We all have some pet peeves when it comes to our entertainment, those little things that are just SO ANNOYING and yet for some reason writers/creators continue to do them! For live-action hero shows, I peevily hate whenever a character has to introduce himself, especially with voiceover. “My name is …”  Ugh.

Well, the other great peeve of mine is whenever characters are forced to talk to each other for extended dialogues over the phone or wireless. (Yes, Person of Interest, I’m talking about you, too.) Unfortunately, this issue makes use of this for nearly two-thirds of the entire book. Now, I do love fight scenes, so the fact that we get a very extended fight scene during this same time may have saved this issue from an unfortunate trope, but wait– by and large, most of the dialogue is all mere exposition, a way to return to characters and situations that have been shunted aside during the previous issues’ Spider-Verse event. My peeves get the trump, and it all earns a tic in the “Minus” column.

The fight with the Iguana is full of the vibrant art that Humberto Ramos can do so well. From the very first page with a dramatic and striking picture of a snake, the art almost moves it’s so kinetic. Spider-Man’s poses are nicely dynamic and distorted, as appropriate to his otherworldliness, which is of course in contrast to his dilemma that is so mundane– being late for work. There are a few places when the art is too distorted for its own good, though. More than a few times will characters’ legs go missing or be conveniently hidden. One panel in particular has the Iguana nearly hidden in the background from his own tail and a convenient sound effect. Ramos continues to be wildly inconsistent when drawing Anna Marie. His choice of panels and layouts are often twisted and turned in their angles, but rarely do they fit someone who isn’t of typical stature, resulting in an Anna Marie who must be playing with Pym Particles in her spare time.

Strangely, we have no context for Spider-Man’s fight with the Iguana, which is at odds to his desire elsewhere, when he talks about how he wants his company to build a prison to help rehabilitate criminals. Usually we see better parallels between the A and B plots, as it were. Or maybe the letter I was hit on the dartboard during brainstorming. I am looking forward to the Ghost showing up next issue. That last page may not be a cliffhanger for anyone who didn’t read the Heroic Age version of The Thunderbolts (circa 2010), but even so, it’s exciting to see some new villains challenge Spider-Man for a change.

For some reason, the comic is split narratively between Spider-Man and the Black Cat, even though the creative team is the same. This has happened before in this series, and I’m not sure why it can’t just be a subplot or even just interspersed through the main story.

And I’m sorry, but if this is an attempt to return to a post-“Superior” era Black Cat, it’s not working. There was an empathy readers could have with the original debutante-turned-cat burglar, but it doesn’t really work to have it go the other direction. I would like to be optimistic about it, to read into the story that the Cat is realizing her decision to become a master criminal was a wrong one and it’s affecting her powers as a symbol of how it’s affecting her emotional core, and it might be interesting to see a character acknowledge a mistake and work through the consequences. I mean, I would LIKE to be optimistic, but I’m sometimes too silly that way.    

Grade

C-

Conclusion

For some reason, the series tries to force its way back into a status quo rather than develop its way there, and it relies on some tired, cliché, and downright lazy writing tropes to do so. Few of the supporting characters seem sympathetic or likeable, and ditto for the Black Cat, the lead character in the secondary story. The art remains exciting, even if it seems cheating a bit at times.