Here I am again, to review the second issue of Byrne's Chapter One maxi- series. The first issue of Amazing Spider- Man, with both of its features, are combined into one here, something I personally think is a bad idea to start with. I mean, you can't take the Galactus trilogy and the Inhumans saga, for example, and say that they're one story. Or either story of ASM # 1, as we shall soon find out...
This one's called, oddly enough, Masks. That's what Byrne should hide behind, I think. We start with a scene that was footnoted about in the last issue, one of my personal pet peeves, let me tell you. Spider-Man opens a bank account. Now, this actually DID happen in the original first issue of Amazing Spider-Man, but that's no reason at all to go and place it out of chronological order in what many of the PPP have dubbed the Byrne-iverse. Spidey goes as far as to hit on a teller (which is hard to imagine Spidey doing, especially that far back when he was still somewhat unsure of himself). The Chameleon sees it and... good God, is that his face? It looks incredibly jerky, and not like the Chameleon's at all.
This time Spidey manages to get an account, but it's emptied when he needs it the most. He goes to his agent, who denies him a check or work.
We discover that the Chameleon is working for Doctor Doom. Personally, I think that the Chameleon worked better as a communist spy: and if, in Byrne's opinion, there are no more communists, why doesn't he look around. Quick Quiz: What kind of government does Cuba have? What kind of government does Iraq have? What kind of government does China have? I'll give you one guess here.
There's an interlude where we see Doctor Octopus murder some... scientists? Surgeons? We can't really tell as we're not told. We do know that they're in a facility in New Jersey. Wow, that's a lot of help.
Spidey decides to join the Fantastic Four, and this scene is actually consistent with the original. However, it's much too many pages, and it takes up some space that could be used for the actual story. Originally, the Fantastic Four appearance served as a plot point to introduce the Chameleon into Spider- Man's life; now it's just a pointless chance for John to draw the four characters that he has written for an extended time and has not inexplicably and nearly irreversibly ruined.
We also get a pointless appearance by Mary Jane. Now, Byrne maintains a retcon that angers a lot of people, and, personally, I think that the retcon was a good idea. However, the whole idea that MJ was that unseen presence that plagued Peter for a good 30 or so issues is one of the funniest bits in the Ditko-Lee run; it's just the fact that it didn't really start until a point which should probably be after this series is over that made Byrne put in the pointless appearance.
The Chameleon webs up Jameson and the rest with a webgun after sabotaging a space shuttle and allows Spidey to take the fall. Now, as to why the Chameleon would strike the Daily Bugle is beyond me; originally he stole plans from a government facility. Spidey captures Chameleon off-panel, and only actually faces him for one panel before that. This lacks the drama and the original chase that ensued in ASM #1.
Not only that, but the first Fan Four- Hulk meeting took place in issue 10, I believe, of their series. Now, is it just I or does the fact that, since Fan Four started in 1961 and ASM in 1963, that the Fan Four's first meeting with the Hulk would have happened in 1962, since it was a monthly title since the start? The Byrne-iverse stupefies me.
Spidey rushes up to the shuttle, the Excelsior, and gives the crew an undamaged board to replace the one that the Chameleon ruined. I don't know how this would work since it seems scientifically impossible: wouldn't it be easier for the Chameleon to just remove a part, which is what happened in a story (separate from the Chameleon story, I might add) in which this took place?
And, of course, Spidey gets blamed for it and becomes the public whipping boy/fall guy once more.
Byrne stepped on a lot of toes and, without so much as a wink, he changed around Marvel history and takes away a lot of the drama so as to extend the Spidey- Fan Four fight scene. And he charges us 2.50 since it has a whole 23 pages instead of 22. I give it:
1 web. Overpriced, overhyped, nonsensical plot points and lackluster "dramatic" scenes take away greatly from a book which still has solid art and nearly flawless characterization. And the pointless cameos don't help either.