Rave : 2003 : ASM #55 - An Alternate Take

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I haven't felt persuaded to write a rant to you guys since, well, since Mr. English's reviews of Zeb Wells' work on PP irked me badly enough to write in (and I'm very grateful he wrote me back) - which wasn't that long ago, come to think of it. Well, consider yourself lucky, spidermad (if indeed that is your true name). 'Cause this rant's for you!

What am I ranting about? The most recent review for Amazing Spider-man, specifically issue 55. I really disliked this issue, but you gave if 4.5 webs. I still don't see where anything shines in this book (or part 2 of what should have been limited to a one book story). From the instant I opened the book, I could tell immediately that Mr. Straczynski didn't write it. The dialogue, while not horrible, was a tad weak. I would've overlooked it if there was a decent story. But there wasn't.

It's a rehash of a story I've seen before. Which one, I couldn't say. But I'm quite certain that Spidey has dealt with the consequences of his actions more times than I can count. Of course, he acts all surprised this issue, as if he never realized that the things he does aren't always positive. Silly Spidey. What about Gwen's death? And the break-up with MJ? I'm not a Spidey history buff, but I'm sure there are many more situations where Spidey's realized this lesson, ones that are more tragic, better plotted and better written. This was not new. Nor was the story about Pete trying to help a messed-up kid in his school. Sorry, but how many kids are so screwed up that they need a super hero's intervention? Well, it is New York. But I'm tired of this song and dance, especially the "she's smart and has potential, but doesn't use it" blah blah blah. Was the fact that the girl's brother was some poor schmuck that Spidey got thrown in jail supposed to be shocking? Was it supposed to stir an emotion? Because it didn't. I didn't care too much. Peter just met this girl a few hours ago! I never really cared about her, let alone her brother. I just thought it was cheesy. Too coincidental. It was smooshed into one issue instead of being drawn out by introducing the character first, then making the big revelation later on down the line. It would have been more powerful, I'm sure. Whether I would have liked it better, I'm not sure. But since Ms. Avery was only writing this and the next iss, it had to be condensed. I'd be mighty surprised if Mr. Straczynski really had any say in these books. If so, for shame. What a recycled plot.

The whole incident with hunting down the guys who tried to rob the girl was unnecessary and ridiculous. You could just tell Ms. Avery needed a couple pages to fill. Do these crooks even play into the mangled plot of either issues? I'm not an expert on criminal activities, but looking over this book again, am I to understand that the guy who set up the robbery was the landlord? I can buy that, but it still has no relevance to the plot, except to reveal that Melissa lives in a bad neighborhood, which could've been revealed without going through such ordeals. Like I said, a couple more pages needed to be filled and a ruffing up of bad guys was sufficient enough to do it.

Reintroducing Ezekiel seemed so forced. It's not even shocking to see him anymore. He's practically a regular. He doesn't seem to have any connection with the story (of course, that's disproved in the rather confusing and inane conclusion). I chuckled when I came to the last page and saw the words "To be continued ...." Continue what? There wasn't a story worth telling in the one book in the first place, let alone in a second!

And, please, don't get me started on part 2. What was the whole Ezekiel connection with smart criminals? Was it supposed to make sense? And about Melissa. I still don't care about her. She's a 2-D character, same as a lot of his students. Has potential, doesn't apply it. I'm sure we'll never see her again, which makes her a throw-away. No wonder I didn't care.

And doesn't Spidey's web disintegrate after an hour? Maybe I'm wrong on that one. Still doesn't Melissa have a friggin' door?

And am I to understand that if her brother wasn't (a) doing what he did before or (b) going to worse crime circles, then he's automatically in this six-person gang run by Ezekiel? Aren't there other options? I'm sure there are, but plot-wise, they weren't important. Which annoys me. Avery took the easy way out. And I don't care if you read a lot of books. Yes, you may be smarter, but I hardly believe that you choose not to use contractions as if they're dirty words. What is Ezekiel little scheme here? We'll probably never know. Nor do I care. The entire story was pointless.

And what was the lesson at the end of the day? Peter learns that he has to reform every villain he's ever locked up to clear his conscious? That's what it sounds like to me, based on that last line. Or maybe he's just going to see how they're doing. Actually, he'll never do any of that. He doesn't remember one person he tossed away. He only learned about this one through hap and circumstance. Let's face it: Josh should have gone to jail. If it affects that person's family (which it probably will) what's Spider man going to do about it? He can't save everyone! No, there's not always a clear-cut right or wrong. But you break the law, you get in trouble. Sorry.

I can't describe the disdain I have for these two stories. Nothing happened. At the end of the day we get a girl who nobody cares about reconciling with her brother who nobody cares about. Which makes a story nobody cares about. Ezekiel was pointlessly tossed in as if to teach Spidey a lesson. Whatever this stupid little gang of intellectual thugs is doing, I've got no idea. Neither did Ms. Avery, I'm sure. Thank goodness her run only spanned two issues and not many like Mr. Wells' did.

Honestly, the first book deserved one web at that most, for the art. The story was unoriginal. The writing off. The character development non existent. The plot lame. The story development a joke. See where I'm going with this? Nothing was done right starting from the beginning when it was thought that another Peter helps his student story mixed with another Spidey realizes his actions have consequences stories would be interesting or original.

Half a web, I say, at most for the second issue, which just took the story further down its steady spiral.

Two issues that ultimately leave you unsatisfied and unclear why you read them. There are better stories that deal with the same issues. Much better stories. And I'm tired of reading the same thing over again, especially when its done so much more poorly this time around.

Well, that ends my rant. I still can't believe it, though. 4.5 webs? Are you sure? Okay, if you say so. I still don't buy it. Every story that Mr. Straczynski had done so far was ten times better than this one, in my opinion.

[Spidermad Responds...]

I'll have to agree to disagree with you on most points. I thought the scripting was okay and that the dialogue was pretty good. In fact the way you feel about this storyline is the way I felt about the Shathra and to a lesser extent, the Digger storyline!

I must agree that Ezekial being involved is silly and the second issue is definitely weaker, that smart criminal stuff is pretty stupid and doesn't make sense.

On the 'has Spidey done this before' side of things. I thought it was original enough. There's definitely a lot less stories like this in Spidey's canon when compared to the 'villain of the day' type of issues. I thought it posed the question of whether jail is always the right answer and just got Spidey to question whether his methods are always inline with his intent. I agree that this and the character Melissa probably won't be explored further, which is a shame.

I do disagree on JMS not being involved. While the writing was different to the norm, the fact that Ezekial appears and is involved seems to point JMS.