Review: Amazing Spider-Man #642

Published on September 11th, 2010

Anyone who listens to the weekly Pick Of the Week Podcast here at Comic Impact (which you SHOULD!) will know that certain of us aren’t big fans of what’s been going in Amazing Spider-Man for…a long ass time.

Basically, since the never ending “Brand New Day” story arc all that has been done with Spider-Man is recycling old Spidey stories from the 70’s and 80’s with questionable art by some unknown artist.  I started pounding my head against a wall when I saw an Amazing Spider-Man cover in the 500’s that boasted, “The New and IMPROVED Vulture!”…a boast I’ve read on Spider-Man covers at least a half dozen times before when thumbing through back issues.  There have been a few exceptions, Grim Hunt a couple months ago was spectacular and had fantastic art by Micheal Lark, but for the most part the only good Spider-Man out there is Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis.

Amazing Spider-Man #642 is written by Mark Waid with art by Paul Azaceta and proves to us that as bad as we thought things were with the previous “One Moment In Time” story arc (the song’s STILL stuck in my head, thanks Quesada) things can always get worse.  This issue begins the “Origin Of The Species” story arc which is a lot like the Star Wars prequels or communism: they sound great on paper but the actual execution is just a big ol’ mess.

amazing-shit-cover

The book starts out with the now crippled Doctor Octopus (see Amazing Spider-Man #600 which was actually really good) hiring a bunch of other villains to go out and find something.  Ock claims that this thing will be able to help all of them with their specific problems…like medical cures for characters like Morbius (where the hell has he been?) or upgraded equipment Mysterio, in addition to mountains of cash.

Cut to the obligatory bash Peter Parker crap, where he’s broke because he can’t get a job because he doctored pictures blah, blah, blah.  Plus, his bitchy roommate is now selling his clothes because he can’t make rent.  Wow, there’s a plot device that Marvel hasn’t beaten to a bloody pulp.  So Peter has a date with Carlie Cooper but he’s got no cash!  Wah, wah!  Poooor Peter.  Hey, Marvel…WE FUCKING GET IT!!!!! We’ve been reading this garbage since the beginning of Brand New Day three fucking years ago!  Move the Hell on!

Finally, Lilly Hollister (if you don’t know about who these people are, I’m not going back and reviewing, I just hate Brand New Day too much) busts through the coffee shop where Peter, Harry Osborn, Mary Jane and Carlie are hanging out riding her Goblin/Menace glider.  Lilly ten kinds of pregnant and about to pop Norman Osborn’s hideous mutant of a child into the world.  She’s writhing in pain and being chased by Shocker and Tombstone.  Apparently the “thing” Doc Ock hired everyone to retrieve was Lilly’s baby.  Spider-Man attempts to put a stop to these shenanigans while Harry, MJ and Carlie help deliver the baby, until Doc Ock shows up, pins everyone down and steals the baby.  There’s also a long winded part where Harry and Peter are thinking to themselves (separately recalling the exact same thing) about everything that has happened to Lilly since her creation, which is really difficult to read.  It feels like it was ripped from a 70’s comic when they had to fill in backstory.  Hey Waid, SAVE THAT CRAP FOR THE “PREVIOUSLY” PAGE!  People don’t talk or think like that!  It’s clunky, bad story telling!

Okay, now that my story rant is over, please allow me to barrage you with another avalanche of hate…about this artwork by Paul Azaceta.  I can’t decide if this art is worse than the Siege: Captain America one shot from a few months ago.  I don’t know what the Hell this guy is trying to accomplish but good art is clearly not the goal.  Everyone in the book has these gigantic, overly collagen stuffed lips and the clothes people are wearing literally look like the costumes from Revenge of The Nerds. Ultimately, I can’t say anything more than, “This art is terrible.”

I don’t get it!  Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s flagship titles and they’re not only recycling at best 25 year old stories but they’re partnering those stories with God awful art!  It’s not reserved to the Spidey books either.  Uncanny X-Men has had terrible, rushed art by Whilce Portacio (who’s normally pretty good) lately and Invincible Iron Man has had Salvador Larroca whose art has looked like he’s trying to force a more photo-realistic style that is just not working.  Even the great John Romita Jr.’s work on Avengers has felt a little bit rushed.  What the Hell is going on at Marvel?!?  The best art is coming out of the smaller books like Kev Walker on Thunderbolts, Gabriel Hardman on Atlas or Dustin Weaver on S.H.I.E.L.D.

*SIIIIIIIIGGGHHHHH* I really needed to get that out.  Thanks for listening my insane rantings, Comic Impact readers.  Sorry it was so damn long and so…passionate.  Spider-Man is my favorite character of all time and I miss reading good Spider-Man stories with good art.  Just do me a favor and don’t pick up Amazing Spider-Man until next month when Humberto Ramos starts drawing it and making the book awesome again.

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImpact.com