Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #550

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

The Daily Bugle has a new name and a new boss. Now its The DB! and is run by Dexter Bennett. Peter is trying to take a picture of a new menace plaguing New York, to cash in on a $10,000 prize that Bennett has issued a challenge for. Spider-Man has run into Jackpot while trying to track down the new villain, and suddenly Spider-Man is told to stand down for violation of the SHRA...

In Detail...

"The Menace of... MENACE!!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #550
Apr 2008 : SMURF 550.500 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Marc Guggenheim
Pencils:  Salvador Larroca
Inker:  Salvador Larroca
Cover Art:  Salvador Larroca
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Articles: Menace, Crowne, Randall (1st)

The Blue Shield, a registered hero, tells Spider-Man to stand down for violation of the SHRA. Spider-Man evades him, and gives up Jackpot's superhero name to Blue Shield. However, she's registered, as Blue Shield tells Spider-Man, and punches Spider-Man. Spider-Man evades his next kick and ends up in front of Jackpot, but she grabs him and Blue Shield prepares to unmask Spider-Man, until he wrests himself free and jumps upwards at the glider flying above, as laughter fills the air.

Spider-Man looks up and sticks to a weird new glider as the new villain, "Menace", tries to keep aloft and get rid of Spider-Man. Menace shocks Spider-Man, and causes him to fall downwards into the water. Menace tells Spidey that the electro-charge was only a warning, and slices him across the chest to injure him and prevent Spider-Man from following him. Spider-Man lays there until the morning, when Jackpot finds him and gives him a warm cup of coffee. The two agree to team up, and Spider-Man asks Jackpot to reveal her identity. She asks him to reveal his, and he says that he is Flash Thompson. Jackpot says her name is Sara Ehret. Peter is a tad dismayed that she isn't Mary Jane. They look at a clue together, to figure out the next move for Menace.

Later, Peter calls Lily and asks her if she spent the night with Harry Osborn, which she thinks is quite strange. He just wants to know if he was the Goblin-thing he faced the night before, to keep himself at ease, and Lily confirms Harry was with her, and that she won't tell Harry about the weird questions.

At Mt. Sinai Hospital, Mr. Jameson is raging about how he wants to charge Parker for inflicting emotional distress, when Marla comes in to help calm him. Marla tries to calm him down, without telling him that he no longer owns and runs the Daily Bugle...

In the law office of Matt Dowd, Mr. Maxwell from last issue talks about a possible case against Spider-Man, suing him for knocking him off of the building last issue.

Peter heads to The D.B., and talks with Mister Bennett, who tells him that he won't use his pictures of Menace as they aren't publishable. He tells Peter he'll give him another shot at the prize money, and make good on his promise if he brings some good publishable photos. Peter heads to a computer room at The DB, and tries to find out the investigating officer on the spider-tracer murders. Betty Brant helps him figure out who the officer is, Detective Quentin Palone, and Peter sets up an anonymous meeting between Spider-Man and the Detective, without alerting SHIELD.

The two go over the evidence from the spider-tracer murders, as Spider-Man confirms that is an old tracer of his, an old design for a model he hasn't used in years. The Detective reveals that there have been five different murder victims who have been found with spider-tracers on them in the past three months.

Across town, at a mayoral candidate debate and profile piece, Menace shows up, as the hall empties out in the confusion and shock of the moment, and Menace approaches the two candidates menacingly.

Back at the Police Station, Spider-Man tells Palone that he thought they agreed he wouldn't arrest him, to which the Detective tells him that was only for violation of the Superhuman Registration Act. However, as a person of interest in six homicides, he didn't agree to anything. Spider-Man and Palone witness an explosion in or around Harlem, and he thinks that Menace is there, but is prevented from heading to stop Menace as SHIELD officers start repelling from helicopters to try and restrain and detain Spider-Man...

In General...

Say what you want about ONE MORE DAY, because at least Brand New Day is turning out to be a fun ride. First off, having the book ship three times a month is a good way of keeping momentum for the series, and the ongoing plotlines. Plus, each arc is just 3 issues (at the moment), with elements continuing onwards into other arcs, by the varying writers. Now, OMD didn't NEED to occur for the Spider-titles to get back to basics, the essentials of solid storytelling, and it wasn't intrinsically necessary for Peter to be single in order to tell these stories, but the book HAS benefited from the retooling and refocusing of the character. A move towards shorter arcs, and more of a ongoing continuity is a big boon, as at times during JMS' celebrated run the arcs started to feel insular. Here, plot elements are continuously evolving and developing, even if not the main storyline that is being told.

Spider-Man deals with being confronted by a registered hero looking to make a collar, as well as a new menace, aptly called Menace. There's spider-tracers showing up as items associated in a number of homicides, Jameson is still in the hospital, and Peter is curious as to who Jackpot is, as well as his familiar foe.

Guggenheim has some fun here, with the Blue Shield attacking Spider-Man, which is really just an extension of the classic "hero vs. hero misunderstanding", and using Menace as an opportunity to take his show on the road. This is the kind of Peter Parker I like to read about, who's smart, looking at clues, trying to unravel a mystery, while dealing with a team-up, police wanting to arrest him, and trying to clear his name all at the same time. Guggenheim really manages to make the quips work as well.

The art by Larroca on the whole is pretty entertaining stuff, solid work, although at times I think that the colors are a little heavy for the gentle pencils and inks. By the end of the issue, I was thinking that if perhaps he'd had an inker on his pencils it would have provided greater definition to his characters than his own inks, and then the colors wouldn't have washed out the pencils as much, which is what I found was happening in some panels here. The colors just seemed a little heavy for the pencils they were illuminating.

Another fun issue, which is to be expected by this point. Next issue features the climax of Guggenheim's first arc, and in a few weeks I'm back with issue #552. Recommended!

Overall Rating...

The art was better and more cleaned up in this issue than in the last issue, although there are still some issues with it with regards to the colors and inks. The story was fun, it worked in a lot of different ideas and concepts and characters, worked in two interludes, and moved the plot forward for a variety of different plotlines.

Its really starting to feel like a classic Spider-Man book, with a variety of plotlines being juggled quite well, and the issue just flowing quite well and being a fun and enjoyable read once again.