By: Mark Waid (writer), Paul Azaceta (art), Javier Rodriguez (colors) & Joe Caramanga

The Story: Peter Parker settles into his new status quo with a visit from his #1 villain.

What’s Good: The best thing about this issue is that it has nothing to do with that dreadful One Moment In Time.  No one is trying to correct/explain continuity here.   This is just a plain-old standard healthy meal of Spider-Man.  I’ve said that one of the best things about ASM’s frequent publication schedule is that bad stories are over fast.  Can you imagine if OMIT had stretched out for 4+ months???? Ugh….

This issue plays with a lot of thing things that I like most about Peter Parker: his constant poverty and his problematic love life by showing how Peter’s challenging roommate is selling his clothes to pay his part of the rent, forcing Peter to wear a weird outfit on a date with Carlie.   I love the soap opera that the creators have made out of Peter’s love life.  I’m not ashamed to admit I watched soap operas when I was a kid and home sick from school and there are a LOT of those vibes as you see Peter making progress with Carlie but inside I’m yelling, “Carlie????!!!!????   What about Betty or Michelle or Norah?  They’re all WAY cuter!”  Funny how this stuff never gets old.

I also like the reintroduction of Peter’s #1 villain.  He was noticeably absent during the Gauntlet mega-story arc and we have all wondered what he was really up to.  I don’t want to spoil the who/what/when/where, because this issue has a lot of good “WTF?” moments, but let’s just say that this is shaping up to be a very good, standard issue Spidey story (which is what I expect when I see Mark Waid as the writer).

What’s Not So Good: I guess I shouldn’t ding the whole art for this, but if you want an example of how coloring can alter your view of art, this is a good comic to look at.  And, I’ve generally like Rodriguez’s colors in that past, so I almost wonder if this is a printing problem, but all the people in this book look either (a) abnormally tanned or (b) of the wrong ethnic background.  Even Paul Azaceta’s art isn’t immune from weirdness.  I kept fixating on the characters’ hairlines and thinking they were all wrong.  So, even though seeing Azaceta on art is usually a good thing (for me), this was kinda a miss.

Conclusion: Nothing too special, but it seems to be a good Spidey superhero story that is 100% free of sobbing MJ.  It is tempting to grade it higher, just because it isn’t OMIT, but this is pretty average.

Grade: C

– Dean Stell