Skipping a couple of months down Spidey’s timeline has helped reinvigorate the book more than initially expected – although it’s a rather cheap way of introducing a new status quo without the trouble of actually have to write it, it has undeniably worked. And, let’s face it, it’s not like the current Spider-Man editorial team has a problem with forcing through status quo changes quickly.
That said, there’s an odd sense of gravitas being given to this arc, both in the story itself, following the introduction of Jameson as mayor, and editorially, as Joe Quesada (Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief no less!) steps in to draw the cover, that somehow isn’t present in the actual comic. It’s a Spider-Man story – not a particularly bad one – but there’s not quite the sense of occasion that the promotion of it would like us to believe there should be.
Case in point – the introduction of a new Vulture has been hyped, only ever so slightly, as something worth turning up for. When the character arrives, though, he’s a mish-mash of odd concepts resembling the previous Vulture purely in appearance. Although the design of the villain is nice and striking (particularly following a rather grotesque reveal) there’s no real hook for the character, and certainly no personality for Spidey to play off.
However, if there’s anything Amazing Spider-Man has been working to redress recently, it’s the variable quality of its initial “Brand New Day” arcs. The quality of the stories has finally levelled out at something reasonably high, and none too soon. Sales on the book make for worrying reading, especially to fans who appreciate the new direction and look forward to each new issue. It’s worth re-iterating: whatever the criticism levelled at the editorial direction, you can’t argue with results. The stories are the best they’ve been in years, but something isn’t keeping readers around. Whether it’s the lack of marriage or the thrice-monthly schedule, we don’t really know. Either way, I’ll be sad to see the formula changed, because I haven’t enjoyed Spider-Man this much, well, ever.