Recent months have seen the extended losses of Spider-man throughout “The Gauntlet”, being hunted by a resurrected Kraven and his family, and fighting off many of his rogues once again and saving the life of the newborn baby of Harry Osborn and Lily Hollister. Here we are at the end of Brand New Day, as Amazing Spider-man will change to twice-monthly status with a sole writer, Dan Slott, for the first time in 3 years (the art team however seems to still be in flux with the upcoming arcs). This issue is meant as an end cap of sorts to the BND era.
The story opens with a man seated in a Long Island diner, asking about a poster on the counter with flowers and candles and a picture of a young woman—the poster reads “Remembering Oksana—always in our hearts” (head on over to Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 #625 if you’re wondering about Oksana). The waitress informs the man that Oksana used to work there and passed away on the Triborough Bridge a month before. The waitress comments that the man should be happy for all the second chances he gets—on the table is a prison-issue envelope with “Gonzalez V.” written on it. The patron is Vin Gonzalez, fresh out of Rikers, and he says he gives thanks to his higher power every day, for new beginnings.
Peter and Carlie Cooper are at a Halloween store. Carlie says she’s changed her mind about going with Peter to meet up with Michelle Gonzalez to pick up Vin, as well as going to Harry’s Halloween / going away party (again?). Carlie says it was her evidence that implicated Vin in the spider-tracer killings, getting him six months in prison, a sentence reduced by having Vin rat out his fellow officers. Peter says he needs Carlie there, and she goes off on him saying they’ve only gone on a couple dates, haven’t even kissed, and asks what she is to Peter—his girlfriend, his buddy, or what? Peter begs off, asking why get hung up on “definitions”? Carlie says until Peter figures out what he wants from her, why not just leave her alone?
Outside, Peter is getting chastised by Michelle on his cell-phone for being late. A Paris Hilton-type heiress is getting into a car saying she too is late—the driver reveals himself as Overdrive, saying he’s kidnapping her, and roars off in the transformed car in front of Pete. Peter thinks he’s still soaking his costume at home after traipsing around the sewers trying to recover Lily Hollister’s baby last issue, and decides to put on the cheapo Spider-man outfit he bought at the Halloween store. Spider-man is able to snatch the heiress out of the trunk of the car, and climbs up the side of a building with her. Overdrive changes the car he was driving into the Spider-mobile and gives chase up the side of the building. Spidey rips the window off the side of the building, sending OD and the spider-mobile flying. He webs them both up and into the hands of the police, who take OD away on the back of a horse—something he can’t transform with his power.
Covered in webs from the spider-mobile cannons, Spidey has to leave the heiress and his store bought costume on a rooftop, and swing off in his boxers and mask. He’s able to stop at his apartment on the way home to retrieve a change of clothes, and get to the diner where Vin waits, beating Michelle there. Michelle spills the beans to Vin that Peter is getting romantic with Carlie. Peter says it probably isn’t going to work out between them, Vin says he’s sorry to hear that. Two hours later, Vin is at the NYPD Forensics Division, to see Carlie and talk to her.
That night, at Aunt May’s Halloween party, Peter arrives at the door dressed as JJJ, complete with a brush on his head. Peter runs into Harry there—with his tyke strapped to him dressed as Doc Ock. Peter talks to Harry how it feels like the end of an era, with Harry leaving again. Harry says one door closes, another door opens. Harry tells Pete to relay a message to Spider-man—that they are square for once and for all, that Harry doesn’t blame Spidey for what went wrong in his life anymore.
Vin suddenly arrives, dressed in prison stripes—on his arm is Felicia in the Black Cat outfit; she takes her wig off--no wait, it’s Carlie Cooper. She says to Pete that Vin convinced her to come to see Harry off, but that as far as she’s concerned, her and Pete need never see each other again after that.
Vin comes up to Harry and the baby, who Harry reveals is named “Stanley”. Vin says “Your father wanted me to tell you you’d better take good care of him.” Harry asks what he means, and Vin says “Your father, Harry, my higher power. Norman Osborn”. Vin rolls up his sleeve to reveal a Green Goblin tattoo, and Harry is speechless.
Peter comes outside to find Mary Jane—dressed as Jackpot. Peter explains that he actually feels a bit depressed about finally catching Overdrive. MJ tells him to shut up, that Carlie called her today for advice. Over a panel montage of characters, MJ says who knows how things would be if there hadn’t been a Spider-man, but that Peter wasn’t the one who shot his Uncle Ben, the burglar did—and that everything is not Peter’s responsibility. Peter asks what MJ told Carlie—she replies that she said “Peter has the right to be happy” and that one day, she hopes he starts agreeing with that himself.
Peter finds Carlie alone in the kitchen. She asks if he’s seen Harry. Peter asks if she’ll be his girlfriend, and they kiss. Pete thinks to himself that it feels like the rightest thing in the world.
Well, after 100-odd issues, the status quo known as Brand New Day in Spider-man draws to a close. The story closes as it began—a party for Harry (his return in #545, and now his exit). Spidey fighting Overdrive calls back “Swing Shift”, and the shot of Pete trying on the chintzy Spider-man mask at the costume store brings to mind the Spider-tracer killer wearing the mask.
As good as many of the issues have been, I’m glad to see just where Spidey's world goes next, looking forward to what writer Dan Slott does with the book on his own. The revolving door of writers and artists the past three years has given the book a schizophrenic feel at times.
It seems as if Harry’s making his exit from the books now, as MJ moves into the role of confidant to Pete. I’m not sure what I think of this development. Harry should be able to raise his kid in peace, but the writers probably aren’t going to let him do that for long, and the fuss of bringing him back from the dead hardly seems worth it. Peter also takes the plunge here and ends up with Carlie Cooper. I give Carlie less than three years before she turns up in a freezer somewhere. She actually shows a spark of personality for once this issue, but I don’t like how she’s been foisted on us. We just sat through a whole storyline where one woman comes to the realization that she can’t be with a superhero with a dual identity (and there’s an aside to that here as MJ and Peter talk)—how long until we go through the exact same crap with Carlie? To me, Peter’s love life has long been the least interesting aspect of this series.
Really the most interesting development here is with Vin Gonzales. They’re certainly setting him up to be a villain of some sort (will he be the next Hobgoblin, revealed in the solicits? Will he be the next to inherit the Venom or Scorpion costumes?). The writers are certainly being purposefully ambiguous regarding Vin—will he be murderously mad at Peter for ending up with Carlie? (Though Vin having romantic feelings for Carlie was never particularly convincing to me in the first place). Either way, Vin seems to have gotten mixed up with Norman and some Green Goblin cult in prison, and this is a fantastic route to take him.
Taken by itself, this is a very fine issue (Van Lente’s story pacing shows shades of Peter David's writing style at times). A note, though, to Marvel—please no more Overdrive (or the Spider-mobile, for cripes sake). There’s tons of on-the-nose dialogue between characters this issue about “new beginnings” and this feeling like “the end of an era”, but I can’t really fault the creators for their sentimentality—the 100-whatever BND run has been mostly successful, and I believe it will be looked back on as a colorful and creatively fertile time for Spider-man overall.