Amazing Spider-Man #583Amazing Spider-Man #583
Writers: Mark Waid, Zeb Wells
Pencillers: Barry Kitson, Todd Nauck
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Dean White
Price: $3.99 (and a 25-minute wait in the cold)
I promise I will not give into the hype, I promise I will not give into the hype, I promise I will not give into the hype...
And even with that promise, I'll say this: Amazing Spider-Man #583 is really, really good.
Back during the One More Day storyline, one of the, if not the main defense that Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada used in the undoing of Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson was that there were stories that couldn't be told with a married Spider-Man. But it took until this issue, under the pen of Mark Waid, for me to actually believe it.
Waid is an old-school master of the form, and so he does readers a great service by not only starting off with action, but by also explaining Spider-Man's status quo. Every story is someone's first, and this is a fantastic issue to jump on board - if you can find it, of course. Waid really gets a nice snark to Peter Parker's bravado - crashing an armored enemy into a building while saying, "Think Falcon! Not Cannonball!" - but also gives a compelling inner monologue from the perspective of Daily Bugle reporter Betty Brant.
One-liners aside, Waid's script really shines during the scenes where Betty tries to set Peter up with a bevy of women, each with varying degrees of failure due to the humorous facets of Peter's personality. For the first time in a while, at least to me, the old Parker luck -- one that doesn't involve serial killers or clones or eviction or poverty -- is back, the sort of "this is really my life?" kind of moments that everyone can relate to. Let me repeat that: Everyone. Can. Relate. To.
Of course, Peter dating is really the B-story, as Betty takes us into the world of Spider-Man, post Brand New Day, by examining the central irony of Peter Parker's world: the fact that everyone sees this tortured, responsible hero as a flighty, irresponsible flake. If I have one complaint, I wish there would be more Spider-Man action, but, still, the stellar character building makes up for it. But Waid is smart enough not to go the clichéd route, and while I think his ending might be a little too pat, the denouement ends on a high enough note that it really doesn't matter. By the time I was finished reading this story, I thought Betty Brant might be a good replacement for MJ after all. That's not good writing -- that is amazing writing.
The art is also a nice fit for the issue. I'll be honest, when I had heard that Barry Kitson was involved for this project, I wasn't sure it was going to fit -- while I liked his work on JLA: Year One and Batman, I thought his stuff on The Order was a little stiff, and a character as fluid as Spider-Man might suffer compositionally. Well, I'm glad to be wrong in this regard -- the opening fight scene is really cleanly laid out, and while Peter isn't achieving Erik Larsen or Mark Bagley-level twisty acrobatics, this is still pretty good. And, as seems to be the norm for most of the Marvel books I've been reading lately, the color work by Dean White is superb -- it's a little dark in places, but I think that adds a nice touch of realism. Of course, scenes where Peter is dating are nice and bright, and it sets a really amusing tone to a nice character story.
Now I'm sure you're all waiting for the big debate about the Obama story. Considering it's all of five pages, it's pretty good, if not slightly gimmicky in a Hostess snack cake kind of way. Zeb Wells seems to have a good take on Spider-Man's voice, with even small stylistic choices like "Yo, Prez-Elect! I loved you in the debates!" ringing true. And while Todd Nauck isn't exactly photorealistic with his rendition of Obama, the art is fluid and works for the story. Really, the only problem I have with this backup is that much of the press blitzkrieg from the last week or so really said it all -- you more or less know most of the story already. But - the Chameleon doesn't know what basketball is? Really? The story hinges on that? Seriously?
But in case you're all wondering -- should I buy this issue? The answer is a resounding yes. While I think speculators will soon be disappointed, this is a great starting point – or a “try again point” for readers young and old. I had previously felt that after issue #500, the Spider-Man franchise began to flounder in the murky waters of Civil War, and then began to sink in its efforts to distance Brand New Day from its editorially-mandated predecessor. But with issue #583, I can say with certainty that Amazing Spider-Man is living up to its name again.