Friday, 26 May 2017

The Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Volume 1 Review (Dan Slott, Steve McNiven)

After J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada took a big steaming dump on Spider-Man with One More Day, Dan Slott was parachuted in to clear up their mess with Brand New Day. Which he did pretty well, largely by ignoring the preceding nonsense, though some of the retconning sticks out awkwardly - Civil War still happened but somehow nobody remembers that Peter is Spidey despite his unmasking being the most memorable scene in that dismal storyline! 

In Brand New Day, powerful new villain Mister Negative is using a magic tablet of glowing glyphs to kill mobsters for some mysterious reason while yet another derivative Green Goblin wannabe equally creatively called Menace is making a, um, menace of himself! A new hero called Jackpot (who looks and sounds suspiciously like MJ) has popped up and a street-level hood wearing a Spidey mask is mugging folks. Time for Peter Parker to be Spider-Man again, damn the Superhero Registration Act! 

While I never (nor ever will) read Straczynski’s much-maligned Spidey run, I have read some of his appalling DC books so I believe it when I hear that his Spider-Man was absolutely shite. And, even though Slott’s story is somewhat plodding and overloaded with exposition because of the many readjustments he had to make to the Spidey-verse - Harry Osborn wasn’t dead after all, he was just on an extended holiday in Europe! - I think by far the best thing about Brand New Day for many is that it’s not JMS’s Spidey. 

Not that Slott’s doing anything especially new - Spidey fights familiar villains, has familiar money issues, and has familiar romantic entanglements – but I think a lot of readers find that familiarity comforting, particularly contrasted against JMS’s crap. And Slott does write it well, making you feel like you’re reading classic Spider-Man. I also liked how Spidey has to improvise on the fly, first losing a web-shooter, then running out of web-fluid – that kind of inventive adversity makes for more interesting stories. Steve McNiven’s art is very easy on the eyes too and the villains, while not especially original, aren’t bad either, challenging him and shaking off the Webslinger’s cobwebs during his (then-recent) downtime. 

Conversely, Slott’s reinstatement of most of the status quo also makes for a fairly standard and unexciting Spider-Man book. It’s not a bad read but I was never gripped either – it’s all very predictable and if you’ve read a bunch of Spider-Man before you’ve already seen scenes like these several times already. And I really hated the Civil War aftermath with all that stupid Superhero Registration Act bollocks that unfortunately runs through this one. 

If you’re after a decent Spider-Man book, you could do worse than Brand New Day, Volume 1 but it’s also not a must-read for anyone except the fans.

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