Amazing Spider-Man #644
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Paul Azaceta and Javier Rodriguez
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
All right! This is an event I can get behind!
I said it last time and I'll say it again -- "Origin of the Species" is the most fun I've had reading Amazing Spider-Man since Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara's superlative Rhino issues. This book out-Gauntlets the earlier "Gauntlet" arc, as Mark Waid continues to ratchet up problems for the Webhead, and manages to successfully juggle an armada of supporting characters, as well.
While I think this issue doesn't quite have the thematic heft that the last one did -- with the two-page stunner on the ubiquitousness of cell phone cameras and YouTube journalists -- I think Waid's greatest strength is that he gives Spidey a huge handicap, and then proceeds to make complications at every turn. No two characters are alike in all this -- my favorite moment is with the Rhino, where Peter takes a very unconventional method to get him off his back. And there are lots of little moments here that show Waid's not finished with his bag of tricks: touches like the Octo-tracer or the sudden silence before the Rhino drops in are just a blast from a craft perspective.
And Paul Azaceta. Azaceta is working his tuchus off, and his work really shows. I love his sense of character composition here -- seeing Tombstone running across a cop car is just such a great use of a limited space, and the silhouette he gives his figures has a bold linework that I think really draws together characters despite a shockingly detailed background. Azaceta is one of those artists that doesn't need to vary up his panel layouts that much -- instead, he uses distance and variation inside the panels to keep things moving. I could go on and on about what he does right in this book -- there's a great use of white space with Spidey vs. the Rhino that could get its own paragraph, in no small part to some evocative lettering by Joe Caramagna -- but I don't have all day.
"Origin of the Species" is the real deal, bar-none. The book moves fast, it shoehorns a ton of characters (and neglects absolutely none of them), and it allows Mark Waid to show Spider-Man's full range of emotions: He's joking, he's desperate, he's defeated, he's enraged. I've said it once and I'll say it again, this arc is the full package. Now that Waid has thrown our Webslinger for a loop, the real question is: How's he going to top himself next?What did you think of this issue?