SPIDEY’s WEEKLY WEB-UP! Mark reviews AMERICAN SON #1!

SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN presents AMERICAN SON #1 (of 4)

STORY: Brian Reed

ART: Phillipe Briones

REVIEW: Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Hola, Arachno-philes! More filming today for the MASTER, as we’re shooting some additional footage today for my film EVIL BREW, but until then, let’s take a moment for another WEB-UP, shall we? There’s no new AMAZING this week, so we have to wait a whole week for the conclusion of SHED, the LIZARD story that’s currently going on in ASM. The end of SHED will also mark the end of THE GAUNTLET, but that’s another story, entirely.

AMERICAN SON is the third installment of the ASM PRESENTS mini-series, following ANTI-VENOM and JACKPOT. This story follows HARRY OSBORN, and the troubles that arise when someone (Maybe Harry) starts donning the American Son armor suit created for Harry by his father, NORMAN. When Norman was in charge of the AVENGERS, he created a super-hero guise for Harry, and now that Norman’s locked up in the Raft, the American Son suit is in storage. That is, until a mysterious figure buys it from another shady fellow.

Harry’s life is quite a mess these days. His business, The Coffee Bean, is always struggling to keep its head above water. His dad is imprisoned in the Raft. The press hounds him constantly. His ex-girlfriend was revealed to be the super-villain known as MENACE, and is now on the run, pregnant with his child. Or maybe’s it’s Norman’s child? Either way, not good. Harry’s popping pills more and more frequently. And now this American Son business.

And why is that a problem? After all, everyone loves a super-hero. And American Son has been successfully thwarting crimes across the city. But an FBI agent isn’t so happy about all of this, as a monster recently destroyed by American Son turned out to be his former partner, transformed by Norman Osborn. But, how do they know it’s Harry? ANYONE could be wearing the American Son suit, right?

Wrong. As we learned in The American Son story arc in AMAZING earlier this year, Norman designed the American Son armor to only respond to someone with Osborn DNA. And Harry’s an only child. Isn’t he?

And that’s basically the first issue. It’s really all just set-up, as you’d expect from a first issue. And yes, Spider-Man does make an appearance, so you WILL get your weekly Spider-fix here, despite the lack of a new AMAZING. And, you could pick up the new AVENGERS #1, which also features Spidey. Not much action or comedy in this ish, but does it make you curious enough to see what’s gonna happen in the next installment, especially after the shocking cliffhanger.

Harry’s been a big player in Spidey’s world since BRAND NEW DAY shook up the ASM status quo, and it’s fitting that he gets center stage for his own mini series. There’s just so much going on in his life, and a lot of it is negative (No, not MR. NEGATIVE, wisenheimer). I was just as skeptical as anyone when Harry reemerged in BND. He had a spectacularly classic and memorable death years ago, and I hate it when they bring characters back after iconic moments like that.

I felt the same way about Norman. I was impressed that they let him stay dead for so long, and I was pissed when they brought him back. It wasn’t until Mark Millar’s phenomenal Spidey epic DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN (From the now-defunct Marvel Knights Spider-Man title), that I was glad they brought Norman back. Warren Ellis made me REALLY glad he was back, during his stellar THUNDERBOLTS run. Now Norman’s one of my favorite characters again.

Harry, somewhat less so, but he’s an important part of Spider-Man’s life. Peter Parker NEEDS a buddy. It makes for more story possibilities when the hero has a best friend, and it’s better to have a friend with a rich history in comics, rather than just introducing some new guy to be Peter’s best bud in BND. So, it’s taken a little time, but now I’m glad Harry’s around.

STORY: B

ART: B-

There’s a back-up story in this issue, as well, entitled BARGAIN DONUTS, by JOE CARAMANGA, art by TODD NAUCK. This story takes place before the fall of Norman Osborn. Harry’s Coffee Bean is in debt, and the coffee company he buys from sends some douchebag to harass him into coming up with the money. And a new franchise, Bargain Donuts, opens up across the street, threatening to take what little business he has away from him.

Harry turns to Pete for help. They decide to take the fight to Bargain Donuts, and win the coffee war. Pete gets BETTY BRANT to plug the Coffee Bean on her blog site, and NORAH WINTERS from Frontline to write an article about it (Pity they ran an ad for Bargain Donuts directly beneath the article).
When Harry suggests a web marketing strategy, Pete dons the Spidey duds and goes after arch villain SCREWBALL. Screwball, if you didn’t know, is a villain who wears a helmet with a mini video camera attached so she can stream her exploits directly to her web site, where people pay to subscribe. She also taped her boobs down once and posed as Spider-Man during BRAND NEW DAY. She’s probably the most frequently used BND villain (After MR. NEGATIVE, of course), and that’s cool with me. I love Screwball. I can relate to her in a way. “I’m not evil”, she points out. “I’m an artist!” Tell ‘em, Screwball!

So after a brief tussle with Screwball, Spidey gets her helmet and starts plugging the Coffee Bean to her online audience. “Are you making a COMMERCIAL?!” she screams, as she attacks Spidey. But their fight is interrupted by MJ, who goes into the Bean, with an entourage and paparazzi in tow, and makes the place a hotspot.
It’s a fun, light-hearted story with a nice, happy ending that is a complete contrast to the story that precedes it in the same issue.

STORY: A

ART: B- (A bit better than Nauck’s usual work)

Tune in next week, when I cover the finale to SHED! And THAT is the WORD, so sayeth the MASTER!!!!!

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1 Comment to “SPIDEY’s WEEKLY WEB-UP! Mark reviews AMERICAN SON #1!”

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