Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #548

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Lots of unbelievable stuff happened in a previous arc. I'm going to assume you know all about that from this point on. Peter Parker has inadvertently caused JJJ to have a heart attack after a stand-up row in the Daily Bugle. Feeling guilty Peter has donned the Spider-Man costume for the first time since the Civil War to bring the mugger masquerading as him to justice. In the process of this he stumbles across the plot of new villain, Mr Negative, to wipe out the Karnelli and Manfredi Maggia families with a mystical nerve gas. Spidey can't prevent the massacre and gets a good whiff of the gas.

In Detail...

"Blood Ties"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #548
Mar 2008 : SMURF 548.500 : SM Title
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Steve McNiven
Inker:  Dexter Vines
Cover Art:  Steve McNiven
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Brand New Day #2
Articles: Glory Grant, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Menace, Mr. Negative

Spider awakens in a room filled with red mist. He is surrounded by dead bodies. He quickly surmises that Mr Negative must have used Bruno Karnelli's blood when he made the Devil's Breath - it only affect members of those two families. Members of hotel staff caught in the poisonous cloud are also getting to their feet, and so is one of the mobsters.

Spidey discovers that the survivor, Carmine Karnelli, was adopted. Spidey tells Carmine of his theory about the gas. Suddenly he is afraid. All their wives and children are nearby. He begs Spider-Man for help.

As Spidey swings away, Harry Osborn's limo passes by, caught in the traffic caused by the crime scene. Harry is dismayed to see Spider-Man active again. Carlie is overjoyed to see such a complex crime scene. Leaving her companions she hops out to help. She is summarily dismissed by Palone, one of the crime scene investigators. She's too green for such a complex case, even if her father was the famous Ray Cooper.

Across town, the Spider-Mugger returns to his fence to try and get Spidey's wallet back. Unfortunately, the fence doesn't think this is a good idea and is soon choking the life out of the mugger. The mugger spills the beans on everything he knows.

On his way to rescue the mobster families, Spidey runs out of web fluid (what, no spare cartridge?) Fortunately, he hitches a ride with a friendly cabbie and continues his mad dash across town. As this drama unfolds, Jonah finally wakes up from his coma. His first thought is for the Bugle, which makes Marla feel just that little bit guilty for selling all his shares. Speaking of which, new Bugle owner Dexter Bennett arrives at the paper and makes his presence felt. Short story: the guy's a jerk.

Spider-Man has arrived at the circus in Battery Park. He attempts to convince the crowd to evacuate, but to no avail – they even think the attack by Mr Negative's Inner Demons is all part of the show! Abandoning the fight, Spidey uses his spider-sense to track down the bomb that is rigged to spew Maggia- killing fumes all over a bunch of innocent kids. He propels the bomb to the far side of the tent, where it explodes over another group of kids, although this group aren't related to the two families so they won't immediately fall down dead.

As Spidey helps the mobsters to flee he is waylaid by Mr Negative who has one of the Maggia children at knife-point. Negative reveals that he wanted to wipe out the children as well as the Maggia dons so that no-one would rise to inherit their father's title. Negative also says that he only has enough ingredients for one more dose of Devil's Breath. Now that Spider-Man has made it personal, he would like to reserve that dose for him, and makes Spidey an offer: his blood for the girl.

Spidey agrees and decants a vial full of his own blood for Mr Negative. Negative is rather smug because now he can make a poison that can kill anyone in Spider-Man's family. He then uses hitherto unseen supernatural strength to throw the child he is holding into the harbour. By the time Spider-Man has retrieved her, Negative is long gone, and all Spidey has to show for it is the eternal gratitude of the mob. Lovely.

At the medical examiner's office, Carlie is delighted to be helping with the autopsy of some of the bodies from the Vandemere hotel. Unfortunately, that is not the case and she is left with a body fished out of the east river. It looks as though it has been there for some time. If this is the case, then why does the body have a spider-tracer in its mouth?

Sitting on a high building Peter muses over the last few hours. All told it has not been a banner day. Of course, Negative wasn't to know that Peter doesn't have any blood relatives, but even so the lunatic still has some of Peter's blood which can't be a good thing. He phones Aunt May. In an unexpected twist, Mr Negative is revealed to be Mr Li, Aunt May's new boos. Who'd have thunk it?

At this point Spidey gets a further blast from his Spider Sense. He has detected the tracer he left on Spider-Mugger. The mugger is dead in an alley, left there by his fence. Spidey notices the mugger is still wearing his webshooter, he quickly removes it. Of course, Spidey is spotted in this act by two cops. The first is willing to give Spidey the benefit of the doubt, the second Vin Gonzales, believes Spidey killed the guy. We'll be seeing more of Vin in successive arcs, but he can't stop Spider-Man here as the hero swings away into the darkness.

In General...

This was a good, solid issue. The plot is advancing at a pleasantly brisk pace and there is a sense of several large interconnected plots just hovering in your peripheral vision, ready for their moment in the sun. The brand new day relaunch is a slick and professional effort. Slott is obviously having a blast writing this, but he is also taking the time to signpost and acknowledge the upcoming plots of the other writers. It's too early in the day to say for sure, but if Gale, Guggenheim and Wells make the same effort as Slott then this whole thrice-monthly/Spidey-by-committee experiment will have been a success.

Unfortunately, most of the plots have been recycled from great stories of the past. We've seen Harry Osborn's enmity for Spider-Man and Jonah lose control of the Bugle many times before. I don't have time to count the number of times Aunt May has been imperilled by a passing super villain. Perhaps after almost fifty years it's inevitable that this sort of thing happens, or maybe it's a deliberate appeal to nostalgia to try and make Brand New Day work. Either way it's less imaginative than I hoped for, although I don't know whether this is a criticism that should be levelled at Slott or Quesada.

There are also problems with the timeline in this issue. The first part of this arc was set on a Friday. Jonah had a heart attack in the early hours of Saturday morning. This is still the same day. Jonah wakes up from his coma on Saturday afternoon. No more than twelve hours could have passed since Marla telephoned her lawyer, and yet she has got power of attorney and sold all JJJ's shares in the Bugle to Dexter Bennett in that time. I'm not legal expert, but that sounds a bit quick to me.

But I won't end on a sour note. I'm really liking the new characters that Slott has introduced. Carlie Cooper is a likeable love interest for Peter (now that we're back to caring about such things). Mr Negative is an excellent creation; I have a soft spot for polite villains, unapologetic for their evil, but otherwise quite amiable. All the elements are there for a memorable run on the title.

Overall Rating...

Look an entire review with me whining about One More Day! The title, the creative team and the new format have a lot of potential. I wasn't quite as blown away by this as issue #546, so I'll call it three and a half webs. Room for improvement.

Footnote...

If Marvel can have rotating creative teams then we at Spiderfan can have rotating reviewers. I'll return for Dan Slott's next arc in issue #559. Next time it's Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca's inaugural issue, and Adam will be your reviewer.