Al Gets Discouraged (SPOILERS)

I just read ASM Vol. 2 #3 last night. It was not a pleasant experience. You know, I was one of the people who was actually intrigued by this "new Spidey in town" storyline, as gimmicky as it obviously was. But it wasn't even given a chance to develop into something. The new Spidey was unmasked and replaced by the original in the second issue already. And what are we given in its stead? More Gathering of Five nonsense! I can think of a half-dozen old plot threads that have seemingly been forgotten for good and here we have a plot thread that I WISH they would forget about and it... won't... go... away!

So, "The Searing Secret of Shadrach" is revealed, the cover blurb screams. Big deal. It's revealed on page five. Shadrach is Override, you see, the guy who participated in the Gathering of Five and he's now hanging out with some guy I don't think we've ever seen before last issue but I can't tell because I sleptwalked through most of the Gathering and Final Chapter. And if I'M confused, what about the people who have picked up the series for the first time? Isn't that what this re-start is all about?

Wasn't the whole idea behind going to a new #1 so that new readers would feel comfortable jumping in? Then why are they being subjected to this tedious and confusing Gathering business? There isn't even one of those gatefold covers with the re-cap on it to get everyone up to speed. And where are the famous Marvel footnotes that tell the reader where all this happened before. Not here, that's for sure. If I was a new reader who came on with #1, I would give up right now. I would be apathetic and lost. And if the reason for going to #1 was NOT to gain new readers, then why did they do it? Most of us old-timers would rather keep the old numbering.

Still, maybe I should give Mackie the benefit of the doubt. After all, where was he going to fit in the information that would make all this make sense what with half of the issue filled to the brim with static poses and a dull fight scene?

Now some minor points (which, all together, start to add up to a major one). WHY can't Spidey adhere to the wall on page three? Because he's got "too much momentum"? So, as a result, he can actually dig his fingers into the building, creating deep rivulets but he can't use his sticking power to stop? Maybe my impression of how his powers work is way off-base but that just seems completely wrong to me.

Second, the guy with the earrings (who IS this guy? did I miss an issue?) uses the name Shadrac and our combustible villain says, "My name is not Shadrac". OK, fine. But what did he say in #2 when he confronted the fake Spidey? He said, "I am Shadrac!" Make up your mind, pal!

Third, I don't know about you guys, but where I work, there aren't psycho co-workers who grab your arm and scream "Stay out of my way!" at you. And Howard makes it clear that it is not just Peter who takes guff from this guy. He is a psycho to everyone. So, why does he still have a job there? I don't think everyone would laugh this sort of insane behavior off with a "don't worry about him". Actually, I see this as Howard Mackie's fault. Javier is a failure as a character because he HAS no character. Having him scream at Peter isn't characterization. It's sloppy writing. This character better get some depth pretty quick or else let's be rid of him.

In the letter's page, all three letters are, unsurprisingly, positive. But one says that "After reading the Final Chapter storyline, I thought there was no way anybody could top it" while another says "And it's so great to see Aunt May again!" Are these real letters? Are there others who feel this way cause I sure don't. Am I alone in my feelings here? (It wouldn't be the first time.) These kinds of comments in letters always surprise me. Are these people reading the same issues I am? What's going on?

Speaking of "what's going on", in Marvel's recents revamps, they have brought in some strong writers. Thor got Jurgens, Iron Man got Busiek, Cap got Waid, Daredevil got Smith and Spider-Man got... Mackie? How in the heck did THIS happen? I just don't get it.

Well, that's mostly it. Thanks for letting me spout off. The problem is that, after the awful events in Gathering and Final Chapter, I was getting a kick out of these new issues. I started to think that we may have turned a corner and started to get somewhere. Then #3 comes out. As I said, I've gotten very discouraged again. It looks like just the same old slop.