Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #549

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Peter Parker is a single bachelor again, Harry Osborn is his best friend, and has introduced Peter to his new girlfriend Lily, and her best friend Carlie. As Peter works on finding a new apartment, J. Jonah Jameson has a heart-attack after an argument with Peter, and his wife sells off his shares in the Daily Bugle to his rival Dexter Bennett. Bennett renames the Bugle "The DB!". Peter is back to being Spider-Man after months of inactivity, and is now wanted in connection with a possible string of homicides due to a spider-tracer being found on the victim.

In Detail...

"Who's That Girl?!?"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #549
Apr 2008 : SMURF 549.500 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Marc Guggenheim
Pencils:  Salvador Larroca
Inker:  Salvador Larroca
Cover Art:  Salvador Larroca
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Brand New Day #2
Articles: Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Menace (1st)

At the Port Authority Marine Terminal in Brooklyn, some criminals are attacked suddenly by a very fast, territorial, dangerous new villain who laughs and rides a glider.

The next morning, at the former Daily Bugle building (now the DB! building), two workers work on taking down the old letters atop the building, when they hear laughing, and suddenly one of the men is knocked off of his rig and plummets towards the ground below. Spider-Man, who's swinging by, rescues the falling worker, and has his webbing anchor him to the scaffold which is soon nearly knocked over as the U in the big letters above comes careening towards Spider-Man. Spider-Man drops to the ground and uses his webbing to stop the falling letter and save his life and the others on the ground.

Moments later, Peter gets into the DB!'s offices, late, and runs into a reporter packing up his things, as he's just been fired. The reporter tells Peter about the spider-tracer story he had pitched to the new editor, but had then been fired. As Peter ruminates on what the spider-tracer murder victim means to him, he gets to the staff meeting led by Dexter Bennett. Bennett praises Peter for being someone who's constantly hustling, and preaches work ethic to his employees.

Bennett briefs the staffers on information surrounding the new menace terrorizing the city, which looks similar to a goblin-design. Peter tells Bennett that he got some pictures of Spider-Man but is cut off as Bennett is more interested in pictures of the newest menace to bedevil New York, and offers $10,000 to the first person to get him a photograph of the new villain.

Spider-Man leaps across the city, musing about how he doesn't have the money to finance a new batch of webbing, and that now one of his spider-tracers was found in a corpse. He hears a commotion from down below and drops in on a criminal fighting a woman, and he tosses the woman at Spider-Man sending the two into garbage cans. The woman is none other than New York's newest registered superhero, JACKPOT.

As the criminal runs into the subway system to try and escape, Spider-Man follows him and manages to get on the subway car before the criminal opens fire and Spider-Man must evade the bullets and ends up sitting on the tracks. Jackpot catches up to him, and the two have a brief argument over Spider-Man's intervening in the situation with the criminal. Jackpot tells Spider-Man that she was taking on the criminal because of rumors he knew where the "Gray Goblin" is hiding out. Spider-Man objects to her using the Goblin term for the new villain, and Jackpot claims the new villain as her own arch-enemy. As a rushing subway car approaches, Spider-Man whisks the two of them from harm's way, and they take the subway to Queens together. Spider-Man asks Jackpot if her initials are M.J., to which she mocks him about secret idenitites before refusing to tell him anything.

Later, at Coney Island, Peter is at the batting cages with Harry, Lily and Carlie, as he asks them about Mary Jane, and whether or not she's been around recently. Harry mentions trying to find her, and look for her trail, when Peter comes up with an idea, on how to cash in on the 10 Grand that Bennett is offering for the first pictures of the new super-villain on the scene.

Peter switches to Spider-Man and gets to the top of the DB! building, and uses some specialized goggles to see if he can pick up an exhaust trail similar to the Green Goblin's. Even with no web-shooters, Peter follows the trail and senses someone coming around the corner and lays into them. However, he has accidentally punched JACKPOT, and the two briefly discuss why they're there, and what they know about the new menace. As they're there, the two receive company, as a voice off-panel tells Spider-Man that he has broken the rules of the Superhuman Registration Act, and must identify himself immediately or be arrested.

In General...

Although not quite having the snappy patter of Dan Slott's first arc on Amazing Spider-Man, Guggenheim does bring in a fair dose of humor, a variety of character interactions, a new villain, and fleshes out Jackpot a wee bit. Considering how much development this book USED to give to these various different concepts, that's really saying something.

Guggenheim makes sure that he captures Spider-Man's typical banter, and he's in true form in this issue. Whether its singing his own theme song, or having an odd superhero 101 conversation with Jackpot, he really manages to hit all the right notes. He develops the new boss of the DB!, Dexter Bennett, who seems like an interesting cross between certain aspects of J. Jonah Jameson, and yet tempered through a more understanding filter. He's not used stereotypically, which is actually a step that I appreciate, they're actually taking their time at writing the character well and making the reader connect with him.

The use of Peter's social circle, right now consisting of Carlie, Harry and Lily is actually quite well done, with the four meeting up for some batting cage fun at Coney Island, and then Peter ducking out when he comes up with a plan for cashing in on Bennett's challenge. It really reads like classic Peter Parker.

The main storyline here is in Jackpot's team-up with Spider-Man as they try to locate a new villain who looks quite like the Goblins that Spider-Man is used to tangling with. I actually really liked the team-up banter, and thought it reminded me somewhat of Spider-Man's old interactions with Black Cat (although I really wonder why she hasn't already been reintroduced here, in this book, for that matter).

The artwork by Salvador Larroca is pretty enjoyable, although there are a number of places where it seemed way too heavily inked/colored. The pencils need to breath a little more than they were allowed to here, and it seemed to constrain the artwork much more than I am accustomed to seeing with Larroca's artwork, and it really seemed like a hinderence here. Hopefully it'll be touched up and lightened up in future issues.

Overall Rating...

Honestly, the script read like a 4 web book, but the art's problems with over-inking and coloring had to drag the score down just a wee bit. Its still a pretty enjoyable comic, it is very well written, and the artwork is pretty good although as noted there are some particular problems that I had with it in particular.