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Review Group: Amazing Spider-Man #626

Dragavon had the pick for new comics shipping March 24th and he selected Amazing Spider-Man #626 by Fred Van Lente and Michael Gaydos.
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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

"The RG is very schizo this week." - Punchy

As usual, Punchy is right.  The Review Group was straight up crazy this week.  If Messrs. Van Lente or Gaydos or anyone who worked on this book happens to be reading this, I apologize in advance.
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0324-amazingspider-man_cover.jpgReview by spidertour02

The Good

Finally, Michele is a character! Kind of. Unlike the racist stereotype that she had been up to this point, Michele shows another facet of her previously nonexistent personality. When Peter and Michele meet in the bar at the end of the issue, I got a sense of hope that she might turn out to be something after all. It took them far too long to get here, but at least we're here.

The art by Gaydos is mostly good, and he does very good renditions of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Michele Gonzales.

The Bad

The story in this issue was poor, and full of glaring holes.

For starters, the premise of the Hood having a bunch of thugs battle over the Scorpion suit doesn't make any sense considering the Hood's access to superhuman criminals. Also, the entire point of the Scorpion was that he was superhuman, so putting a random thug in the suit accomplishes nothing.

Another glaring inconsistency is Peter's "anonymous white guy" disguise. He banks on his anonymity to avoid getting the crap beat out him ... which wouldn't really work considering that he was all over the newspapers and television only days earlier. I mean, damn, it was only last issue that people were recognizing him on the street and the unemployment line. At least one thug would have recognized him, and then the stories of Peter Parker associating with gangs and criminals would dig him an even deeper hole.

Yet another problem with the story is how Spidey deals with the criminals: he sends tons of steel girders falling on them. Remember, this is the guy that doesn't kill supervillains because his life is an enormous guilt trip. And he drops tons of construction materials onto the bad guys to get away. Right.

And this is one top of little mistakes like Scorpia being able to sting Spidey without any warning from his Spider-sense, or Spider-Man's webshooters suddenly having more recoil than a shotgun. I was also a little disappointed that Van Lente chose to include both Bushwacker and Tombstone, only to give them such meaningless roles in the story. They were simply throwaway hoodlums here.

The Ugly

Gaydos draws the worst renditions of Bushwacker and Tombstone that I have ever seen. In fact, I wouldn't have even recognized Tombstone if he hadn't been identified by name, because Gaydos drew him as a blonde white guy instead of an African-American albino. Whoops.

Grades

Story

I've already aired my big problems with this half-assed attempt at a story, so I don't have anything else to say other than that I would give it a generous 3/10.

Art

I liked the art for the most part, outside of my problems with Bushwacker and Tombstone. I don't care for Gaydos' coloring, but his linework is pretty solid. I think a 7/10 is appropriate.

Overall

Do the math and it's a 5, mostly thanks to the artwork. This series has been getting progressively worse picking itself up last year. All of the positive vibes I had been getting from the excellent issue 600 and the great Chameleon arc that followed are long gone.


asm_14.jpgReview by starlord

I read it twice, hoping beyond hope that there would be something in this that I actually enjoyed. There was... one word: "Sup?" One panel, one word, and it actually made me chuckle. That's something that Amazing hasn't done for me since the later part of the twentieth century.

Let me say first and foremost that the art and coloring of this book has never been worse. That's not to say that I don't think there's a place for this art - I believe there is; but it's not this book. This would work in one of Marvel's Noir series rather well.

Story wise, I'm bored. I know Peter has a hard luck life. I knew it back in the early 1970's when I started reading this title. Sure some of the characters are new (and rather boring) but it's the same old song folks. The best story I've read during this Gauntlet is the Rhino's, and it wasn't the new dud that was interesting, it was the next step in the original that had me wanting to read it.

I tried... I really did. Spidey was my first comic, my first love of animation. But this run ranks second worst ever to me, with Devin Grayson and Bruce Jones' run of Nightwing being first.

Story: 1 (only for the 'sup panel)
Art: 0
Final Score: 1 (That 'sup was pretty funny)


asm_13.jpgReview by amlah6

I really like post-Brand New Day Spider-Man. I like it a lot. There's just more of it than I can keep up with so I've fallen way behind. Maybe I need to start reading it in trades or something because between this and that Rhino issues we reviewed a couple of months back, the revolving door of Spider-Man creators are turning out some fan-freaking-tastic comic books.

I haven't read a lot of Fred Van Lente's stuff and what I have read has been more than a bit underwhelming. This comic though was pitch perfect. I haven't read an issue of ASM since that Rhino issue and I didn't feel lost even a tiny bit. Between the recap and the tiniest bit of exposition, Van Lente caught me up on recent events and made it feel perfectly fluid and natural. It was a lot like reading a comic from 20 years ago before the industry became story arc dependent and it was very refreshing. As for the story itself, it's just a great Peter Parker story. The job/money stuff, the relationship with his roommate, that's just classic Spider-Man comics right there.

When I saw Gaydos on the solicitation for this issue, I thought it was kind of an odd fit. Wrong! Outside of Martin and McNiven, this was the best looking Spider-Man comic I've seen in forever. Spider-Man doesn't have to have traditional comic book art all the time and this wasn't an issue that relied heavily on people in costumes so Gaydos made perfect sense for this story. It's been a while since I've seen a Gaydos comic, but damn I forgot how great a colorist he is. Every panel on every page of this was just beautiful.

For comics like this one, that deal with the devil was totally worth it.

Story: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10



asm_03.jpgReview by thefourthman

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

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Review by Zero

I like Michael Gaydos' art. I like Spider-Man. Unfortunately they go together like oil and water here and the bland story makes the most of neither of them.

While Peter Parker's relationship troubles have cropped up in the odd issue of ASM I've read over the last couple of year, this was the first issue that really hung on them and I was a little lost. Can't blame the book for that but the fact that it didn't make me want to find out more about the story indicates that it's a boring one and needs sorting out. The Scorpion plot is generic two as a pair of heroes have a misunderstanding and them team up to fight some generic villains. Why bother using Tombstone, The Hood and Bushwaker when nothing they do couldn't have been accomplished by any three nameless characters? It wasn't even funny, and when Spidey and a writer best known for fun books can't crack a smile for me, then something has gone a little bit *very* wrong.

Like I said before, I like Gaydos' art but he doesn't really fit superhero art very well. The skulking around in the shadows parts are easy enough on the eyes but the fight scenes look awkward and posed. Fine art for a crime book or something talky and grim like Alias, but the light moments here look gloomy. Bit of a mismatch here.

I like the writer, I like the artist, and I like the character but the story here doesn't play to the strengths of any of them. Nice cover though.

2

Urrrrgh.

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Review by doombug

As usual I read a different book then some of the group Laughing

Michelle aka Pete's roomate gets herself into a bit of trouble as she goes after one of her clients who is doing something stupid. Meanwhile Peter is at the same location running into Fred Van Lente's scorpion who apparently got a costume change and a new attitude. (I remember the last time we saw her, she aged or something.)

Anyways the issue is a fun mix between in costume and out of costume insanity. Though there is one thing that bothers me...The Hood. I just don't like thuggish hood being wrote at all. I prefer the more cunning scumbag we saw in the bendis books recently and the one jeff parker, dwayne mcduffie and BKV wrote.

Gaydos art is strong here and Michelle looked a lot like Jessica Jones in a few panels. I've honestly e njoyed Fred and Joe's work on the book most lately.

All in all you get a 7.5, not the best story and not the worst.


asm_08.jpgReview by Old Man

What do the following all have in common? A machine made by Hoover, Spider-Man # 626, a vortex, and my attitude.

They all suck.

(And so does Sidney Crosby, a.k.a. Cindy Crysbaby.)

Lente just isn't a good writer. Gaydos is a horrid artist. This whole book is made of fugly. Fugly art, fugly wrtiting.

Traditionally, the Spider-Sense only kicks up when there is an immediate danger. Yet in this story, it kicks up when a 'former' criminal is visiting with Michele at the apartment. A. -- it's unbelievably stupid for any attorney to let any criminal know where they live. Just. Damned. Stupid. B. -- there is no danger here. If the Spider-Sense is going to kick up every time Spider-Man comes within 5 feet of any criminal, it is going to kick up all the time, making it useless.

Late in the story, the Spider-Sense returns after being dampened, and Spider-Man uses it as a guidance system telling him which way to go to get to safety. That's changing the way it works, and making it more like Daredevil's radar.

Yet at a vital point in the story, the Spider-Sense fails to warn Spider-Man that he is about to get attacked. That point is when the female Scorpion stings him and dampens his Spider-Powers.

Cliched and hackneyed are two polite words that come to mind when I think of this book. And I find I hate that I am thinking about this book. I'm not writing any more about it, even though I could go on for a thousand more words about how bad this comic is. I'm not wasting my time.

Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly. Sucked. Fugly.

I hope I never read another comic this bad for the rest of my life.

2

And I'm being kind.

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Review by guitarsmashley

So, I haven't enjoyed Spiderman since right before the Other since I used the Other as an excuse to drop spiderman. Which is why I'm so hesitant to pick up superman but that's for another time. I think this was a one off story but really it felt like a total throw away from page one to last panel of russian nut jobs. I started my heavy comic reading with Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev and have to say that I have since learned to just completely dislike Maleev's art. So why does Maleev matter when this book was clearly drawn by Michael Gaydos??? Because it's same shitty style except I've never liked Gaydos. Gaydos's art is out of place, stagnant and static in all the wrong ways and this issue has zero kinetic energy and doesn't seem to push any story forward. Van Lente's story isn't anything special either. Over all it just seems to an aimless issue that doesn't accomplish anything in the grand scheme of things.

2


asm_04.jpgReview by 48THRiLLS

Damn this book is getting killed. I didn't think it was so bad, I really liked the art... I mean it didn't fit this book at all but it was still nice to look at. The art maybe would have worked better on the Spider-Man noir book but seemed a little too gritty for the 616, that being said I still liked it. The problem with reviewing these Spidey books is that I don't know where it's at since it is shipped thricely. The last one I read was the Rhino book we reviewed and that I thought was excellent so this one seemed mildly disappointing. Van Lente seemed to have a solid grasp on Peter's voice and I like how he used the room mate but the Scorpion character came off a little lame. It was cool to see the Hood, I try to avoid ASM all together so I don't know if he often appears in this book but he seems like the perfect Spider-Man villain. The end confused me a little, are we supposed to know who the Russian woman are that bought the Scorpion suit?

STORY - 7
ART - 7
OVERALL - 7


asm_05.jpgReview by Punchy

Story  - I'm an unabashed fan of Brand New Day Spider-Man, I just think it makes for good Spidey, and I feel that the book has been on a fantastic up-swinging run since about #600, I can only think of 1 or 2 bad issues in the last 6 months, which is pretty decent going. The Gauntlet meta-arc especially has been a great read, the classic Spider-Man villains have been given a new lick of paint, and Peter is really being put through the runner.

This issue is a bit of a breather from the Gauntlet, as the Kraven's are only tangentially involved, and the Scorpion that shows up isn't particularly classic, but it was still a decent issue of ASM, particularly for how it focuses and works with character. One of the few problems I've had with the book has been the character of Michele Gonzales, Peter's roommate, she hasn't really been developed, and has just come across as kind of a crazy bitch, waving a shotgun in Peter Parker's face one minute, falling in love with him the next. But in this issue, Van Lente fleshes her out a bit, makes her less unstable, and more of an actual character. Spider-Man is as much a personal soap opera for Peter Parker as it is about Spider-Man punching people, and it's good to take a break from the brutal gauntlet to develop some supporting cast.

Not that this issue doesn't have punching in it, Peter comes up against some random hoods (employed by The Hood!), as well as Bushwacker, Tombstone and the new Scorpion, a sort of ambiguous anti-hero. I don't know much about this new Scorpion, I read her appearances in Avengers: The Initiative, and that's pretty much it, but she seems interesting, and it seems Spider-Man has put her more towards a hero's path (despite the last page). And I liked how Fred Van Lente wove in disparate bits of Marvel continuity like SPIN tech or the Hood being the new Kingpin, I like seeing the Hood show up outside the Avengers books, it makes the character stronger.

This issue also doesn't skimp on some humour, Van Lente is probably one of the few writer's whose superhero work is actually funny. In Incredible Hercules and on Spider-Man, it actually elicits a chuckle from me, it's good to laugh.

So, this isn't the best issue of Amazing Spider-Man this year, but it's still decent, we take a break from a big story, and finally get around to developing a supporting character, add to that some good jokes, some good continuity work, and we've got a solid chapter in the ongoing tapestry that is Spider-Man. Let's just hope Roger Stern and Lee Weeks can keep up the pace when the Juggernaut comes roaring into town.

Art - When you close your eyes and think "Spider-Man", a style like Michael Gaydos' may not be the first one to spring to mind. But I've always maintained that Spider-Man is the superhero most able to accommodate a variety of art styles, and Gaydos makes it work. I think it helps that this issue isn't about superhero action, but character, and when there is action, Peter is skulking around, and often not in costume. If Spider-Man was Alias, it might be like this issue. But with more ass-fucking.

Best Line - 'Because this looks like a job for ... Anonymous White Guy!'

7/10

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Review by Daringd

FLV (I’m not typing up his full name) has done some really solid work with Spidey. This issue doesn’t hold a candle to his near perfect Sandman story but for a standalone it’s good. The art for me really raised the issue, incredible art I hope Gaydos come back for some more work on Spidey in the future. Overall solid issue just not Rhino level standalone issue quality.

Story 8.0
Art 9.5
Overall 8.7

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Review by Prince of Potter

Eh, it was a solid issue. Surprised by some of the really low scores handed out this week, and the only way I can explain it is that--despite what some people say--they don't like the classic, continuity-neutral, done-in-one story formula anymore. Guess it just seems boring to tell a street-level Spidey tale these days. Story, imo, was solid (some good moments between Peter and Michelle), art was a bit distracting but very well done, and while it wasn't life-changing, I felt there was enough bang for the buck in terms of the amount of story in the issue.
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That gives Amazing Spider-Man #626 a group score of 5.20.  Suck it haters!  You still couldn't get the score under 5. Tongue out

For over a hundred posts of shenanigans, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review. 
Comment or post your own review!
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0331-blackestnight_cover.jpgOld Man has the pick for March 31st and he has selected Blackest Night #8 from DC Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

Blackest Night #8

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and Cover by IVAN REIS, OCLAIR ALBERT and JOE PRADO

The extra-sized conclusion to the most talked-about event in comics is here, and the results will change the course of the DC Universe for years to come. Earth has become the final battleground for life versus death, but how will our heroes fight back against the darkness of sentient space itself? And what does the future hold for Green Lantern, The Flash and the rest of the world's greatest heroes and villains? Find out here as the stage is set for the next epic era of DC Comics!

DC Universe | 40pg. | Color | $3.99 US
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