Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #664
This story is part of an Arc: "The Return Of Anti-Venom"
Part 1 / Part 2
This review was first published on: Jul 2011.
A new Wraith is hunting criminals on the nighttime streets, and she's revealed herself to be murdered police captain Jean DeWolff.
Eddie Brock has decided to expose Martin Li as the drug-smuggling crime lord Mr. Negative. Upon attacking Li as Anti-Venom, Brock was intercepted by Spidey, who doesn't know of Martin Li's dual identity. Anti-Venom quickly got the upper hand over Spider-man in their fight, however, and now holds him captive..
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #664 (Story 1)
Aug 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Wraith, Anti-Venom, Mr Negative appear
Arc: Part 2 of "The Return Of Anti-Venom"
|Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man: Infested #1|
|Articles: Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich), Hammerhead|
Brock holds Spidey captive at a former methamphetamine drug lab that he's busted up. Webbed to the wall, Brock attempts to remove Spidey's mask, saying if they're going to be teaming up and Spidey knows Brock is Anti-Venom, Brock should know who Spidey is.
Much like the ability that allows Spidey to cling to and climb walls, the same stickniness can apparently be applied to his facial region--ergo Brock can't get the mask fully off because of it.
Brock says he knows he has to fully earn Spidey's trust, and tells him to hang around, webbed, while he goes to take care of some errands--getting more intel on this evening's drug drop, which Anti-Venom attributes to Mr. Negative. Brock reiterates that Martin Li is Mr. Negative, which Spidey disbelieves. Anti-Venom swings out the window, saying he'll show everyone he's right. With last issue's voice-controlled web shooters, Spidey is able to snag a bottle of acetone nearby in the room to help dissolve Anti-Venom's webbing.
In the West Village, The Wraith is roughing up an Antiques dealer named Rothner, whom the Wraith accuses of human traffiking. Wraith wants info the man has on one of Mr Negative's drug shipments. Little does Wraith know she's being watched from a nearby rooftop--by Carlie Cooper, who's using infared binoculars that show the Wraith is actually giving off body heat and is not a ghost.
Mayor Jonah Jameson is appearing with Martin Li on TV, meanwhile, showing off Li's "newly acquired collection of Chinese terracotta warriors" going on dispaly at the Metro museum. On the scene covering the event is Norah Winters, with Randy Robertson running the camera for her. Up comes Phil Urich, aka Hobgoblin, asking why Randy is shooting footage for Norah as Phil is usually her cameraman. Randy says any idiot can run a camera and he's helping his girl with her work. Insulted, Phil says any idiot could've brought Norah the footage of Hobgoblin fighting Hercules and Spider-girl recently, and that he's sure he can find another reporter to work with. This gets Norah on his arm, saying she didn't want to bug him with a puff piece like the Mayor's press conference, but that she's going to try to bag an interview with Li, and Phil can tag along. His face doing the split Phil/Hobby thing like Peter's, Phil thinks he's going to have to find a permanent solution to the Randy Robertson problem.
One of Li's thugs pull him aside onstage--the heroin has been smuggled inside the terracotta statues, and his henchmen will be in the museum that night to clean the drugs out. Disguised as a guard nearby is Brock, who overhears the whole thing.
Back at Anti-Venom's lair, Spidey has almost gotten free of Venom's webbing--just as he breaks free, Anti Venom comes back in the window and webs Spidey up yet again. He slings Spidey over his shoulder, saying they're taking a field trip to the museum.
At Evidence Storage at the police station, Carlie is following up on the Jean DeWolff mask made by Mysterio. The guard tells Carlie it was destroyed in an accident--a pumpkin bomb went off. Carlie reads the report--the only person in the evidence room at the time of the accident was Captain Yuri Wantanbe.
At the Metro museum, Anti-Venom webs Spidey up to a statue and goes off to find Li. Hiding among a bunch of the statues is Li in Mr Negative form with a katana, which he plunges right through Anti-Venom's back (doesn't Brock as Anti-Venom have some kind of spider-sense still or not?). Negative says whatever healing powers Anti-Venom got from Li can be taken away by Negative.
Meanwhile, Wraith appears at the museum and frees Spidey from the webbing. Spidey instantly recognizes Mysterio's tech that Wraith is using. He says his standards for a partner are low at the moment, and they spring into action together, taking on Negative and his thugs.
Spidey is able to set off an alarm in another part of the museum. Negative says the police will come to bury Spider-man and throws a vial of the personalized "devil's breath" death gas at Spider-man made with Spidey's blood. Of course, back in Amazing #621 Spidey and Black Cat broke into Negative's penthouse and replaced the vial with pig's blood, so the devil's breath has no effect. Spidey is able to waylay Negative with an uppercut--dazing him long enough for Wraith to use some facial recogintion tech built into her mask (given to Capt. Watanabe by Max Modell) to expose Negative as Martin Li. The tech is uplinked to "every computer, TV and smart phone in range", and soon thousands across New York are seeing Li exposed as Negative, including Aunt May at home, who is shocked to learn of Li's double dealings.
Negative and his goons escape as the police arrive. Wraith also takes off. Spidey takes the katana out of Anti-Venom, and he swings off too, after Spidey admits Brock was right about Li.
Spidey spots Carlie come in, and climbs on the ceiling, following her into another room where Carlie confronts Captain Watanabe, saying she tracked the captain by slipping her GPS-enabled phone in Watanabe's pocket last issue. Carlie says she knows everything, that Watanabe is the new Wraith, but wants to know why. Watanabe explains that she was friends with Jean DeWolff and say how people outside the system like Daredevil and Spider-man helped bring in Jean's killer, Sin-Eater, and how Watanabe saw how a dose of fear worked on street criminals, so she donned the Wraith persona. Carlie says she won't turn Watanabe in, but that the Wraith should probably go away for awhile.
A couple of epilogues: Martin Li is chained somewhere in a room, by his own thugs, who says he won't be freed until he changes back into Mr Negative, and that otherwise Li is nothing.
At Peter's apartment, Peter tells Carlie that Spider-man overheard Carlie confroting Watanabe at the museum and told him everything, and Peter asks why she's not turning Watanabe in? Carlie says the Captain is one of the good guys, and why doesn't Peter tell her the truth about his connection to Spider-man? Reluctantly, Peter admits that he designs all of Spider-man's tech (similar to what Peter told Max Modell in Amazing #654). Carlie hugs him, asking "isn't that better" about coming clean with her, that they don't have some huge secret between them? Peter says that's how it should be, right?
First off, the whole thing with Anti-Venom trying to unmask Pete and his mask sticking to his face--there is some precedent for this, as I remember back during the last part of The Other story in Amazing #528, when Spidey is clearing out the collapsing burning building, he has the young girl cling to his back using the same stickiness as he gets her out. But that was in the aftermath of Peter getting 'The Other' powers, which Marvel has swept under the rug since the multiple series reboots. Here, it just comes off a bit arbitrary having his mask stick. Wasn't that the argument for getting rid of the spider-sense, that writers used it too arbitrarily? I may be over-thinking this, but it seems that being arbitrary about this ability is just what Slott is doing here. How does Spidey keep his entire costume from sticking to himself altogether, and does he control the ability mentally?
Otherwise, this is a rather good installment. The story threads with Wraith, Anti-Venom and Negative are well-resolved. The only downside to this issue is that Spider-man spends most of it webbed up by Brock. I really didn't connect the dots last issue and realize that Captain Watanabe had stolen the Jean DeWolff mask and was using it to masquerade as her as the new Wraith--should've been obvious last issue. First Vin Gonzales, and then Carlie's ex-police father, and now Captain Watanabe--seems like the writers are going to the story well of corrupt or shady NYC cops a little too often. Carlie's sleuthing here is commendable, however, and this is probably the best sub-plot involving Carlie since the Character Assassination arc.
Regarding Norah, Phil and Randy--Marvel has once again mentioned in solicits that a longtime character will be making "the ultimate sacrifice" in an upcoming issue. Seeing as how Phil has decided he needs to do something about Randy, it would seem Randy's next on the "supporting characters who need to die to lend the story line dramatic weight" chopping block. I hope Slott and company have something trickier up their sleeves, as killing off supporting characters every ten issues or so is getting really repetitive. There won't be anyone left of the supporting cast if they keep on this path.
Also good to see Martin Li finally exposed as Mr. Negative; hopefully this means he can now ascend as a bigger criminal threat now. The showdown between Negative and Spidey was a long time coming and it's good to see a resolution of sorts to it here, finally. I was also hoping to at least see Anti-Venom interact with The Wraith some more, especially since he saw her unmasked as Jean DeWolff last issue. Sure, Brock is more obsessed with Mr. Negative in these issues, but wouldn't he at least want to find out how or why DeWolff was supposedly alive?
I'm also just not really buying that Max Modell and now Carlie, with her detective instincts, both believe that Peter merely designs Spider-man's technology. This idea really doesn't hold up to scrutiny (why would Modell for instance, charge Peter with disappearing every time Spidey appears if he's just providing tech for Spidey? They're still not around at the same time). Something tells me Carlie's sleuthing abilities will bore out the truth on this eventually.
Finally, once again the art and coloring both deliver the goods here as well, creating an appropriately pulpy, noirish atmosphere for this story.
Relatively good stuff all around here--the juggling of multiple plots and characters is admirably balanced. Could've been a higher grade if this issue had more of Spidey in action, though.