Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #662

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Substitute"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: Jun 2011.

Background...

The Avengers Academy kids: Let's see if I can remember anything about them since last issue: Hazmat has to stay in her containment suit or she could go off like a nuke. Mettle is the big metal guy, which is standard super-team stuff, except his metal facade is basically his skin. Finesse may or may not be the daughter of the villain Taskmaster and has similar abilities (namely his trademark "photographic reflexes"). Reptil turns into a raptor-esque creature. Veil turns into smoke, and I cannot for the life of me remember anything about Striker (turns out he wields lightening or electricity).

In Detail...

""The Substitute" pt. 2"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #662 (Story 1)
Jul 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Avengers Academy, Psycho Man appear
Arc: Part 2 of "The Substitute"
Story:  Christos Gage
Artist:  Reilly Brown
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Cover Art:  Ed McGuinness, Morry Hollowell
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  John Rauch
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Ellie Pyle
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man: Infested #1

Psycho Man has turned the Academy kids against Spider-man in the alley, saying it's kill or be killed time. Spider-man strategizes and takes out the most dangerous first, Hazmat, who's trying to tear out of her containment suit. He webs her and tosses her into dumpster, bemoaning the loss of his spider-sense again before being clobbered from behind by Mettle. A dodged attack from Reptil sets Mettle crashing into Psycho Man. Reptil begins to fight his dino-form, becoming partially human, and tells Spidey that the only way to stop him, and his teammates, is to kill them.

After Spidey spars with the Academy for a bit, Psycho Man gets bored and lures them out into the street, where they start attacking the adoring public who recognize them but don't realize the heroes are possessed. Spider-man thinks he can't let them kill or their lives will be over, even if it kills him to do it. He's able to talk Reptil down, who changes back into his human form and talks sense into Veil, who uses her powers to conjure up a smell that reminds the kids of their abuse at the hands of Norman Osborn. It snaps them out of Psycho Man's control and as a team they proceed to batter him, which Psycho finds "fascinating."; he prattles on as they smash his form and put him down that he won by exposing their fears and doubts, and that they are already irretrievably lost.

Spidey explains that being microscopic in normal existence, Psycho Man shrunk back down to size (and escaped back to the micro verse?) when the Academy punctured his suit. He also has to play down the smack talk Psycho was talking about the kids already being too far "irretrivable". Later at Avengers Mansion, Spider-man is talking with Hank Pym, saying he knows he wasn't much of a substitute teacher and endangered the students lives. The kids protest, one saying that was the best day of school ever, and Reptil in particular appealing to Pym on Spidey's behalf. Pym says he'll try to make Spidey's school visits a regular thing, to which Spidey and all the students beg off simultaneously with a "no!".

In General...

As lamented in last issue's review, the momentum that writer Dan Slott and various artists had built up since the soft reboot in Amazing #648 has all but lost steam after the Future Foundation issues (also written by Slott) and now this two-parter featuring Avengers Academy, guest-written by Gage.

And yet the artwork here is clean and dramatic, and very well-colored, while the story is engaging enough to hold the reader's interest and is by turns witty and dark. It just feels for a second like we're back in Brand New Day territory, with the revolving artists and writers every few issues, even though in this case it's just probably a way to keep the book on its three-a-month schedule. Here's hoping there aren't a lot of more guest-creator issues planned in the near future, as I'm interested to see what Slott has planned with the upcoming "Spider-Island" arc (the two-page "Infested" teasers have already worn their course, though).

Overall Rating...

A solid enough fill-in; Peter acting as a teacher and role model to some fledgling heroes makes for a worthwhile story (despite the constant drubbing Spider-man gets as said role model from Giant Man, which grates and strains plausibility after awhile). Christos Gage also has a good ear for writing in the voice of Spider-man. That said, it'll be good to get back to Slott's main story and hopefully back to some of the supporting cast next issue. Two point five webs.