Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #604

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This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

Jonah Jameson, recently elected Mayor of New York, is arranging a photo-op at his "shadow command center" base of operations in NY, and Peter Parker has been selected to take the photos. What better way for the newly-returned Chameleon to infiltrate and plant a bomb for his terrorist employers than to capture and kill Peter and assume his idenity? Despite taking over his life, Chameleon still doesn't know that Peter's really Spider-man, and that he's escaped from the acid that was supposed to dissolve and dispose of his body..

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #604
Nov 2009 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Fred Van Lente
Pencils:  Barry Kitson
Inker:  Barry Ketcham, Barry Kitson
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Articles: Chameleon, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Kravinoff, Sasha

A paranoid Chameleon-as-Peter realizes his secret lair has been compromised and decides to blow it up. He leaves with an unconscious woman slung over his shoulder and his mask-making gun; little does he realize that affixed to the gun is a Spider-tracer.

The next morning Peter is out in costume tracking Chameleon. He thinks how close he was to perishing in Chameleon's deathtrap last issue: as he was being lowered into the acid pit, his spider-sense took over on an unconcious level, prompting him to web himself up in a protective cocoon that the acid couldn't eat through. Upon breaking free, he placed a tracer on Chameleon's mask-gun, and went to get the burns from the acid treated.

His tracer-tracker narrows down Cheameleon's movements in the city to a four-block radius. He realizes Chammy could be just about anyone in the neighborhood. Spidey's spider-sense starts going haywire: he's set upon by Manrdoids who attack him on a rooftop, making him drop his tracking device. Jonah's face appears on a monitor on one of the Mandroid's suits so he can rant at Spidey. Spidey tries to explain that Shadow Command is about to compromised and he's trying to help. Inside Shadow Command, they're preparing to open up the motor pool doors for an Officer Trillo in an armored car. Spidey realizes this is the lone police officer vehicle that's ignoring him and realizes it's Chameleon, jumping down onto the hood.

He pulls Chameleon, posing as the blonde woman Officer Trillo, out of the car, but she's able to grab a detonator and activate it. Jonah's Mandroids start firing on Spidey for assaulting the officer. Spidey gets ahold of Trillo's head, pulling off a section of the mask before she runs off. Spidey shows the police the mask scrap, and opens the car doors and finds a dirty bomb. Spidey orders the Mandroids to use their "built-in particle field accelerators" to contain the bomb, saying he read about the feature in Popular Mechanics. Spidey escapes, and for saving the city, the Mandroids go against Jonah's wishes and opt not to chase him. Jonah is enraged later to learn that the spider-slayer squad all choose to resign--he says to put out a press release saying Spider-man was working with a terrorist. Haskell, Jonah's Deputy Mayor for Operations, reminds him that he's not running a newspaper anymore and can't print whatever he likes. Haskell also hands Jonah a letter of resignation, saying Jonah shouldn't put personal vendettas over the business of the city.

Later in May's Forest Hills neighborhood, Peter's thinking how Chameleon escaped, leaving behind the gun with the spider-tracer on it. Pete's going to his Aunt's to avoid Michele, his clingy and combative roommate. The Reilly's are still in town, staying at May's while she and Jay are on their honeymoon. He's surprised to find Harry staying there, and getting friendly with Pete's female cousins. Pete wonders what kind of havoc Chameleon wreaked while impersonating him. He goes upstairs to find MJ in his room, who gives him a big hug. MJ thanks him for choosing to help Harry, and says whoever Pete's dating, she better be good to him or she'll have to deal with MJ, leaving Pete even more confused.

Pete arrives back his apartment, ready for anything from Michelle except the kiss on the mouth she gives him. She says she wants him to work on his punctuality if they're going to date, and that there must be a minimum of two hours quality time together a day. She also says Pete's going to meet her parents and take her out to dinner on his tab. In shock, Pete thinks to himself that when he finds Chameleon, he'll kill him for getting him in this situation.

Finally, that night, a limo is pulling up on the street in the rain to a figure, calling him Dmitri. Dmitri says not to call him that, that it's just one of his many names; he says right now he's Janice Trillo, who had a strained relationship with her father which Dmitri was going to help with, that he helps fix all his faces' lives, just like how he tried make Parker take responsibility for the first time in his life. He wonders aloud how Spider-man found out, and where he, Dmitri, went wrong. The person in the limo entreats Dmitri to get inside, that her husband, Kraven the Hunter, introduced them. She says Spider-man killed her husband, and her daughter, and that she needs Dmitri's help to return the favor.

In General...

#602 had an exciting cliffhanger, as Chameleon dumped Peter's body in acid to facilitate taking over his idenity. We saw that Peter somehow survived at the end of last issue; opening this issue with Peter having already escaped and relating how he did so after the fact kind of robs that cliffhanger of some of its suspense in a way.

All in all, this was nearly an excellent issue, and was certainly one of the better arcs I've read in the Brand New Day continuity. Van Lente has come up with a creepy new modus operandi for Chameleon, and makes him the more serious threat that he always had the potential to be (I like the twisted notion that Chameleon has that he helps fix his victim's lives--that's a great touch). But it's also sort of disappointing to not see Spidey at least get to confront Chameleon for impersonating him, instead having to battle off the Mandroids. It makes sense though from a writer's perspective, as Chameleon could never hope to defeat Spidey in actual combat.

There are also some good small moments here at the end as this arc winds down--Jonah realizing the limits of his power in office, and Pete and MJ's interaction at the end. Very funny to see the chaos that Chameleon created by posing as Peter. I take it that the appearance of Kraven's wife at the end sets up the forthcoming "Gauntlet" story line as well.

Overall Rating...

Hard to gripe about this chapter--part of one of the best tales yet in the new Spidey era. But at two years into Brand New Day, we still know frustratingly little about how and why Peter's idenity reveal during Civil War got covered back up, how he and Mary Jane's marriage was nullified (and what exactly she whispered to Mephiso before the deal went down), and how villains like Chameleon don't know Peter is Spider-man anymore (it was hinted in a previous issue how familiar the name Peter Parker was to Dmitri). Is it magic, or something else? Will the reveal be worth the fuss? Marvel needs to give fans some more answers soon, regardless.