Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mini-Reviews: Brand New Day

I've previously reviewed a couple issues of Spider-Man's Brand New Day story here and here. Now that the thrice-monthly title is nearing the six month mark, I thought I'd review each individual arc and see what's shaking, finishing with the newest issue that came out this week. Here goes.

Issues 546-548 - Dan Slott and Steve McNiven

The introductory arc is pretty much mostly set-up. We're introduced, very quickly, to the entire supporting cast, including the mysterious Jackpot, Mister Negative, Mr Bennett, owner of the Daily Bugle, and some girls who are possible love interests. Parker's money problems are given first place in terms of conflict, while a mugger wearing a Spidey mask, and the new villain take passenger seat. This is a good arc that highlights Slott's amazing skill are writing Spider-Man dialogue. The art is also fairly solid. A good first arc, not great.

Issues 549-551 - Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca

Now that the pieces are put into place, the Spidey-Braintrust lays out more problems for Peter Parker, including a "gray Goblin", a really naive and amateurish Jackpot, and supercops after the unlicensed Spider-Man. Guggenheim writes a really good Spider-Man, with puns and jokes that show how much he really talks during a fight. Larroca's art is a little too
serious for my taste, but it's still very nice. I like how the Spider-Tracer and Jackpot are ongoing plots, like a soap. This is very good.

Issues 552-554 - Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez

Parker's money problems and his problems with the DB (the new Daily Bugle) are at the forefront, while a new villain, a meth addict turned evolving freak (thanks to stealing some of Doc Connors' experiments) is the big bad this month. Gale, who wrote Back To The Future, writes a really old-school Spider-Man story, without the spark and verve of Dan Slott's dialogue. This was probably the worst arc that I've read, and it pains me to say so considering that the great Jimenez is on pencils. Nothing really jumped out at me with this arc save for the artwork, otherwise this was an average read.

Issues 555-557 - Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo

I have previously reviewed an issue from this arc, but I never read the rest of it. This was a terrific arc with terrific dialogue and terrific art. In a huge blizzard, some scientist is going to sacrifice some of Spidey's supporting cast (by coincidence) to an ancient Mayan god, but Spidey and Wolverine have a better idea. Effectively using the supporting cast that we know next to nothing about is the highlight of this entire arc. I was so impressed by the quality of writing in this and by the quality of arc. This is what Brand New Day is all about.

Issue 558 - Bob Gale and Barry Kitson

I thought Kitson was awesome, allegedly. Certainly not in this issue. Gale continues his boring run on Freak with this final issue that shows that Kitson can't draw Spider-Man - he's too frowny. Also, everybody looks like they're from a 90's era Image comic. The best thing I can say about this issue is that a lot of the threads from previous arcs are picked up again, like Menace and Freak and the cops and JJJ. Nothing's resolved, but this is serial storytelling, so who knows when and if they will? This issue was okay.

Issues 559-561 - Dan Slott and Marcos Martin

Peter Parker paparazzi? That's the main thrust of the plot behind this arc, along with a mysterious new supervillain called Paperdoll who gets really thin and stuff. This arc features a terrific panel layout job by one Marcos Martin, who also gives great Romita Sr-style clothes and hair to people, but is unfortunately not adept at facial expressions. Slott's dialogue is predictably good, and his introduction of Mary Jane also good. It's too bad it was just a lackluster affair with the paparazzi and the Paperdoll stuff.

Issue 562 - Bob Gale and Mike McKone

Bob Gale's Bookie storyline comes to a head when he sets up Screwball (the villain from last arc) to dress as Spider-Man and Peter Parker hits the bar with no name, the bar filled with villains. Classic Parker luck. Well, again, Gale is inept at writing dialogue that doesn't sound flat or thirty years old, but this time, the story is more interesting, and again, uses the supporting cast very effectively. I believe this is part one of a two-parter, and so far I'm enjoying it.

Conclusion?

4 out of 7 arcs are good, with the other 3 being either average or terrible, and this brings it to a 57 percent success rate in my book. So, Amazing Spider-Man, you pass with a C-. I will continue reading this, but I probably will never buy it in trade form. That is, until JRjr gets on board.

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