This past weekend I caught up with my Spidey comics reading including ASM up to 553 and Ultimate 119. I deliberately stayed clear of picking up any comics at WonderCon since I’ve got a subscription with my shop and it was a few weeks since I last visited.
Brand New Day continues to bug me. The artwork is fine. I actually rather like Salvador Larocca’s more realistic style and prefer it to some of the other artists’ work. “Spidey’s Braintrust” of Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim, Dan Slott and Zeb Wells are doing a good job at trying to restore a classic Spidey story feel. The bits and pieces do harken back with the right verbal punches, JJJ squirming to get out of the hospital, things just no going right for Peter one way or the other… but all together it’s hard to get invested in Brand New Day.
The new Menace villain isn’t that interesting and in a weird play they even make fun of the whole “look, there’s another goblin in NYC” aspects of the character. What connection does he have to the other goblins and does anyone really care? The next villian, Freak, is similarly silly… let’s take a low-life thief nicknamed Freak and have him transformed into a real freak of nature. They even did a misdirection with Jackpot, revealing her secret identity to be someone who doesn’t seem to remember her life as the superhero… except I don’t think anyone really believes that she’s not somehow related to MJ. And ultimately there’s still the feeling of just how long will things go on until something returns us to the status quo ante.
On the positive side, Ultimate Spider-Man continues to be good. In that respect, it’s probably better that Bendis stayed on while Bagley left ensuring story continuity. Issues 118 and 119 establishes Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in the Ultimate universe with Peter’s classmate Liz Allen breaking out in flame and then pursued by Spidey and Iceman to sort out what to do next. This is certainly a break from any past versions. Of course, Firestar herself started as an original character in the cartoon series and only later introduced as a mutant in mainstream Marvel continuity. I’m just waiting to see where things go… will there really be an Amazing Friends team in the Ultimate universe or is this just a typical story arc and they move on to the next one?
Last Spidey topic is the new Spectactular Spider-Man cartoon. The series is fun, integrates a lot of the standard mythology from various incarnations into a new variation, and it actually has Gwen Stacy as the female protagonist. I also think this the youngest incarnation of Spidey for the small screen… the 1960’s, 1980’s and 1990’s and early 2000’s MTV versions all had Peter in college. A high school Peter seems more appropriate for kids to watch and probably provide better lessons as he learns from mistakes both as a superhero and as a teenager. The show’s Wikipedia entry indicates the classic rogues gallery and even Mary Jane showing up later in the season. Very spiffy.