Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Man #571

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Dan Slot
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson
Marvel Comics
"New Ways to Die" (part 4)

Mystery solved, but not the one you think. The Menaceís identity is still unknown. The Chinese sweatshop workers are still on the run. Martin Liís positive/negative powers are yet to be explained. But Norman Osborn has found the connection between Peter Parkerís photographs and Spider-Man. Itís only a matter of time (or another two issues) before Osborn will squish our friendly, though suspected of murder, neighborhood Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #571 picks up from last issue, opening with the battle between our hero and the Anti-Venom. Since Martin Liís touch, Eddie Brock has transformed into a purveyor of purification, nearly killing the Venom symbiote, and intending to clean the radiation from Spider-Manís blood. The wall crawler gets away thanks to the arrival of the Thunderbolts, but not before Osborn discovers that the rogue heroís powers are affected by the Anti-Venomís presence. Yet, Osborn has his hands full as the Menace threatens him to leave the city. The first and the latest Goblin engage in a brawl that leaves Osborn beaten but victorious.

So far Slott has paced the overall narrative of this arc with a large surprise at the conclusion of every issue, weaving each plot threads into a major culmination and then altercation. At the end of the first issue, Peter finds Osborn in his apartment with the Thunderbolts. The next issue opens with their confrontation, which skirts certain expectations such as Osborn not knowing Peter and Spider-Man are one and the same. That issue ends with the transformation of Brock into Anti-Venom, which then is explored in the third issue with Anti-Venom, Venom, and Spider-Man deciding who should be fighting whom. Again, Slott plays with our expectations of this three-way fight, when suddenly Anti-Venom turns on Spider-Man not out of vengeance or hate, but the desire to cure him of symbiote residue and his irradiated blood. Issue 3 concludes with another plot thread of Osborn meeting the Menace.

The altercation between these characters works succinctly to move the plot forward while providing an interesting analysis of both villains. Firstly, we discover the Menace is planning a major political scheme that is being hindered by Osborn presence in the city. He isnít supposed to catch Spider-Man for mayoral candidate Randall Crowne. Yet, considering the Menaceís attack on Crowneís opponent Hollister, it isnít clear whom heís working for. While the Menace seeks political power, Osborn reveals his distaste for such tawdry goals. All he wants is Spider-Man. The (presumably) young villain wants control while the old villain wants glory. The addition of this texture gives the story arc more weight without being obvious or overdone.

As for Romita Jr.ís art, he brings both grit and sensitivity to the page. The battle between Spider-Man and Anti-Venom is brutal as Brock smashes Parker to the ground. The pavement crumbles beneath Spider-Manís body as the large overpowering force pins him down. The battle isnít too stylistic or hyperbolic, but on a level of street violence that is immediately realistic. Conversely, Romita Jr. tactfully demonstrates Peterís love for his Aunt May, who tries to clean up the F.E.A.S.T. after the bout. They look into each otherís eyes and from Peterís face you can read his loving appreciation for this woman with a big heart.

Amazing Spider-Man ďNew Ways to DieĒ is well-crafted multi-thread yarn that continues to unravel the unexpected.

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