Best Shots Advance Review: AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #11


Avenging Spider-Man #11

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Steve Dillion and Frank Martin, Jr.

Lettering by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

In many ways, Avenging Spider-Man #11 is more of a "true" anniversary issue than the flagship , in the fact that Zeb Wells focuses on the very core of the Spider-Man mythos: Uncle Ben. A goodbye issue for Wells himself, parts of this issue will pull on the heartstrings just by virtue of it being graveside commentary. That said, in the final analysis, neither the message nor the artwork go nearly far enough.

Starting off with a halfhearted action sequence, Wells knows just as well as we do that that's not the point of this comic — this is a remembrance. A visitation. A conversation at a cemetery. Peter Parker, Aunt May and Uncle Ben.

The problem? Even though it's been more than a decade since it took place, I couldn't help but think of a more substantive conversation between Peter and May, written by none other than J. Michael Stracyznski — one where Peter was forced to come clean about his secret identity. Whereas JMS's issue tackled this dynamic head-on, Wells has to dance around the secret identity issue as the two visit Ben's grave, never really moving forward or adding anything new to May and Peter's relationship.

The resulting story feels a lot like a clip show from TV, as Wells flips back to key moments in Peter's life, from Gwen Stacy all the way to "Kraven's Last Hunt." If there was a more substantive theme linking them all together, giving new insight as to why these moments matter, that would be one thing — unfortunately, the monologue seems to be more tailored to the moments, rather than the other way around.

Artist Steve Dillon is a curious choice for this issue. I can understand why he was tapped for this comic — he's known for his slower beats rather than for flashy action chops, and can pace a dramatic conversation better than most. Yet here he seems off his game. The expressions for the characters seem particularly flat, and his design for Peter in particular really puts a spotlight on how similar many of his other characters look — the spiky hair and heavy lids seem to come straight from his run, which can prove jarring when you're thinking of the agile, soulful Peter Parker.

That probably wouldn't be an issue if the storytelling had some more punch to it. This is a combination of Wells not giving Dillon much to work with, and Dillon not punching up some of the quieter scenes with some more overt emotional beats. There's one scene, however, that does truly hit home — watching Aunt May break down following Ben's memorial service is tragic, especially when Wells asks whether or not you would truly want more time with your lost loved ones.

This comic is well-intentioned and already locked and loaded for fanboy wistfulness, and that will allow Avenging Spider-Man #11 to weather most charges against the issue. I feel like what makes stories like this original are the new insights writers can bring to characters, the point of view they bring to years of history and myth. That's what this comic lacks most of all — it doesn't know what it wants to be.

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