Back in February 2011 Amazing Spider-Man came out every single week. Not only did this book come out every week — it was consistently good. Marvel Comics recently released a 480-page complete edition housing some excellent stories from that run. Here are my 4 takeaways.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Chameleon returns with a terrifying new mission – and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson squarely in his sights! And as JJJ’s Anti-Spider Squad closes in, Peter Parker gets a brand-new job! Will it bring him closer to the newly returned Mary Jane or push her further away? Then, look out, Spidey – the Black Cat’s back, too, more dangerous than ever! And Raptor seeks revenge against the man he claims killed his family – Ben Reilly, Spider-Man’s clone! Plus Eddie Brock finds a new way to live – as Anti-Venom! Jackpot makes the scene! And Deadpool strikes!
Why does this matter?
This collection houses 10 issues from the Amazing Spider-Man #602 to #611, the entire Anti-Venom: New Ways to Live mini, the three-issue Jackpot mini, as well as a few one-shots that came out at the time. It was a wild time to be a Spider-Man fan since there was so much content coming out every month.
Chameleon was scary as all heck
This collection opens with Fred Van Lente’s three-issue arc utilizing Chameleon. The character has typically been a bit of a silly villain since he’s only really good at swapping faces. Here though he works with overseas terrorists and Van Lente opens the arc with a reminder of all the terrorist attacks that have occurred with fair warning. Cut to Chameleon stealing an innocent man’s face and burning him alive in acid. The story arc is extra exciting thanks to captions that capture the hyper-focused resolve of Chameleon and how he takes over Peter Parker’s life for a short time. If there was ever evidence Chameleon should appear in a major Spider-Man film this is it. The story ends with quite a twist and J.J. Jameson is rendered very well as he plays the part of the mayor. There’s dialogue here that is striking due to Jameson’s ability to be immoral as a politician and yet folks resign over his behavior. Oh, have things changed.
— David Brooke (@Nosocialize) March 31, 2019
It gets hot and heavy with Black Cat
Some things never change and that includes the sex appeal between Spider-Man and Black Cat. The stories collected here took place when Peter was single and even attempting to find dates online, so I suppose that makes it okay for him to literally sleep around with Black Cat. Joe Kelly wrote these issues and does a great job with the dialogue. There’s a lot of sexual tension in their dialogue and you get the sense Peter longs for a real relationship and Black Cat isn’t willing to settle down. It’s a tragic, but sexy combo. They also take on some crimes together and there’s excellent action to behold in these issues.
Classic Parker luck
Peter Parker has the worst luck and it shows with his roommate. It’s a woman that’s a bit of a coworker and one that Chameleon screws up royally early on by sleeping with her. She thinks it’s Peter she’s sleeping with, so when he breaks it to her Chameleon took his face and said he loved her she flips out understandably. This creates a lot of tension in his home life since they’re also roommates.
Anti-Venom vs. Punisher, who ya got?
This collection also houses the Anti-Venom 3 part story by Zeb Wells with pencils by Paulo Siqueira and Chad Hardin. This story takes drug dealers, and those who buy drugs from said dealers, very seriously. Wells does a great job exploring Anti-Venom’s connection to a drug user which gets him in a lick of trouble when he stops Punisher from offing her. This leads to Punisher literally blowing Anti-Venom’s head off (more or less) and pitting them against each other. Wells explores the idea of forgiveness since Eddie Brock wears the Anti-Venom costume and the story has a strong realistic feel.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
It seems Spider-Man can’t avoid clones and that’s true of this collection. It takes up a third of the book as stories focus on Ben Reilly’s past actions and the reemergence of Kaine. The convoluted nature of Kaine and Ben Reilly’s past are tiresome since at this point Peter has been judged for the sins of Ben and then some. Outside of this, there are stories that seem tacked on like the Jackpot 3 part story and a one-shot or two. It’s very clear when reading this a lot of effort was put in to make sure it comes out weekly and at times that rush shows.
Is it good?
Writers like Fred Van Lente, Joe Kelly, and J.M. DeMatteis show why they were called upon to work on the insane idea of a weekly Amazing Spider-Man comic. For the most part, their efforts show incredible skill and ability to write one of the most iconic superheroes ever in a genuine and rewarding way.
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