Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #626

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This review was first published on: Aug 2010.

Background...

As if battling several of his classic rogues hasn’t been punishment enough lately, Peter has also found himself fired from his job with hizzoner Mayor J Jonah Jameson, after Peter doctored a photo to clear Jonah’s name in being involved with creating the new Vulture.

And of course, there’s still his shotgun-wielding, lawyer roommate Michelle Gonzales, (who Peter inadvertently hooked-up with after his Aunt May’s wedding, a situation exacerbated by the Chameleon posing as Pete), to deal with.

In Detail...

"The Sting"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #626
May 2010 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Fred Van Lente
Artist:  Michael Gaydos
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Articles: Kravinoff, Ana, Kravinoff, Sasha

At their apartment, Michelle is sitting with one of her dodgier clients, named Lucas. Peter asks if he can watch TV while they talk—Michelle cheerily informs Peter that until he pays his half of the cable bill, she’s not unlocking the parental control off of the cable. Lucas excuses himself, but not before setting off Peter’s spider-sense. He decides to trail Lucas to Queensboro Plaza.

There at a construction site, a bunch of goons are assembled, called into order by Bushwacker and Tombstone. Holding court over all of them is the crime lord The Hood. Hood tells the crowd that whoever gets in the ring and is the last man standing will receive his recent acquisition of Mac Gargan’s battlesuit, and will become the new Scorpion. Spidey, watching from above in the rafters, realizes he’s out of his depth. He thinks he needs to call in some backup, but sneaking up behind him is Lady Scorpion.

Spidey and Lady Scorpy battle it out, and she explains that SHIELD hooked her up with her powers and costume, expecting her to be a trained killer, but that she turned her back on them. She manages to sting Spidey with her tail, and tells him to stay out of her way. For some reason, the sting inhibits Spidey’s powers (because of something called S.P.I.N??)—he slides down when he tries to cling to a wall, down to where Tombstone and company spot him. The Hood orders them to kill him, and the gang sets upon him.

Lady Scorpion, meanwhile, trashes The Hood and grabs Gargan’s suit for herself. Hood orders the thugs to forget Spider-man and kill her instead. This gives Peter the chance to change into street clothes. He then bumps headlong into Michelle Gonzales—Peter explains that he didn’t like the looks of her charge, Lucas, and that Peter decided to trail him. Michelle spin kicks a thug with a machine gun. She explains if she’s curt and aggressive, it’s because the clients who depend on her deserve nothing less.

The Hood is still stalking Lady Scorpion—Tombstone jumps her from the shadows, biting into her shoulder. She zaps him with her tail—but the Hood and his gang find her.

Michelle runs into Lucas—he asks what in the hell she’s doing there, and explains how worthless she really is to another thug. He starts choking her, but Peter comes up and clubs him from behind. His spider-sense beginning to come back, Peter sends Michelle off to call the cops, and changes back into Spidey. Just in time to save Lady Scorpy from Hood, and bring the unstable support beams in the ceiling down on the thugs with webbing. Swinging with Scorpy to the safety of nearby building, Scorpy tells Spidey she owes him one.

Later, Peter and Michelle are talking in a café. Michelle feels like a fool for being taken by Lucas. She admits she was wrong about Lucas, and that maybe she’s wrong about Peter too. They agree to a truce, and Peter apologizes for whatever happened the night of Aunt May’s wedding. Michelle tells him it’s a good first step, but that he still can’t watch her cable TV.

Epilogue: down in Midtown Manhattan, near dawn, Lady Scorpia is handing over Gargan’s old Scorpion outfit to, who else, but Sasha and Ana Kraven. Sasha rattles off something about the garb of a sacred totem, and how the animal spirits will be pleased. Lady Scorpion mutters how they’re Russian nutjobs.

In General...

I didn’t care for this story a lot the first time I read it; it’s only fairly better to me after a re-read.

The good news is, Michelle Gonzales become much more fleshed-out in this story. Being humbled by her criminal client was a good direction to take her, as the combative, uber-cruel roommate role she was playing was getting pretty tedious. Could her and Peter end up doing more than hooking up? This issue seems to point to that direction, though it’s unlikely.

I have to admit, though I’m a lifelong Marvel reader, I don’t know much about the current world of the Marvel U, and didn’t know much about The Hood. His presence here, along with Tombstone and even Lady Scorpion, doesn’t make much of an impression—they come off as mere pawns acting out the story beats. This is partly me not being familiar with The Hood, as I understand he’s pretty big elsewhere in the Marvel U.

Then there’s Michael Gaydo’s pulpy artwork—in many panels it’s very good, and I like the expressive way he draws faces, especially Michelle’s. On other pages, the art is very drab and the empty, sometimes barren backgrounds of many of the warehouse scenes don’t help. The coloring also is just a little too off the wall.

The gibberish that Sasha Kraven utters at the end doesn’t really help me understand why she was willing to pay top dollar for Mac Gargan’s old Scorpion suit, but I suppose it doesn’t matter a lot now, does it? Like much of the build up to The Gauntlet and Grim Hunt the last 26 issues, it feels tacked-on here.

Overall Rating...

Good writing of Michelle Gonzales here; for once she comes off as more than just a shrill thorn in Peter’s side, and I have higher hopes for her character now. Didn't care a lot for the main story. Though while I like a good standalone issue as much as the next reader, this one didn’t particularly do it for me.