Maybe I’ve been dosed with the Kool-Aid, but I can’t help but admit that the 70s retro Spider-Man revamp has grown on me. Part of it really is the frequency of the thing helping offset the lightness of each issue (by which I mean “almost rushed, throwaway nature,” not lightness of tone) – Something that 52 excelled at, and maybe one of the lessons that Steve Wacker brought to this project: Keep up the momentum and it almost doesn’t matter if the issues are good or not on an individual basis – but there’s also just something nostalgically agreeable about not only this particular version of the character, but also seeing the character treated in a light-hearted manner and given stories that aren’t “This time around: SPIDER-MAN IS ON THE EDGE AND HE’S GONNA MESS YOU UP,” like, oh, the last year or so of Amazing. So, on the whole so far? Brand New Day = Win.
That said, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #548 was weaker than last issue, and I think at least part of that is down to the same thing that made the first part of Brand New Day so disappointing – Dan Slott is either too aware, or makes his readers too aware, of how important Brand New Day is for the book, character and franchise, in terms of relaunch. For the most part, he handles it well (The Spider-Mugger storyline isn’t really that involving right now, but the Maggia deciding that Spider-Man is one of them could be fun down the line, and if nothing else, a lot has happened in the last three issues), but then you get something as clunky and show-stopping as the narration at the end of the book:
“Did you catch all that? Back in costume for one day... The cops think I'm a killer, a new super crook wants me dead, the only people who like me are the mob... And, on yeah, I didn't get pictures of any of it! Aw, who am I kidding? This isn't just the Parker luck! I've got a gift for this! Can't wait to see what I do for an encore!”
Gee, thanks, Mr. Exposition. I might have missed something, if you hadn’t just recapped the story I’d just read. Don’t get me wrong; some kind of summing up of the new status quo, I can see the point of. But to do it in that unsubtle a way, and ending it with a variation of “And just wait to see what we have for you next month!” felt cheap and, well, kind of desperate. It’s a shame, because the majority of the rest of the issue was fun enough, if rushed; for every smart turn-around (the poison is keyed to particular DNA, so Spidey’s okay!), there was something that felt off (Mr. Negative’s secret identity reveal came way too early – It’s a very Stan Lee Spider-Man idea, sure, but it didn’t work this time out because we didn’t care enough about either identity of the character for it to be a surprise, or even for it to be that interesting). There’s obviously a lot of enthusiasm and excitement amongst those working on the books, and equally obviously, a lot of love for the character and good ideas… It’s just that, right now, that’s kind of overwhelming the talent of those involved when it comes to making great stories. This is Okay, but everyone involved has done better.