Ever since Nick Spencer took over The Amazing Spider-Man, the book has taken a closer look at smaller stories. There is a long-running drama involving new villain Kindred, but most of these tales are self-contained one-shot or two-part stories. The Amazing Spider-Man: Threats & Menaces, out this week, is a perfect example of that. It’s easy for new readers to pick it up and understand the relative situation of each story, albeit there’s some slow build storytelling going on in the background. These are the three big reasons why it stands alone.
#1. It opens with a great one-shot tale
The very first story here is The Amazing Spider-Man #37, which features a fun time travel tale. Appropriately titled “It’s Time For a Change,” this issue opens with Spider-Man lamenting about how he can’t save everybody, and most of the time he’s cleaning up a mess after it’s too late. Time is on his mind too, because he has so little of it with Mary Jane who is still in Hollywood filming a new movie. Recently, Spider-Man acquired the ability to see possible future realities and it was quite handy for defeating Dr. Doom, but what if he used this ability in his everyday web-slinging crime fighting? That’s the idea proposed and the meat of the story at work here.
It’s a good issue thanks in part because it juggles so many plots well. The cliffhanger should have every Spider-Man fan on the planet curious where Spencer goes from here. It’s a big deal and will likely affect how we view Spider-Man’s very origin!
The art is great too. Ottley continues to show he was born to draw Spider-Man, and Nathan Fairbairn’s colors give it all the bright and hopeful pop the series deserves. There are some great sight gags and the personality of the character always seems to be on point.
#2. J.J. Jameson as a podcast host
Weaved into this collection is Jameson’s new job as a podcaster. It is introduced in the first issue and then gets taken up a notch later on when Jameson tries to prove Spider-Man is innocent. This leads to Spider-Man actually doing an interview for Jameson’s show which puts a hyper-focus on the complicated relationship between the two characters. Jameson as a Spider-Man ally is still relatively new and Spencer capitalizes on that in this section of the collection. It’s a clever subplot thanks to the handling of a modern entertainment experience like podcasting.
#3. Casino…of death!
Spencer is quite good at seeding each story. He slowly unveils a casino in the sky run by supervillains and has it come crashing into Jameson’s podcast midway through this book. The concept of the casino is quite smart, even connecting to other Marvel stories via betting on superhero fights, and it puts a spin on a Spider-Man fight. In a key scene taking place during Jameson and Spider-Man’s podcast interview, Chance comes crashing in as a bet has been placed to steal Spider-Man’s web shooter. It creates a bit of confusion for Spider-Man who notices Chance isn’t giving it his all. It also has a nice touch as a commentary of the super-rich abusing others for their entertainment.
I wasn’t a fan of every story in this collection. The book ends on a two-part tale involving a Boomerang and Spider-Man team-up that’s a silly throwaway sort of tale. The usually relatable Spider-Man stories of him fighting street-level thugs is thrown out the window a bit with a giant monster.
If you’re a longtime reader of this series, you’re going to feel frustrated with all the teasing and hints to future stories too. Kindred is something I’m bored of at this point, but this series continues to prepare the reader for upcoming tales so often it’s almost like you’re getting in-story commercials. This book sets up a few stories and capitalizes them within these pages, but other stories are hinted at that–like the return of Sin-Eater and Overdrive–that weren’t unveiled until recently.
I liked The Amazing Spider-Man: Threats & Menaces overall thanks to its accessibility. It weaves in a lot of subplots that won’t be touched upon in a while, but there’s enough here to enjoy if you’re looking for some zany Spidey stories.
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