Rave : 2003 : Three Things
The truth is there's very little to complain about in the Spider-Man Universe these days. Yes, all of the non-Buckingham art in Peter Parker has been dreadful but the stories have been strong. "Get Kraven" is mercifully done, the apparent last issue of Tangled Web finished the series on a high note and Straczynski, Romita Jr., Bendis, and Bagley are doing their usual superb work in their respective titles. So what does a curmudgeonly Rave writer have to complain about? Three things, all minor, but in the absence of anything else, well...
- Amazing Spider-Man Covers: Damn, but there've been some beautiful covers lately, haven't there? J. Scott Campbell and Frank Cho have provided some wonderful images while JR JR has surpassed them both, especially with ASM #45, one of the niftiest Spidey covers in quite some time. All of these covers are suitable for framing, worthy of being converted into posters... which I suspect is the point and their ultimate destination. I've liked every cover of the last twenty BUT they're almost all just poses, snapshots, Spidey cheesecake. There isn't a single cover in the bunch that really gives you a taste of what to expect in the issue, though a couple of them (like ASM #32) give you a nibble. Where are the great covers of Spidey fighting Morlun, encountering Shade, mixing it up with Carlyle, and trying to cope with the Spider-Wasp? They don't exist. In fact, the last cover to actually feature the villain was on ASM #26 spotlighting (God help us) the Squid. If you ask me, the best comic covers are the ones that make you want to open the book to see what is going to happen. These pin-ups are cool but... that's all they are.
- Letter Pages: DC Comics has announced the end of all the letter pages in their books, blaming all of us on the Net for their dissolution. This argument that fan chats have made them obsolete ignores the fact that reading a good letter page just after finishing a story is one of the pleasures of the whole comic book package. Marvel has not yet come out and said that the letter pages are extinct but Amazing Spider-Man hasn't had one since #37 (January 2002). So, if we're losing the letter page, does that mean that we're getting one more page of story instead? Well #37 with a letter page has 22 pages of story and #49 (the latest issue) without a letter page has... 22 pages of story as well. Some series, such as Ultimate Spider-Man have added a twenty-third page of text telling the reader what has taken place previously, but this could easily be integrated into the story without using an extra page for this purpose. Personally, I'd rather have the letter page but failing that, why not use the extra page for those Campbell/Cho/Romita Jr. pin-ups and give us back the story-oriented covers?
- Numbering: The surge of new sales with a rebooted #1 is several years behind us. I doubt anyone is picking up ASM now because it is issue #49 rather than issue #490. A new reboot to #1 would leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth and Marvel has already taken the step of putting both Volume 1 and Volume 2 numbers on the cover, so why not go all the way, especially with ASM #500 (old numbering) less than a year away, and dump the new numbers entirely? I haven't found anyone yet who wouldn't be in favor of doing that.
Other than that, well, everything seems to be going along fine.