Amazing Spider-Man #626
Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
I love Spidey. I'm a bona fide junkie. I got the fever for the flavor of a... well you get the idea.
The Spidey Trust has its ups and downs. The problem with having a rotating stable of creators on a book is that voicing becomes an issue. This is not as big a deal when there are three different books - you can get different insights to the character. The problem with there only being one book is that you are trying to generate one narrative and any discrepancies become glaring.
Gale was the first big problem. His issues generally brought down the average for Brand New Day - his stories were tired, his Peter all wrong and his ideas generally felt out of place with everyone else's. Next Guggenheim became the whipping boy. Oh, by no means were his stories as bad they just lacked the same level of fun as the remaining trustees. Now Van Lente takes his turn at the bottom of the heap.
I like Van Lente. Action Philosophers and Comic Book Comics are pure geek thrills. His Hercules has been on of Marvel's hidden joys - well until he got overly wordy recently.
Here, though, Peter is just off. He's trying to be the goof that we all know and love, but it just doesn't work. The dialogue is clunky and the inner monologue clumsy.
Then there are the problems with the story. Why would the recently ruined Parker be going to take pictures he won't be able to sell? (You could write it off as Michelle not knowing about his job woes, but she makes it clear that she knows later on.) Why does Michelle give in so easily to Parker's charms after years of being aggravated with him? What the hell is all that Hood stuff about anyhow?
Then there is Gaydos. My Spider-man is a four color marvel. He jumps out of the page. The lines are crisp and exact. It is supposed to be a fun book and the art accentuates that - whether it is Ditko, Romita or Martin behind the pencil.
Gaydos does none of these things. Spider-man almost seeps away in the book. He hides in the dark. I know I sound like a fuddy duddy, but I don't get making Spidey a dark book. Sure, for a arc or a mini, it is fine. I loved me some Dark Reign. Gaydos just exudes gritty noir to me and at the end of the day, Spider-man is not a grimy crime book. It is wise cracking spandex euphoria with a hint of relativism (druggie friends, job woes, girl troubles). The dark should be on the outskirts of the book trying to get in, not overwhelming the entire attitude of the book.
To be honest, I feel like an American Idol judge. The writing isn't that bad. The story not unusual or out of place. The art is even good in its own way. All of it certainly sounds good on paper, but there is something about the execution that I just don't get. It feels like a train wreck to me and it's all just painfully average.
Score - a unanimous 5