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Avenging Spider-Man #21 – Review

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #21

By: Christopher Yost (Writer), Marco Checchetto (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)

The Story: Spider-Ock fights some Russians to save the Chameleon in the midst of a battle on a S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier.

The Review: With this story about Chameleon and the Secret Avengers being the first two-parter that Chris Yost has written on his tenure on this title, I had no idea just what to expect. As he had usually done done-in-one issues with a clear beginning, middle and end, I wasn’t sure if he’d still be able to pull it off in the same way he did those tight stories. Now, with the second and final part of this story being here, does Yost uses all the setup he had built up in the previous issue in an effective way?

It’s unfortunate for me to say, but no he does not. In his previous issues, Yost managed to create tight stories that gave us scenes that never outstayed their welcome and managed to have the right balance between entertainment and exposition. We knew what was happening, we got a joke or an action out of the characters and then we moved on to resolve the conflict. Here, we have some kind of unbalance where there is mainly action without much of a plot. Of course, there is some semblance of plot as the Russians soldiers charge in order to retrieve the Chameleon as he seems to know secrets that might threaten their government or perhaps something even bigger and sinister.

I say perhaps, because it is never specifically told or even explained. Rather, it is teased and hinted at by various characters in the story that he knows some things he shouldn’t. Now, I’m always up for some long-term plans in books, to provide us with various sub-plots to follow, making us want to invest our time into discovering things or seeing a situation evolve. However, it is not only weird for Yost to begins one right there in the first two-part story he did on this title, it is even more so when he does not even conclude it here. He did introduce an ongoing subplot where Spider-Ock retrieves the member of the Sinister Six for reasons that still elude us, which is a slow burn that is intriguing, to say the least. It’s just a shame that he builds up a whole situation and a reveal that unfortunately never comes in a two issues story.

There is also the fact that the action, a lot of the time, is paced a bit poorly. To Yost credits, he does match the tone of total chaos going on in the helicarrier as people are escaping while various uncontrollable elements such as the Russians and the Hulk wreak havoc. However, it does make for an uneven comic when Spider-Ock receives so little action or so little to do in the comic. I do get that this is a team-up book, yet Spider-Ock is close to inconsequential as the spotlight is divided between the various members of S.H.I.E.L.D and some of the Secret Avengers. If there are some silver linings in this issue, it would reside in two areas, the first one being the humor. I do like the fact that while the main Spider-Man book lacks a little bit in that department, Avenging Spider-Man tries to fill that role with some of the dialogue.

The other silver lining would be the art of Marco Checchetto who really brings the chaos here to life. Most of his panels are packed with details, either with various background characters or through various elements. One thing he does give us is a true sense of depth in various panels, which is easier said than done. It takes skills to properly give us simulate distance in a way that truly count and add to the experience, which Checchetto does admirably. He also does very well with certain characters that had various different styles along the years, as his Hulk is nothing short of astounding.

What is also admirable in many ways would be Rachelle Rosenberg and her work trying to liven up the comic. A comic with most of the action in a helicarrier could have ended up as being a rather dull affair in terms of colors. Thankfully, there is a rich diversity thanks to her color work and to the script. Low light panels, energy blasts and kinetic background does enhance the pace of the action and the effect it has a tad.

The Conclusion: While the plot does not take advantage of everything it could and the action ends up taking up close to everything in a rather chaotic way, we still manage to get a somewhat decent comic thanks to Checchetto, Rosenberg and some of the humor placed in this issue.

Grade: C+

Hugo Robberts Larivière

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