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Amazing Spider-Man #567

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By: David Wallace

Marc Guggenheim
Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i), Chris Chuckry (colours)
Marvel Comics
"Kraven's First Hunt: Part 3"

This week, I came to the realisation that the only reason I'm still buying Amazing Spider-Man is out of habit, and out of affection for the character. I came to this realisation when I was storing my weekly comics purchases away after reading them, and it dawned on me that I hadn't actually read this week's issue: I had bought it, taken it home, and put it straight into storage with the rest of my week's purchases (the rest of which I had read). I had completely forgotten to even crack open the cover and read it - and that made me realise how little I'm invested in the stories being told in Amazing Spider-Man these days.

I feel slightly guilty about this because the latest story hasn't been that bad. In fact, along with Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo's story about the Mayan deity that attacked Spidey in a freak snowstorm, this has been one of the better "Brand New Day" arcs so far. It's a fairly simple story about a new, female villain in the mould of Kraven the Hunter, who has been tracking Spidey down - but mistakenly comes to the conclusion that his secret identity is that of Peter Parker's roommate, police officer Vin Gonzales. After she kidnaps Gonzales, it's up to Peter to rescue him (whilst simultaneously dealing with the threat of Vermin, who lives near her sewer hideout), which he does whilst dressed in the costume of his friend, Daredevil. It's quite a fun premise that manages to combine some light touches with a serious threat to both of Peter's identities, at the same time evoking elements of the classic "Kraven's Last Hunt" storyline.

The art has been pretty good, too. Again, there's nothing that stands out as particularly special, but penciller Phil Jimenez does a good job in capturing Spidey's personality through his body language, and has some fun with his depiction of Peter Parker in a Daredevil outfit, twisting Matt Murdock's costume into unfamiliar spidery poses. It's clearly-defined, consistent stuff, with storytelling that is never unclear or difficult to follow.

I had a couple of problems with the story - notably with the identity of this new Hunter, which is revealed at the issue's end. Not only is it a predictable outcome, but it's also one which doesn't make a huge amount of chronological sense, given the timeline with which we're presented at the issue's end (which implies that the new hunter is no more than 13 years old - which seems too young to me). However, that didn't detract too much from the story.

So what's stopping me from connecting with it?

Without wishing to sound like I'm repeating the same criticisms that internet messageboard posters and bloggers have reiterated ever since last December, I'm just finding it too difficult to accept the "Brand New Day" Spider-Man as the same character that I've been reading about for years. It doesn't help that there are frequent references back to old Spider-Man stories from the days in which he was married (such as the allusions to "Kraven's Last Hunt" in this story), appearances from characters like Harry Osborn, who died years ago (and who has so far received no explanation for his resurrection), or scenes that deal with characters like Aunt May and Mary Jane, who have been magically purged of their knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity. All of these elements mean that I'm constantly reminded of the changes in Spider-Man continuity that came with "One More Day," a story that has been so damaging to the character that it has not only cast its shadow over all of the previous stories that featured a married Peter Parker, but which continues to heavily inform the stories that have followed it, too.

I don't consider myself to be a continuity purist who cares a great deal about absolute consistency, but the changes wrought by "One More Day" haven't just modified Spider-Man's past - they've also changed the entire web of relationships that surrounds the modern-day Spidey. As a result, this doesn't feel like the same character that I was reading about a year ago. Ordinarily, that wouldn't matter too much to me if I was still enjoying the stories - but the changes made by Marvel have made me realise that I was more attached to the character as I knew him best than I was to the stories that are now being told with the new, modified version of him. It's taken a while for me to come to this realisation, but now that I've made that mental distinction, I've realised that I can get a lot more pleasure out of the collected editions of old, pre-OMD Spidey than I can out of the regular, thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man - because he simply doesn't feel like "my" Spidey any more.

I want to enjoy this book, but now that it's becoming apparent that the new status quo is here to stay, I'm finding it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for the book - and for the character. Unfortunately, this realisation has come the week before the "New Ways To Die" storyline starts - which I had been particularly looking forward to, because it will feature the return of artist John Romita Jr. to the title. So I might just hang in there for a couple more months and see whether it can reignite my interest in the book and in the character again.

If it sounds like I'm trying to keep thinking of reasons to justify purchasing the book, then maybe I am. Amazing Spider-Man is the first title that I started collecting when I got back into comics, and it's the only book that I've followed on a consistent basis for that long, so it's going to be pretty hard to break the habit. But I feel like I'm coming close.



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