REVIEW: Amazing Spider-Man #648 by Slott & Ramos

Amazing Spider-Man #648 “Big Time”
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Humberto Ramos

Well folks, Brand New Day is officially over and Spidey and company are moving on under the new “Big Time” banner. And I’m excited, skeptical, but excited. Let me give you a rundown of what goes on in this latest issue and then we’ll get to my fears and concerns (as well as hopes and dreams. Gotta keep it positive.)

Our issue begins with Spidey leading the Mighty Avengers on an attack against a bunch of giant octopus robots set on Manhattan by Doc Ock (and his new Sinister Six – which includes Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Rhino & Chameleon) Spidey is, of course, leading the charge because he’s got the most familiarity with Ock’s technological machinations. The robots don’t give them much trouble (and even less when the F4 show up to help) but the whole thing’s really just a distraction for the Avengers – Chameleon (posing at Steve Rogers) and Electro are sneaking into a nearby military base (where everyone’s favorite Man-Wolf, John Jameson is stationed) where he has them unleash his Octo-bots…for some reason.

To add to the distraction, Ock commands all of his robots to detonate in two minutes. Not that he actually wants to destroy a good chunk of New York and kill millions, he knows Spidey will figure out of how stop it because:

And of course, Spidey does figure it out (while Iron Man and Reed are sitting on their thumbs) he syncs the clocks in the robots to the clocks in the rest of the city so that they jump an hour back giving the Avengers/F4 plenty of time to dispose of them.

Following Spidey’s grand victory, we flash to the sorry state of Peter Parker’s life. Unable to work as a photographer, he’s currently doing grunt work over at the new Frontline offices (Phil Urich is also lugging around boxes as well!.) Norah pops in for a bit, discussing her research on the new “Goblin culture” which is popping up around the city and then the gang is visited by Mayor Jameson and his lovely wife Marla. In order to go on with their marriage, Marla is making Jonah make amends to certain people, one of those being Robbie Robertson (who always got a healthy dose of crap from Jonah with his morning coffee) so the purpose of the visit is to have Jonah bequeath the Daily Bugle name to Robbie and the Frontline staff (they purchased it from Dexter Bennet.)

Continuing with the crapfest that is Peter Parker’s life, he heads to his apartment only to find that he’s been evicted. Well, more or less, Michelle (being the one who pays rent) is leaving, thus leaving Peter without a place to stay. There’s a quick goodbye and Peter attempts to find a new place to crash (why he doesn’t just go to Avengers Mansion/Tower is beyond me. There’s a reoccurring point he brings up throughout the issue about not all of the Avengers knowing his secret ID but I hardly see how it matters)

He tries Randy Robertson. No dice. Betty Brant doesn’t pick up his phone call. He tries Carlie as well but she doesn’t think it’s a good idea what with their new relationship.

While he continues his search, Marla Jameson and John Jameson go to the Penthouse of Jay Jameson and Aunt May. Jay wants to do some catching up with his grandson and Marla wants to help get Peter some gainful employment. After learning about his scientific prowess, she decides to make a call.

Desperate for a place to live, Pete tries Flash Thompson won’t let him crash at his place (mostly because him and Betty are knocking boots again.) Then, he even tries MJ:

Let me just take a quick sidebar and say until these panels, I was NOT a fan of Humberto Ramos’ art, but he just sold me with this. That face MJ is making is like, that’s a perfect artistic representation of the face someone makes before they explode with laughter.

Finally resigning to the fact that he’s SOL, Peter heads to Aunt May’s place, ready to ask if he can move in with, again. Before he even gets the chance, Dr. Jameson is telling him about the appointment she’s got for him at Horizon Labs. On the way their, Peter’s Spider Sense goes off, alerting him that they’re being watched by….I dunno what the hell this guy is.

I’m calling him Spider Slayer. I feel like he’s a new Spider Slayer. Whatever he is, he’s got a vendetta against Jameson and wants to find someone to help him enact it. First name on his list? Mac Gargan, who we then see at the Raft having his symbiote forcibly removed with sonics.

Peter gets taken to Horizon labs where he meets Max Modell, some sort of tech-whiz extraordinaire. He introduces Pete to two members of his think tank and while viewing an experiment with synthetic vibranium, everything goes haywire. Luckily, Peter is able to use to Spider-abilities to crawl across the floor, punch in some Wakandan Calculus (Yup) and save the day. The team is impressed with his smarts, but decides to quiz him a bit further.

As you can imagine, Peter passes their tests. The Parker luck at it’s finest! Answer questions about your own Rogues Gallery, make bank:

Things are looking like they’re about to go pretty damn well for Peter Parker. What could rain on his parade? Well, one of those things might just be the Kingpin. The other? Roderick Kingsley, aka, The Hobgoblin.

Final Score: 8/10 – I liked this issue a lot, I really really did. I’m a bit sad to see Michelle go, but all in all, I think the supporting cast is being prepped to be utilized by Slott in a big bad way. We’ve got a secretive new villain, we’ve got the return of an old one, two really (and I thought his identity was going to been teased at little more, not an outright reveal like we got) and that cool new job for Peter Parker. Things are shaping up great…but there are some things I’m concerned about.

For one thing, I’m wondering if we’re only just getting teased with these supporting characters like we did during Brand New Day. I’d really like to see something come out of Betty and Flash’s relationship, damn it.

My other big concern is the writing. The thing that stopped me from giving this issue a perfect score is that at times it just seemed waaaaaaaaay overwritten. There was the way it kept getting beat over our heads that Marla Jameson was a scientist, and even worse was the way it kept getting beat over our heads that Peter Parker is a genius:

This is just one of the grossest mishandlings of of the “Show, don’t tell” rule ever (not to mention none of the words coming out of the HT’s mouth sound remotely in character – C’mon Slott, you wrote a fantastic Johnny Storm in Spider-Man/Human Torch: I’m With Stupid – what’s going on here?)

And then there’s this:

I’m just not a fan of fart jokes, really (no, this scene did not affect my overall score of the issue)

Other than those little things I’m worried about, this was a fantastic comic and if you’re a Spider-Man fan, you should definitely pick it up. It’s been a rough year, but I think it might finally be a good time to be a webhead again.

BONUS REVIEW!

Spider-Girl in: The Girl’s Alright With Me

Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Clayton Hentry

Oh Arana, my poor, poor Arana…I really can’t believe they’ve got your traipsing about in a Julia Carpenter costume, soaked in the tears of every May Parker fan out there. I also don’t know they’ve given you a Twitter as a narrative device. Does it work? Yes, but from a logical standpoint, having a Twitter seems like a pretty crappy way to keep your secret identity safe.

Not really much to say about this back-up story. It’s short, well-written, drawn well, and all in all pleasant. Aran-I mean Spider-Girl, gets some mentorly advice from Spider-man and genuinely does her thing. I was expecting a lot, but I was hoping for a reason behind the name change.

Can’t say I won’t miss the old moniker, but I can see why Marvel’s doing this. It’s probably (hell, definitely) a helluva lot easier to move books called “Spider-” anything than it is to move one called Arana.

Didn’t at all get me pumped for her new ongoing (especially if they’re going to keep up the Twitter thing) but it was nice to be reminded that Anya Corazon is a character in the Marvel Universe (especially with the demise of Young Allies)

There’s no reason to not read this, you already paid for ASM #648.

Final Rating: What does it matter? Why wouldn’t you read a backup story? But for real – probably like a 3 out of 5

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