By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Lafuente (Pencils), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)

The Story: Johnny Storm returns, while it’s another day for Spider-Man: school and battling NY’s criminals. Meanwhile, somewhere in his monitor-filled hideout, Mysterio reveals his plans.

What’s Good: Not a whole lot, considering that this was one giant “beat around the bush” issue filled with lots of vague and generic text.

What’s Not So Good: First and foremost, I @%&^#$ hate the art. From Peter’s outdated J-Pop hairdo, to the walking oval logo head of SPider-Mans’… The whole anime look just isn’t working. If anything, it amplifies a silly tone even throughout the action scenes and the “compelling” moments. The faces can’t be taken seriously, and the body movements and gestures are either way over the top or too exaggerated. The splash page where Spidey meets his foes for the issue capture all of this. Hence, I’m calling this the weakest splash I’ve seen in a long time.

As for Bendis’ writing, he showcases his trademark “teenagers don’t sound like that” dialogue and his vague, cliche, not-so-haunting monologues. WTF?! Peter’s too old to be saying $#^! like, “He was living in New York… when everything went jablewy.” As for Mysterio’s monologue, it lost all of its credibility when he barked out the whole “I don’t want a piece, I want the whole thing” line. Almost everything each character says in this book is either stupid or cliche (or both).

Another unfortunate thing about this book is that it beats around the bush (a cliche for the ones that believe that allow cliches to pass…). In the previous issue, you’re left with a pretty big cliff hanger with Johnny Storm returning. So in this issue, what do we get? Absolutely nothing. We don’t learn anything new about the Human Torch, nor do we see any stakes raised for Peter. Instead, readers are treated to a meaningless battle between Spider-Man and a mother and a daughter, as Aunt May waits and sees if Johnny Storm burns the couch in his slumber. It’s your signature Bendis TPB-filler issue.

Conclusion: Definitely not a good read, but I’ll still stick around to see if it gets better. Issue three will probably read more like the real “#2,” when we finally find out just what the hell happened to the Human Torch. But as of right now, the prolonged storytelling and the annoying anime look are not helping.

Grade: C-

-Raymond Hilario