Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Man #575

Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Joe Kelly
Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend (i), Chris Bachalo & Antonio Fabela (c)
Marvel Comics
"Family Ties"

Since the start of "Brand New Day" nearly one year ago Amazing Spider-Man #575 is the first full issue by an author not part of Spidey’s braintrust. Kelly's sensibilities as a storyteller and his view of Spider-Man are recognizably different from Gale, Guggenheim, Slott, and…wait -- Where's Wells?

Take a look at the credits page of this issue and you'll notice that the name of Marvel writer Zeb Wells is missing. Although his name does appear as a braintrust member in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, this is the first time his name is inexplicably absent. The last we saw of Wells’ work was in Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #1, where he wrote a short story about Harry Osborn recognizing Peter Parker to be his true friend.

Incidentally, that was also Joe Kelly’s first issue of Amazing Spider-Man “Brand New Day.” In that issue, Kelly and Bachalo reveal the bloody and pathetic story of Hammerhead, a Russian immigrant who forsook his heritage to become a mobster. After killing his abusive father in order to be “made” the petty thug was beaten to death by a rival family and left for dead. The demented surgeon Jonas Harrow horrifically reconstructed his skull. Unable to reassemble the shards of his memory, he absorbed the persona of the cinematic gangster to become Hammerhead! But that '40s jibing thug is enhanced with a solid adamantium skeleton and made into the strong arm of his new benefactor -- Mister Negative.

Yet, Kelly doesn’t open this issue with his main plot. Instead, we follow Spidey in an airborne scuffle with glider-flying clowns out to snatch a cyborg-mouse from a revolting homeless woman hanging around the wall-crawler’s neck. Kelly’s Spider-Man is offensive, politically incorrect and hysterically funny. Case in point, his profile of Greta the homeless woman. The frank honesty of that internal monologue, as well as Spidey’s overindulgent “Scared Straight” speech later on, is liberating. There isn’t the heaviness of baggage, be it from the overall revamp of the series or maintenance of ongoing plot threads in the periphery. Kelly focuses on the main character’s view of what’s going on around rather than piling the events on top of him.

Similarly, Bachalo’s treatment of Spider-Man is hyperactive and emotive. Greta stretches her jaw beyond the capacity of any living human to let out a retort, revealing a set of teeth and gums that would make a dentist cry. Bachalo narrows the white of Spidey’s eyes and maintains the thick black rim around them to make the wallcrawler’s repellent disgust of Greta’s breath evident. Although, his figures tend to appear off model from panel to panel, Bachalo’s visual storytelling of jokes and action is much improved from his difficult to follow art in “Messiah Complex.”

Amazing Spider-Man #575 is a great issue for new readers looking for a hardy laugh from Ol’Webhead.

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