MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER reviews AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647, and bids a loving farewell to BRAND NEW DAY!!!!

SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647

BRAND NEW DAY, CONCLUSION

STORY: The Web-Heads… Fred Van Lente, Zeb Wells, Bob Gale, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Marc Guggenheim, Dan Slott.

ART: Max Fiumara, Michael Del Mundo, Karl Kesel, JM Ken Niimura, Paul Azaceta, Graham Nolan, Adam Archer.

REVIEW: Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Hola, Arachno-Philes! ‘Tis I, Poptards’ resident Spider-Man scholar and local indie horror icon MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER with a very special installment of SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP!!!!

Yes, friends, the day is finally upon us. We all knew it would come someday, but still, it feels too soon. This is it, the END of Spider-Man’s BRAND NEW DAY. The END of The Web-Heads’ run as the creative team. The END of ASM 3 times a month. NOOOOOO!!!!

OK, keep it together, Mark. KEEP IT TOGETHER! I promised myself I wouldn’t get all emotional here, but dammit, I LOVED Brand New Day! I LOVED the Web-Heads! And I really LOVED getting my favorite comic 3 times a month. But, chin up, Spider-Fans! We’re still in BND continuity. ONE of the Web-Heads, DAN SLOTT, will be the regular writer of the book, and he always delivers the goods. And we’ll still be getting ASM TWICE a month. So, there’s still plenty to be happy about. It’s not like they’re putting JMS back on the title, or anything.

Now, before I review the final issue of the Web-Heads’ historic 102-issue, 34 month run, let’s do a brief recap of the event that saved our favorite non-mutant super-hero from the depths of (ugh) “mature” story-telling and no classic villains for so many years.

BND has seen many highs, and, well, maybe a few lows. But for someone who’s followed Spidey’s adventures faithfully since childhood, this has been probably the single most awesome comic event of my entire life. We saw AT LEAST 3 instant classic Spidey stories (NEW WAYS TO DIE, SHED, and GRIM HUNT), the long-awaited return of several classic villains, the introductions of several NEW villains that I actually LIKE (Most notably PAPER DOLL and SCREWBALL), new supporting characters that actually make things more interesting, the return of legendary Spidey scribe ROGER STERN, the return of BEN REILLY, Peter Parker being blackballed as a photographer, the return of THE SPOT, the destruction of the DAILY BUGLE Building, the resurrection of KRAVEN THE HUNTER, the death of MATTIE FRANKLIN, the death of MADAME WEBB, The Lizard devouring BILLY CONNORS (One of the most shocking comic moments in recent memory), VENOM vs. ANTI VENOM, SPIDEY vs. THE ORIGINAL GREEN GOBLIN, and SO MUCH MORE!!!!

My 3 favorite super-villains of all time came back with a vengeance! QUENTIN BECK, the original MYSTERIO, back from the dead! YES!!!! THE RHINO returned, and is totally badass!!!! No more getting beaten in 1 page in stories he otherwise has nothing to do with anymore! And THE LIZARD!!!! Hooo, boy! Did I mention that he ATE BILLY CONNORS????

SO many GREAT memories from this run. So much action, so many laughs, so many awesome characters. I’d been in a funk regarding ASM for SOOOO long, and this run has given me EVERYTHING I was dreaming of during those dark days of Spidey Suckage. THANK YOU, Web-Heads! Seriously. It’s such a wonderful feeling to have fun Spider-Man stories again, and I am forever grateful. Again, THANK YOU!!!!

Now… onto the actual review. In this special super-sized issue, the Web-Heads offer us no less than SIX Spidey stories!!!! Here’s a brief rundown of each…

ANOTHER DOOR, by FRED VAN LENTE and MAX FIUMARA. Harry Osborn has a farewell costume party before he goes into hiding. You see, he’s got this new baby that Daddy Norman is after. So he plans on laying low for a while to make sure his dads’ goons don’t get their dirty hands on the kid. Peter’s old roomie VIN GONZALEZ, fresh outta prison, is on the guest list, which makes CARLIE COOPER decline her invitation, as she’s responsible for putting him away.

There’s lots of great comedy in this story, with villain OVERDRIVE turning a stolen limo into the SPIDER-MOBILE to run down Spidey, Harry’s baby dressed as Doc Ock for the Halloween/Farewell party, Peter dressed as JJJ, and this exchange that had me cracking up… COP: “I heard they got an entire filing room dedicated to HIS citations alone!” OVERDRIVE: “I am legend”.

Vin manages to make amends with Carlie, so she does show at the shindig, after all (Fooling Peter for a moment, dressed as THE BLACK CAT). But Vin isn’t all smiles und sunshine. Now he’s sporting a GREEN GOBLIN tattoo, and actually THREATENS Harry!!!! WHA???? Then MJ shows up as JACKPOT, and basically tells Pete to go after Carlie before she gives up on him forever.

The only issue I have with this story is that Peter makes much of the fact that Overdrive has eluded him twice before, and now, for the first time, he’s captured him. But, it was within the very last story arc, ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES, that Overdrive was one of the many villains after the bounty placed on the baby’s head by Doc Ock. And Spider-Man rolled a webbed-up ball of villains into police headquarters, including THE SPOT, DIABLO, and OVERDRIVE. This was like, two issues ago. Short-term memory loss, Web-Heads? Also, Overdrive makes mention of the fact that MR. NEGATIVE is still trying to kill him, but during that opening scene of ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES, when Ock has all the villains gathered into one room, Negative and Overdrive are both seen, peacefully sharing the same space. They should’ve just left Overdrive out of ORIGIN. He didn’t say anything or do anything but get beaten (unseen), and tossed into police HQ. They could’ve put ANYONE in his place for the 2 quick glimpses we had of him, then we wouldn’t have this continuity issue in this story. Where’s my NO-PRIZE, Marvel????

STORY: A. Definitely a few interesting plot developments here, that will surely be explored further in BIG TIME.

ART: B-. The art during the Overdrive confrontation is nice (As well as the 1st look at MJ as Jackpot), but a lot of his faces are too pointy or angular for me.

HONOR THY FATHER, by ZEB WELLS and MICHAEL DEL MUNDO. This is the epilogue to the lead-in story. Vin leaves the party, and encounters Harry on the street. I don’t wanna give away too much here, but this was my favorite moment of the entire issue. LOVED it! My only question is, “Where is the baby during all of this?” But, really. A minor quibble. This scene is badass. And the last panel is amazing, both the image and the parting line. I won’t spoil it for you. Awesomeness.

STORY: A+.

ART: A.

STAND OFF, by BOB GALE and KARL KESEL. And next, to offset the dark tone of the last story, is this lighthearted affair, played entirely for laughs. Spidey stops to clean up a mess that is causing a traffic jam, and is stymied by red tape put up my MAYOR JAMESON, prohibiting anyone but city employees to handle these situations. Spidey trades zingers with the union workers at the scene, looking to collect overtime pay, but when one of the people stuck in the jam turns out to be a woman in labor, Spidey does what he can do to make all sides happy. Then JJJ shows up and gets involved in a predicament where he has to lift his own order, so that a certain web-slinging hero can rescue him.

STORY: B-. Nothing wrong with this one. It was as funny as its setup would allow, but there’s no real gravity to anything that happens here, as opposed to the stories the precede it. It doesn’t serve to advance any plot points, but it doesn’t pretend to, really. Breezy fun, nothing else.

ART: B-. Nothing awful, nothing spectacular.

NORAH’S LAST NIGHT IN NYC, by JOE KELLY and JM KEN NIIMURA. WOW!!!! The creative team from I KILL GIANTS, reunited! That’s awesome in and of itself, but how’s the STORY???? Well, while this is another one that’s played mostly for laughs, it has more significance than the last story. NORAH WINTERS, the plucky young reporter from FRONT LINE, is about to leave NYC. She says she’s just fed up with “subway rate hikes for less service, public school programs corporatized to facilitate easier tweener brainwashing, bedbugs, lizard men in the sewers,” and other urban annoyances. And while she says it’s merely a case of “EPMS (Everything Pretty Much Sucks)”, the ever-observant Peter Parker wonders if there isn’t more to this sudden urge to get outta Dodge.

So he suits up as Spidey, and shows Norah an unforgettable night on the town, in an effort to get her to reconsider. The story is short and sweet, with an emphasis on SWEET. Really, it’s a cute story, in both the artwork and the feeling behind Peter’s motivation. Great comedy, too… SPIDEY: “Since I’m a beloved icon of justice and all…” NORAH: “People hate you.” SPIDEY: “I know. I lie to myself to get through.”

Kelly writes sassy young women well, as evidenced by the aforementioned I KILL GIANTS, so he’s a natural fit for Norah. Not sure if Spidey would actually hold up a villain so a civilian could slug him, but it was funny, and it didn’t bother me. This was a charming little story, and I liked it a lot.

STORY: A.

ART: A.

AMERICAN HERO, by MARC GUGGENHEIM and GRAHAM NOLAN. This is a FLASH THOMPSON story. And, I’m not gonna lie to you here… Flash Thompson kinda bores me. There. I said it. I don’t really care about him. I don’t really mind him as a peripheral character. His level of involvement in the CHAMELEON story RED-HEADED STRANGER was fine, but other than that, he didn’t really add much to BND. He was present, but he was just kinda… there. They’ve done interesting things with him in the past, and they might have some cool stuff in store for him in the future, but the way things stand now, I can do without him most of the time.

This story? It’s a well-written dialogue between Flash and Spidey, but it really offers no new insight into the characters. Flash admires Spidey, and Spidey admires Flash for his service to the country. And that’s all well and good, but it just felt unnecessary to me, and since the focus isn’t on comedy here, I can’t even give it a pass for making me chuckle.

STORY: C.

ART: B-.

YOU AGAIN, by FRED VAN LENTE, DAN SLOTT, and ADAM ARCHER. Now here’s another one that’s all comedy, and while it has no repercussions that will reverberate through BIG TIME, it was irresistibly entertaining. It’s basically a quick summary of BND seen through the eyes of someone who was TRYING to be involved, but, for whatever reasons, just kept missing all the big stuff.

Her scheme is to get close to Pete, then wiggle her way into Harry’s life, and then, to somehow get her hands on some of Norman’s money. She was outside the club that Peter was ejected from for taking paparazzi pics while DEXTER BENNETT was running “The DB!” She stopped by MARTIN LI’s FEAST center, where she tried to get some info from EDDIE BROCK, JJJ’s campaign HQ. Her dog gets eaten by VENOM. She tries to catch the bouquet at Aunt May’s wedding. She runs into Chameleon while he was posing as Peter. Then she finally gets to meet Harry at the end, while at his farewell party, and learns that he’s leaving town and done with dating. All good stuff.

STORY: A.

ART: B.

In summary, a fine send-off to BND, which was this Spider-Fan’s dream come true. If Slott continues with this level of action and fun, then I’ll at least have that much to look forward to twice a month.

And THAT is THE WORD, so sayeth THE MASTER!!!!

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(MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER is the resident Poptards Spider-Man nut, and the author of SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP right here on this site! Also, true to his name, he is the writer/director of the locally made films DAISY DERKINS, DOGSITTER OF THE DAMNED!, EVIL BREW, and THE HALF-LIFE HORROR FROM HELL or: IRRADIATED SATAN ROCKS THE WORLD!)

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