Amazing Spider-Man #597 - 'American Son Part 3' - Kelly, Checchetto and Chuckry
Story - Spider-Man is in an odd place at the moment, as I suppose you all know, even though it's been over a year, the One More Day shit-storm is still going on in forums all over the internet, it seems that any discussion of the character has to somehow go back to that story and the character of Mary Jane. And to be honest, it's getting a little tiresome, I've been one of BND's biggest supporters, I like MJ, but I like a single Spider-Man just as much, so from here on out, this review will not be about One More Day, or MJ, or how Spider-Man may or may not be broken and a villain, it will be about the current blockbuster arc, American Son, which I am enjoying a lot, and this middle chapter is no exception. Joe Kelly and Marco Checchetto do good stuff here.
Ever since Brand New Day began, there have been a few 'tentpole' arcs, where big shit goes down, ASM is the continuing soap opera of Spider-Man's life, and these arcs are feature length specials. New Ways To Die was the first story like this, with Spider-Man facing off against the Thunderbolts, and Character Assassination was the second, where the Spidey Brain-Trust wrapped up a year's worth of stories, who is Menace? Who will be Mayor? Who is the Spider-Tracer Killer? American Son is the third such story, and is in many ways a successor to these previous arcs, it features the return of Norman and his team, now no longer the Thunderbolts, but the Avengers, and also a continuation of Lily Hollister's story as Menace. These 2 plots mesh together well, as they are connected through one man, Norman Osborn. This arc marks the beginning of Amazing Spider-Man's tie-in to Dark Reign, and it makes sense, Norman is Spidey's big bad and it's always fun to see them square off, especially now the balance is tipped so far in Ozzie's favour. Joe Kelly writes a strong Norman, repeated references to 'sheep' show his sense of superiority, and his understated malice.
The plot of this issue is simple, Spider-Man is undercover as Venom in Avengers Tower, trying to save Harry, while Harry is himself trying to save Lily, who is pregnant with his child. Spidey's efforts to impersonate Venom are a highlight of the issue, he is able to be much cruder and it's interesting to see our hero act in such a way. Joe Kelly is a very clever writer here, and it shows, on the first page, when Spider-Man swears, I thought, hmmm, that's odd, Spider-Man never swears, and then, in the very next panel, Kelly addresses it, good stuff. This is a different kind of thing than we're used to from Spider-Man, it really shows the lengths Dark Reign has driven him too, what he's willing to do because Norman is in power. But he still remains Spider-Man, he wasn't willing to let that monster kill him, and he's still funny, that whole Julia Roberts riff, was good stuff, Kelly is one of the best current writers for Spider-Man's type of humour. Spider-Man's fight with Daken, Wolverine's son was also very strong, I don't know much about Daken at all, except he's got a Mohawk and is kind of lame, but this was a good fight, he held his own against Spider-Man, and the use of pheromones led to some interesting artistic choices. Maybe I've judged Daken too harshly up until now, maybe he's a good character?
Harry's arc is also very interesting, his return was quite controversial, but I'm glad to have him back, he's one of Spider-Man's strongest supporting character's, he's just such a fuck-up, but he means well, and the current Spider-Man writers have certainly put him through the mill, his Fiancee is a super-villain, his dad rules the world, he relapsed into alcohol, and now this. Kelly writes a very strong Harry, he's using his ingenuity, and he's trying to save someone he loves. But he's also under the hold of his dad, the final scene, where he sides with Norman over Spider-Man has very interesting consequences, and I don't know where the character will go from here, will he become American Son? Who knows. That whole final scene was excellent, and quite surprising, first Harry reveals that it's the real Spider-Man, then Hawkeye fires arrows into his legs, disabling him, and then Norman shoots him in the head! Now obviously Spider-Man isn't dead, obviously his Venom suit is bullet-proof or something, but it was still a good way for an issue to go out, and left me wanting the next issue very badly.
But this issue wasn't just all Norman, all the time, we get to spend some time with Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson Senior as they plan their wedding, and tease the return of a certain classic Spider-Man foe, that tease was very compelling, the whole 'something terrible/something great' bit was sinister as hell. Can't wait for #600, where Doctor Octopus will get his return to the big time.
Overall, this was a typically strong issue of Amazing Spider-Man, Joe Kelly is a perfect fit for the character, all the humour is there, but there is a darker edge, as should be expected with Dark Reign! Norman is perfect, Harry is interesting, and the stakes are amped up as high as they can go. Top that off with a surprising last page, and a tease for Doc Ock, if you've been following Spider-Man, you're sure to enjoy this one too.
Art - Marco Checchetto is an artist I'm unfamiliar with, but he does an able job filling in for Phil Jiminez. He has the fluidity that's needed for Spider-Man, and his facial expressions are good, particularly on Harry and Norman, I thought he did a good job of differentiating the two, despite their ridiculous hair. I mentioned before how his art helped the Spider-Man/Daken fight a lot, he used a lot of close-ups, making the reader as disoriented as the character was, good stuff. There were a few problems, like one pose where Spider-Man's legs looked all bulbous, but overall it was very strong, I wouldn't be averse to seeing him do plenty more work on the character.
Best Line - 'Thus, Norman Osborn shows me the only real advantage of posing as Venom... I can swear in public without it winding up on YouTube'
Last edited by Punchy
on Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.