Amazing Spider-Man #575


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Amazing Spider-Man #575


  • Words: Joe Kelly
  • Art: Chris Bachalo
  • Inks: Tim Townsend
  • Colors: Bachalo & Fabela
  • Story Title: Family Ties
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Oct 29, 2008

Hammerhead has become a real threat and he butts in on a Spidey intervention.

Family Ties is the title of this story and there is lots of talk about what family is in this issue. It is a bit ironic, given the origins of the whole Brand New Day concept. By the way, Brand New Day seems to be in full swing again after the mega successful New Ways to Die as the story is pushed forward here and in this week’s Amazing Spider-man Annual #1.

After his \\"death\\" in Civil War, Hammerhead was resurrected by the webswinger’s new nemesis, Mr. Negative. With a new skeleton, the hood is fairly indestructible and is trying to live down his intellectual reputation. Gone are the anachronistic gangster talk from a 30\\'s movie. Hammerhead is looking to change the perception that he is someone that even thug 1 and 2 get to laugh at.

The action at the heart of this issue is centered around the villain’s beef with a local urban gang. We don’t know how the beef started or why Hammerhead cares about such small timers. The conceit is that it exists and it allows our wall crawling hero to have a relevant adventure.

Social relevance in comics is a tricky thing. Something like Vertigo’s relaunch of The Unknown Soldier which handles explosions and political realism in an effective manner are few and far between. Most of the time in comics, it comes of as an after-school special and not a particularly well made one or even worse it can be oddly creepy like a certain Spider-Man PSA from my youth.

Spider-Man is one of those books that has always had a bit of relevance in its stories, whether it be the break the gang cycle story here or the drug problems of young Harry. As with the past attempts, it is a bit of a mixed bag here. Kelly writes compelling characters despite the cliches of the urban poverty protection cycle. These devices would break the story, if not for a light hearted scared straight scene gone awry. The scene between the webhead and his new project, Harold, is a bit of crafty writing. It is completely in character for our wise cracking hero while casting aside the facade of the story’s theme. It relieves the pressures of being serious and preachy while acknowledging that it has taken the tone.

Kelly hits most of the book pitch perfect though. He nails the fun of Peter Parker’s smart alecky dialogue and the absurdity of masked villains. All the while he is deftly playing both to those who are steeped in spandex laden mythology and those that would scoff at it. There are some stumbles along the way. The biggest being an unclarity in the nature of the relationship between Peter and a new journalist at Frontline. How do they end up on the same assignment anyhow? Even though that moment produces some head scratching, it is all forgiven with the new terrifying version of Hammerhead.

Bachalo is one of those divisive artists. For the most part, people either love him or hate him. I am a big fan of striking styles. So I fall firmly in the first group. However, I am aware of his shortcomings.

Like Ramos, Bachalo seems to work better with some writers more then others. While I found his work on Carey’s X-Men to be sloppy and his storytelling muddled, here I find it is not difficult to determine what is going on in a panel. There are some inconsistencies present though. In fact at one point, Peter seems to be showing the beginning stages of an adverse reaction to shellfish.

The penciller does his best work with gadgets and wild character designs. The opening of this issue with its cyber punk lab rat, monstrous homeless woman, and glider riding dredlocked clowns is where his style is the most striking. Given the splattered violence of the Hammerhead scenes later on, there is much in the script that plays to his strengths. So a forgiving reader may forgive the bloated face here or there.

This is a strong entry that realizes its preachiness before it is undone by it. It is a strong series debut for a writer who is seeing his craft only get better with each new script. It is also as good an entry point to this already sprawling story as new readers are likely to find.

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