One of the questions that arose following the continuity change-up of Brand New Day centered on exactly how Spider-Man’s secret identity got put back under wraps, and who knew it – with particular emphasis on Spidey’s friends, such as Daredevil and Johnny Storm. Readers found out about Daredevil fairly early on, but despite editorial insistance that no-one knows his identity, the degree to which Spider-Man and Torch’s friendship was altered has remained a mystery – until now. The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem.
Dan Slott has been – at least if you ask Comics Daily writers – the most consistent Spider-Man writer since the move to thrice-monthly shipping was completed, and having previously written a Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries, it’s fitting that he handles this 2-issue story focusing on the characters. Having proven he can write a good Spidey, Slott now auditions himself for Fantastic Four, opting to pen a classic F4 tale of adventure and exploration that simply happens to have Spider-Man in.
While the character interplay and dialogue are Slott’s strong points (never more evident than in his Torch/Spidey banter) he also shows he’s not above some old-school Stan Lee-style plotting as the 5 heroes hop in Reed’s latest experimental craft and visit the “Macroverse”. Complementing Slott’s writing, Kitson’s art has a clean, classic look well-suited to both the F4 and Spider-Man, and that itself makes the flashback portions of the story (which reference a previously unseen team-up) fit just that extra little bit better.
If there’s any problem with the issue, it’s in the structure, which ends on not one, but two cliffhangers – both of which are immediately predictable. Now, in fairness, it’s difficult to end every issue on something that’ll excite jaded, grown-up fans, but it’s a brave writer indeed who ends on two cliffhangers that anyone over the age of 12 could predict the resolution for. There’s the chance Slott will throw a curveball and bring something unexpected to the next issue, but more likely he’s just going to pick up the story seamlessly, so that it reads fine without a break when it gets collected. That, at least, is forgivable, and thankfully the issue isn’t too marred overall.