story in an organic way.  Add the best Rhino story ever (I know, I know, it wouldn't take much to be the best Rhino story) and it makes for a great read.

Is Michele a Skrull or what?  She looks and acts different in every issue...

While not a major part of the plot for this issue, Peter's social life had a lot of developments happening.  Michele is still the crazy roommate, but a lot more subdued than usual. Well, she did come into his room with a shotgun this time, but her dialogue was less of a characiture or stereotype than usual.

Norah, the reporter from Frontline, also gets a lot of face time this issue.  When she isn't being racist, I actually like Norah's character.  She plays off of Peter in a Mary Jane-like manner by taking him out of his comfort zone, keeping him off balance with some sharp wit and dialogue and, generally, being a fun character for Peter to interact with.  Seeing a possible New Year's date emerging between the two was interesting and they even managed to give Norah some development on the reporting side of things where she had been pretty much sidelined since Norman Osborn threatened her to kill a story back in the American Son arc. This fleshes her out more as a character and less as simply "Love Interest #236" for the main character.

 "Can your national newspaper really afford to hire one, lone photographer? That's crazy talk."

Additionally, Peter makes some headway on the job side of things.  The job with J Jonah Jameson at the mayor's office never sat well with me and I didn't see it lasting long.  Nice to see some progress with him being offered a full time position at Frontline.  My only complaint with it is that if they were just going to transplant the entire Daily Bugle staff to a new locale, why go through all that DB and Dexter Bennett nonsense in the first place?  Otherwise, I like how things are progressing on that end.

 "New Rhino, now with scythe accessory and kung-fu grip!"

One of the things I liked about the issue is how it played up the new Rhino angle with a "is it the old one or not" bit that never attempts to misdirect the reader nor does it leave us hanging for long.  It's well done and let's the reader do all the inferring on their own and, even right up until the new Rhino appears, I still wasn't sure if it was a new Rhino or just a new costume.

Speaking of the new Rhino, I like the new design, though the scythe doesn't make a lick of sense to me.  It was also pretty crazy how he smashed the old Rhino over the head with a horse (yes, a living one).  Apparently, when a horse is smashed up side the head of someone, it makes a "SKLTSCHHH" sound.  Good to know. 

Favourite scene in the comic.

While the Rhino vs Rhino fight was short lived and mostly about the new Rhino trying to prove himself by killing his predecessor, it served the purpose of showing us how the old Rhino has grown since last we saw him.  He's always been a bit of a joke to me.  Just a random character thrown in for Spider-Man to bang off of once in a while and never a real threat.  His appearance in this issue has transformed him from a joke to a full fledged character in my eyes.  I actually care about the character and, sadly, I think this is the first time I've ever heard his real name.  I'm surprised Spider-Man even knows it.  Just goes to show, there are no bad characters, just bad writers.  

 "Why?" Better than the usual response I get when I ask a girl out for dinner.

What was interesting to note about this issue was that it was $3.99 and had a back-up story showing how Rhino went straight during Civil War and eventually met his wife when he was released early from prison due to overcrowding and good behaviour (he didn't escape during a riot when he had the chance, etc).  It was a nice addition to the issue and rounded out the story of an already fantastic issue.  If the title retains the same quality as these last few issues or if it could be as much added value as this issue provided, I wouldn't mind seeing more back-ups in the future to go with the $3.99 pricetag.

Verdict - Must Read.  This issue, combined with the previous two by Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido, are the perfect examples of how to do a Spider-Man comic.  Peter is likeable for the first time in years (yes, years), Spider-Man is light-hearted and fun to watch, Peter's supporting cast has been interesting and, most importantly, they aren't rubbing the whole Brand New Day status quo in our face.  Aside from the lack of a marriage, these issues could have taken place at any point in Spidey's history and been just as good.  Why can't every issue be like these ones?

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El Gostro said...

Agreed,Joe Kelly once again proves he can turn any character around,no matter how underrated and create a relatable creature for which we end up cheering for (Deadpool anyone?)

Chris said...

Great review, I loved this issue, it was not what I expected at all but in a good way.

Klep said...

This isn't the first time Rhino's been made out to be a sort of tragic figure, but it sounds like this may be the best it's been done.

Kirk Warren said...

@Klep - I think there was a Tangled Web issue by Paul Jenkins (may be misremembering) that was really good featuring the Rhino as well.

smkedtky said...

I didn't care for the Sandman story (nor any of THE GAUNTLET issues so far) but, I agree, this was a great issue in every way. Joe Kelly is the most consistant of the Spider-Man writers. I think the last issue I enjoyed even close to this one was the Deadpool issue Kelly wrote a few months ago.

Klep said...

@Kirk: I think we're thinking of the same thing. It was a story where the Rhino actually gained superintelligence which he used to greatly improve his lot in life, but ended up even more isolated and dissatisfied than he had been before.

Colt said...

Klep and Kirk, you guys are both thinking of Flowers for Rhino, by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo, which ran in Tangled Web #5 & 6. It's actually collected in Best of Spider-Man V. 1.

Rhino also had a sympathetic turn recently when he turned up in the Punisher arc featuring Kraven, which was drawn by Cory Walker and Scott Wegener.

Anonymous said...


not "higher"!!!!

spell check next time...

Anonymous said...

You sure this could be The Rhino's best? Afterall when he was in a couple Deadpool issues those were good, but it looks like he took Frank's advice to get out of the life.

Anonymous said...

Because of the American fans, Spanish fans have to swallow a Spiderman forgetful, stupid situations, and ultimately botched revivals something regrettable.

True, the last numbers have improved somewhat. But the regression suffered by the character is evident. Besides the dance artists and writers make this stage have no consistency, its own entity.

The explanations to try to paste the continuity of a BND before OMD is obviously bad, every allusion to the past is sloppy and bad. Spiderman and hopefully try again find her baby, as its possible or not possible death should be even more important than the death of Uncle Ben and the importance they have is minimal.

spiderman games said...

Nice spiderman blog, i like spiderman games alot, i want to play free games for spiderman!

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