Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #552

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)

Story 'Just Blame Spider-Man'

Jonah is in his hospital bed pretty annoyed at being denied access to any kind of hard news, still unaware the Bugle has been sold. Meanwhile, the newly- christened DB doesn't seem to have changed too much with editor-in-chief Dexter Bennett's “Spider-Man: Serial Killer” front page. Robbie, Betty and Peter are all missing Jonah at the paper, with none of them really sure where they stand with Bennett ... and he keeps getting their names wrong!

Peter is taking pictures at the funeral of Councilwoman Parfrey (who died in 551). There are security there, though, who are none-too-happy with Peter's presence. He ends up hiding in trees to take photos of the mourners. Lots of important people involved in NYC politics are there. Lily is there with her father, who is being encouraged to run for mayor in place of Parfrey.

Later, Peter is at the shelter where May works. A thief runs off with the donations box and, after a quick change, Spider-Man sets off in pursuit. In doing so, he rips the seat of his suit leaving him a little, ahem, exposed. On a roof, he corners the thief – but the crook drops the money box to the floor. Spidey swings down to collect the money but the police show up thinking he is the thief.

Spider-Man leaves them the box and swings away, while the two officers argue over whether he's the real crook or not. The real thief has escaped across the roofs, however, before accidentally falling through a window at the top of Curt Connors' apartment. He comes across some syringes in the loft... Later on, having seemingly injected himself, the thief 'everyone calls Freak' isn't feeling too well. He vomits up some pink-red goo, which ends up enveloping him.

Elsewhere, at the King Class Club, Harry, Carlie and Peter have met up with Lily. Lily asks them to sign a pledge drive to get her father to run for mayor against Randall Crowne. Peter is concerned at what tactics Crowne could use against him if he does run. Harry pledges $10,000. Peter pledges $100, even though he works for the DB, which is a Crowne paper. Carlie crosses his name from the list.

The next morning down at “vomit alley”, Freak has evolved into some red chrysalis. Carlie is called down there to see if she knows what it is. Elsewhere, some supervillains including Bookie and Trapster also have an interest in what's in the cocoon.

Peter sees the coverage on the news and decides to go down to the site as Spider-Man. As he does, the chrysalis explodes revealing a new 'Freak', who seemingly has all his organs on the outside along with some ferocious-looking claws...

General Comments

A large part of the issue seems a bit of a rehash. Has the Bugle has been in different hands before? Yep. Has the Bugle run front pages trashing Spidey? Yep. Has the editor-in-chief wanted Spider-Man to sue him? Yep. Have the public/ police confused Spider-Man for a thief/crook? Erm, yep.

More of a redone day than a new day.

Secondly, is Peter really the kind of person who would hide in trees to take photos of mourners at a funeral? I mean, this is a funeral. Someone has been murdered and Peter is sneaking around to get pictures ... and he's the good guy!

Marvel have clearly tried to make this new Spider-Man a lot more of a 'club'. There are mentions of (Editor) Wacker, or Whack her, in the Bugle, (Publisher Dan) Buckley and Tom Brevoort are on the donor list, while Joe Quesada is mentioned of having a heart attack too. The problem is that it feels a bit too forced nowadays. This ain't the 1960s and 1970s any longer.

That said, again it's a pretty good issue. Bob Gale's use of thought balloons works really well and makes Peter feel like, well, Peter. The issue moves along what has been established in previous issues, with the mayoral candidacy looking to be a major issue. At the same time, it works fairly well to set up its own self-contained arc with Freak.

Phil Jimenez's art is clean and, in a way, almost unnoticeable in the fact that everything is just there. Perhaps the only complaint is the height of Peter's head when he's in the Spidey costume! Either way, it's definitely an improvement on the art from the previous three issues which almost detracted from the story.

Overall Rating

OK, while unspectacular. A few too many in-jokes while it's still unclear why this issue wouldn't have worked without Mary-Jane being involved in some way.

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)