By Bob Gale (writer), Phil Jimenez (pencils), Andy Lanning (inks), Jeremy Cox (colors)

It’s been nearly a year since Phil Jimenez’s glorious pencils have graced a Spider-Man book (last year’s Free Comic Book Day 2007), and that, my friends, is a year too long. Making his debut on Amazing Spider-Man, Jimenez’s pencils bring so much meticulous detail to each panel that you’ll find yourself stopping and just taking in the view. He not only knows how to draw oodles of people, but he also understands that New York, itself, is a character and brings it to life from the ground level. If you look closely, you’ll spot some funny cameos (which made me laugh).

So how was Bob Gale’s debut as writer? Well, he’s not as funny as Dan Slott (who’s still the Spider-Man writer to beat), or Marc Guggenheim, but that’s only because he doesn’t write too much humor into the issue. When he does, it’s pretty good, but for the most part, the Spidey that Gale writes is more of the rambling type. That said, there are a few moments that did make me laugh out loud, but those laughs came at the expense of silly cameos and easter eggs – and who knows if those were his idea or the editor or letterer’s.

What Gale does do is give us one heck of packed book – it’s completely loaded with dialogue. First we’re updated on Jonah’s situation; he still has no clue that the Bugle’s not his. Then we’re shown how crazy things have gotten at the Bugle with sensationalism completely taking over. Next, we’re introduced to The Freak, a common druggie / thug who gives Spidey a lot more trouble than usual. It’s really too early to tell if this new villain will be worthy of Spidey’s rogue gallery. Something about him seems “off” (no pun intended).

Feeling more like a double-sized issue, this book goes touches on just about every subplot that’s part of the Brand New Day storyline. Peter’s supporting cast is back in full force and it’s great to see him interacting with his circle of friends. I’m really interested to see where this whole thing with Carly goes! This issue’s not as funny, but it’s a good read. Gale and Jimenez have created a dense book that’ll keep your eyes occupied for a long time. (Grade: B+)

– J. Montes