By: Dan Slott (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Artist), Victor Olazaba (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Color Artist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)

The Story:
Some problems can be avoided by cookies, others compounded by Electro

The Review:
The second issue picks up immediately after the first, and contains the same manic energy we’ve come to expect from a Peter Parker Spider-Man. Much of the energy comes from Ramos’ art, which perfectly suits the momentum that continues to propel Parker/Spider-Man through the various sequences of the book.

There’s a fight scene with Electro here, of course, but actually it’s only 4 pages in total. And yet, the issue does not feel like there is a slack in narrative momentum at all. Even in the “down time” that sandwiches the downtown battle is presented with dramatic art. Characters are shown in expressive close-up when appropriate, but also allowed to have dramatic, establishing positions as well, such as Parker’s full-body shot against negative space as Anna Maria leaves him. The sequential nature of the panels are used effectively, too, in that same scene: a hand on a doorknob– a full-body, isolated pose– a quick peek back in– then a door shut on a shadowed face. The timing of Electro’s power going out of control is through the timing of the panels: Zzzttkk, then Pok, then Pop, then Pksh, until … Ttssss.

Unfortunately, the battle scene, while kinetic, verges on being incomprehensible, as the colors do not capitalize on Ramos’ strengths here. The lightning of Electro’s powers are left white and glowing, but it obscures Electro’s figure and becomes confusing when Ramos shifts the composition angle from panel to panel. Perhaps that’s intentional, as Electro would, if you think about it, be quite blinding to look at in “real life,” but I’d rather be able to read the art. The effect might also be different on paper, but as I was reading on a tablet screen, the effect was particularly pronounced.

Also, I have to criticize Ramos’ panels of Anna Maria. Her depiction is just fine taken on its own, but there does not seem to be a handle on her size relationship to other things in each panel. Sometimes, she’s chest-high to Peter, other times elbow, or lower, and it shifts even within the same page. Her context within the panel would seem to require more deliberate compositioning, but too often (as with most artists) there is a “default” panel view which is to keep characters “eye level” despite the problem being, of course, that now there are characters to have very different eye levels.

Overall, I really admire a lot of Slott’s plot choices here. He’s picking up on things that could have been one-off drops of plot in issue one and weaving them into actual plot threads, such as Spider-Man’s meet up with the Human Torch, and his interaction with the Avengers. (Although some supporting characters are starting to get short shrift. Sajani, for example, is essentially being reduced to someone who stands around in the background occasionally stamping her foot and whining, “Par–rker!”) Slott is also not taking some “easy ways” out, like abandoning Anna Maria entirely or, what I was expecting, turning her into a supervillain. I mean, she MAY turn out to be a supervillain eventually, but if this issue is any indication, it will be something developed, organically, progressively, and therefore more “logically.”

I’m not sure “logic” has anything to do with Parker’s cliffhanger decision, however. Chalk this one up to “Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time,” but it does make you want to tune in to see what happens.

The Bottom Line:
There’s a range from “good” to “questionable” to the art, but otherwise it helps sell the idea that Spider-Man’s world has never felt very “safe” for some time. And there’s no sign of that slowing, with fallout continuing to spin out of Doc Ock’ time as Spider-Man. Plot elements are developing in organic ways, and never exactly how you’d expect, continuing to make the main characters intriguing to follow.

The Grade: B+

-Danny Wall

Three More Tidbits:
— You know what? Johnny Storm is pretty wise. “You’re lucky he didn’t give you a bowl cut” indeed.
— Electro’s “girlfriend” is some kind of supervillain junkie. She has oversized prints of villain’s headshots framed on the wall and bookcase. Where, exactly, does she get these? I’m guessing the Marvel version of Spenser’s or Hot Topic.
— “Come in and plug in.” Uh, is that a euphemism?