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  1. #151
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man Unlimited #19
    This was the one Lizard story from the intermediate era, which was something I was looking forward to at the time since heís my favorite supervillain. It feels generic, although it does build on the characterís history. Itís one of those comics people point to when they say that the Lizard doesnít work very well as a recurring bad guy.
    Peter and MJ visit Florida for a working vacation as Ben Urich investigates some local crime involving minor bad guy the Slug. Curt Connors is up to something, and Spidey catches his son Billy committing larceny. Various figures do stupid things, possibly because their lizard brains were manipulated. It all ends in a showdown between Spider-Man, the Lizard and lots of thugs outside the Miami reservoir, as the Lizard tries to infect everyone else.
    Bennetís got a decent take on the Lizard, but his art doesnít work for me as well here as it does in issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Itís kind of convenient how the Connors have become part of Peterís social circle, but I like MJ and Martha Connors as friends. Itís a bit meh.
    B-



    What If? #105
    Itís likely that the most consequential story of the intermediate era was this What If? Issue by Tom Defalco, Ron Frenz and Bill Sienkiewicz showing how things could have gone differently. What if Mary Jane had never lost the baby, and Spider-Man had a Spider-Girl?
    Spider-Manís been retired for nearly 15 years after losing his leg in a battle with Norman Osborn. Mayday Parker demonstrates extraordinary ability in a high school basketball game, and her parents are suspicious that she may have inherited her fatherís abilities. A new Green Goblin attacks Mayday and her family, as the now grown-up Normie Osborn seeks revenge. Mayday discovers her legacy, while a crippled Peter Parker prepares for one final battle.

    I donít know if this was the intent, but itís an excellent pilot. The MC2 world is already fully realized. Mayday has a supporting cast, and ongoing drama. We get cameos of Juggernautís son, the Fantastic Five and the Avengers of the future.
    Frenzís art (especially with Sienkiewicz on inks) is a bit darker than Iím used to with the MCU but it works in this story which is about a middle-aged Peter Parker, as much as it is his teenaged daughter.
    A+
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  2. #152
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Sensational Spider-Man #24
    Itís a bit distracting to have a Holiday special given multiple Christmas stories the previous year (which with the sliding timescale, would only have been a few months earlier.) Peterís trying to get Christmas presents for the people in his life, which is complicated by the bounty on Spider-Man and a paranoid Hydroman. He also realizes that he hasnít been as nice to overly enthusiastic coworker Billy.
    Todd Nauck is a guest artist, and heíll go on to have a major career as a Spider-Man artist, including illustrating the best-selling Spider-Man comics of the 2000s- the Obama story. He captures the Christmas setting and a palpable sense of joy. But some of his characters look like dwarves.

    Itís a cute enough story of Christmas sneaking up on a superhero. Itís just pleasant.
    B



    Marvel Team Up #7
    This is a rare Marv Wolfman return to Spider-Man (the other example was the Dracula story in Spider-Man Team-Up.) A vampire murders a custodian at ESU. Spider-Man overcomes him, and sends him to jail, but Blade wants to finish the vampire, except for some reason this guy is immune to sunlight. Blade breaks him out of jail, which pits Spider-Man against the vampire hunter.
    This is the first 616 team-up between Blade and Spider-Man, which is a bit surprising given Bladeís role in the 1990s animated series. I have some pet peeves about how easily Spider-Man stumbles into trouble here. Someone he knows happens to be murdered when Peter Parker is nearby (I do buy the idea that Peter Parker might be reasonably close to a custodian who has never been mentioned in another Spider-Man comic.) Later, he goes to New Orleans because all he knows is that Blade is from there and he just happens across a vampire crime scene.
    The best moments involve the villain, whose story is legitimately interesting, a vampire who remembers his humanity, and then realizes itís a side effect of whatever allows him to be out in sunlight. Artist Tom Denerickís style is a good fit for a vampire story.
    B
    The rest of this edition of Marvel Team-Up explores Namorís journey.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  3. #153
    Astonishing Member kingaliencracker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daibhidh View Post
    As I understand it, Glorious Godfrey was based on another publisher and editor-in-chief connected to the Spider-Office. But then I don't know to what extent Ditko based JJJ on Stan Lee without Lee realising it.
    I thought he was based on Billy Graham?

  4. #154
    Astonishing Member CaptainUniverse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    What If? #105
    Itís likely that the most consequential story of the intermediate era was this What If? Issue by Tom Defalco, Ron Frenz and Bill Sienkiewicz showing how things could have gone differently. What if Mary Jane had never lost the baby, and Spider-Man had a Spider-Girl?
    Spider-Manís been retired for nearly 15 years after losing his leg in a battle with Norman Osborn. Mayday Parker demonstrates extraordinary ability in a high school basketball game, and her parents are suspicious that she may have inherited her fatherís abilities. A new Green Goblin attacks Mayday and her family, as the now grown-up Normie Osborn seeks revenge. Mayday discovers her legacy, while a crippled Peter Parker prepares for one final battle.

    I donít know if this was the intent, but itís an excellent pilot. The MC2 world is already fully realized. Mayday has a supporting cast, and ongoing drama. We get cameos of Juggernautís son, the Fantastic Five and the Avengers of the future.
    Frenzís art (especially with Sienkiewicz on inks) is a bit darker than Iím used to with the MCU but it works in this story which is about a middle-aged Peter Parker, as much as it is his teenaged daughter.
    A+
    Speaking of Spider-Girl, the new Spider-Girl Modern Era Epic Collection is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released in March. So, if you haven't read Spider-Girl yet, you can get started with Volume 1.
    "The Enigma Force is not a tool to be manipulated by mortals. The Enigma Force comes to those it deems worthy. What temerity, what arrogance, makes you think you are worthy? Have you not all made mistakes? Unforgiveable ones?" - Captain Universe

    "Call me an Avenging Angel, Baron, come to safeguard Earth...call me CAPTAIN UNIVERSE!" - Ray Coffin

    "You're my heart, Mary Jane Watson...you're my jackpot." - Peter Parker

  5. #155
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Peter Parker Spider-Man #88
    In the prelude to Spider-Hunt, local career criminal Joey Z is found by police, webbed up. The difference from what usually happens is that heís dead, so Spidey is once again the suspect in a murder (this was the basis of the mini-series "Web of Doom" a few years earlier.) Spider-Man also keeps seeing the Green Goblin, leading Peter to confront Norman Osborn for the first time he was baited into beating the holy hell out of his arch-enemy in front of cameras.
    This is probably my favorite issues of the Mackie/ Byrne run so far. The serious tone fits Romita Jrís style- Mackie has a decent sense of Norman Osbornís voice and what makes him Spider-Manís archenemy- this will come to dominate the rest of the run until the Gathering of the Five/ Final Chapter. I like small details like the matter of fact way the cops respond to webbed up crooks, or Jonah getting an exclusive because of a contact at the Medical Examinerís office. The motif of the mystery goblin is effective.
    Unfortunately, this is a set-up with awful payoff. The mystery of the new Green Goblin, unresolved questions about Joey Z and the seeds of the Gathering of the Five all lead to bad places. But it's a decent prologue.
    A-



    Spectacular Spider-Man #254
    Spider-Man is tortured by Dr. Angst and flashes to recent developments like Bugle turmoil- it straddles the line between repeating whatís going on in other titles and showing the continuing consequences before Spider-Hunt. There are some glaring errors like Norman Osborn telling Peter about the death of Joey Z, when they both came to the crime scene in Peter Parker Spider-Man #88. This is inevitable with different writers and artists working on the same character, in the days before Google Drive and other programs made it easier to collaborate on these kinds of projects. I get why it happened, and why it will keep happening, but itís so distracting.
    Some major developments occur at the Bugle, and I do like the sense that itís chaotic and thereís legitimate disagreement- Ben Urich doesnít know whatís going on, Jacob Conover is ecstatic that the Bugleís got more money so his coworkersí jobs are secure.

    DeFalco writes over DeMatteisí plot and thereís a difference in sensibility. The most DeMatteis moment is a glimpse into Spideyís mind as he recalls the trauma of his parentsí death. Luke Rossí work is solid- maybe heís a better fit for DeFalco. The story is a bit of a mishmash, with flashbacks leading to an explanation of how Spider-Man gets electrified on a helicopter. Thereís a decent twist involving seemingly generic enemy Sir, a henchman who starts thinking for himself..
    B
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  6. #156
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Hunt (Sensational Spider-Man #25/ Peter Parker Spider-Man #89/ Amazing Spider-Man #432/ Spectacular Spider-Man #255)
    Up until this point, the Spider-Man comics had stayed clear of major crossovers, so this story does feel earned. Unfortunately, it’s going to be followed by the Identity Crisis pseudo-crossover, and then every title has about three issues to tie up loose ends before the Gathering of the Five ties up Volume 1. And then Howard Mackie takes over both major Spider-Man titles. So, a roughly one year period after the Clone Saga when individual titles were somewhat independent collapses.
    A lot of people have decided to go for the bounty on Spider-Man, including Overdrive and Aura from the Clone Saga, Shotgun (a John Romita Jr cocreation who popped up in the Randy/ Janice wedding issue a few months back) and ordinary shmucks who may be the most dangerous of all. This complicates Spider-Man’s regular superheroing. A C-lister is seriously injured in a battle royale, while a new Green Goblin targets Norman Osborn and kidnaps his grandson Normie. Later sequences feature the first fight between Spdier-Man and mystery villain the Black Tarantula, the return of Ben Reilly buddy Jimmy 6, the arrival of an amnesiac Punisher and a bookkeeper who may have the most compelling story when he gets the opportunity to turn in Spider-Man and make himself rich.

    It gets a bit repetitive as we revisit all the major players, and get multiple versions of scenes like Robbie Robertson quitting the Daily Bugle, with the unfortunate sense that the writers and artists don’t know what’s going on in the other books. Mary Jane may have some of the best moments with her frustration about everything her husband has to go through.
    There’s a bit of an artist shuffle. Joe Bennet who typically illustrates Amazing Spider-Man does Sensational Spider-Man, while John Romita Jr does an issue of Amazing Spider-Man (If you’re going to have a crime war crossover, it makes sense to have as much Romita Jr art as possible.) I don't know if it was scheduling, a way to make sure that the three artists are treated equally (Romita Jr had the two issues while Ross & Bennet had the double-sided bookends.)
    B-


    At this point, I have a sense of the normal for the era. One note is that the comics are usually solid. The typical Spider-Man comic at this time gets a “B” from me. This arc's below-average for the period, and it's not that bad.
    But I think Peter Parker is splintered in too many styles. It’s rare for him to have a compelling story, and it’s rarer still for Spider-Man to have a compelling arc, beyond just beating up a bad guy. With this storyline, there really isn’t much of a story for Peter beyond MJ thinking that it’s time for him to give up.
    One thing that’s also hard to articulate when reviewing all the stories is the context of the time. There are some comics that read better because you know how it ends, and because it’s no longer the definitive new adventures of Spider-Man. It’s all part of the history, so if something’s missing you can get it elsewhere. I can understand fans reacting differently when these are the only new Spider-Man comics.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post

    Like you, I felt this arc was good, not great. The bad guys (and ordinary citizens) hunting down Spidey got repetitive as it seems the various writers didnít trade notes enough to avoid redundant scenes. But I love that last page of Sensational above, especially that chilling line from Mary Jane. Thatís how you write a badass MJ.

  8. #158
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Spider-Man: the Venom Agenda
    Iím not sure why weíve got this one-shot by Larry Hama pitting Spider-Man against Venom, published at the same time as a mini-series which pits Spider-Man against Venom.
    Spidey has a cold. Eddie Brockís handlers send him to assassinate J Jonah Jameson, mainly due to how he handled Bastion in an X-Man comic (which to be fair is one of the best Iíve read for the era.) Tom Lyle is on art- he's not one of my favorites although heís been around for a while. The twist is that Venomís handlers realize he may have misinterpreted vague orders to scare Jonah as a demand to finish him- that is simultaneously astonishingly stupid but plausible. Itís a development that makes it clear that writer Larry Hama does not like Eddie Brock, and thinks the antihero is full of shit.
    It rubs me the wrong way when a comic this mediocre has its own variation of the rubble scene from the Master Planner saga. And it ends in such a clumsy fashion.
    It seems pointless, and a waste of everyoneís time, including the readerís. I donít like the execution. I think if youíre making these kinds of implications about how the government works, you shouldnít be so clumsy. Itís a waste of a Spider-Man VS Venom fight, and reflective of how badly one of Spider-Manís top foes was mistreated at this time.
    Oddly, it seems to be ten bucks online. It made a CBR top ten list of Venom comics, so it may have fans.
    D



    Venom: The Finale #1-3
    The opening splash pages followed by double-page spreads for each chapter brings it home that the Venom books are more 90s than the typical Spider-Man comics. Artist Mark Parajillo seems like an Image clone (although he has an okay take on Spidey.) The committee that Venomís worked for two mini-series and a one-shot decides to take him out, in a way that just seems cynical and clumsy. When Venom goes on a rampage, Spider-Man goes to stop him. Although first Venom has to deal with generic superhero Stentor who just shows up to tackle him in the second issue. Iím not sure what was going on there. Did Larry Hama need to pad a few pages? Was this character with sound-based powers planned for a different story before the Venom series was canceled?
    Thereís a new dynamic with Venom forgetting who Spider-Man is, but that just makes the showdown less meaningful. And then Venom remembers again, which makes the Venom agenda developments more pointless. Hama tries to sell the idea that this battle is meaningful, as the first time Spider-Man defeated Venom, but that doesnít quite match with some classic comics.

    This is a misfire on so many levels. If they were going to have a final Venom VS Spider-Man showdown, why not have it in the pages of the Spider-Man comics? Hell, it could have tied into Spider-Hunt with Norman Osborn persuading the government to send Venom after Spidey.
    One thing I appreciate from reading the Venom comics is that it does show that the regular Spider-Man comics at this time were usually pretty decent. When I was doing a thread on the current run, there was a question about what comics I don't like because my reviews were generally positive. This would be an example. I just don't understand anyone who thinks it's better, unless your tastes run to something edgier or primitive (I don't mean this as an insult- the people who really like Fletcher Hanks might be on board with this.)
    D
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  9. #159
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    Larry Hama did good work on the G.I. Joe comic but his Venom minis were all pretty awful.

  10. #160
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainUniverse View Post
    Speaking of Spider-Girl, the new Spider-Girl Modern Era Epic Collection is available for pre-order... and will be released in March. So, if you haven't read Spider-Girl yet, you can get started with Volume 1.
    I have it pre-ordered.
    "Has Sariel summoned you here, Azrael? Have you come to witness the miracle of your brethren arriving on Earth?"

    "I WILL MIX THE ASHES OF YOUR BONES WITH SALT AND USE THEM TO ENSURE THE EARTH THE TEMPLARS TILLED NEVER BEARS FRUIT AGAIN!"

    "*sigh* I hoped it was for the miracle."

    Dan Watters' Azrael was incredible, a constant delight and perhaps too good for this world (but not the Forth). For the love of St. Dumas, DC, give us more!!!

  11. #161
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Spider-Man: the Venom Agenda
    I’m not sure why we’ve got this one-shot by Larry Hama pitting Spider-Man against Venom, published at the same time as a mini-series which pits Spider-Man against Venom.
    Spidey has a cold. Eddie Brock’s handlers send him to assassinate J Jonah Jameson, mainly due to how he handled Bastion in an X-Man comic (which to be fair is one of the best I’ve read for the era.) Tom Lyle is on art- he's not one of my favorites although he’s been around for a while. The twist is that Venom’s handlers realize he may have misinterpreted vague orders to scare Jonah as a demand to finish him- that is simultaneously astonishingly stupid but plausible. It’s a development that makes it clear that writer Larry Hama does not like Eddie Brock, and thinks the antihero is full of shit.
    It rubs me the wrong way when a comic this mediocre has its own variation of the rubble scene from the Master Planner saga. And it ends in such a clumsy fashion.
    It seems pointless, and a waste of everyone’s time, including the reader’s. I don’t like the execution. I think if you’re making these kinds of implications about how the government works, you shouldn’t be so clumsy. It’s a waste of a Spider-Man VS Venom fight, and reflective of how badly one of Spider-Man’s top foes was mistreated at this time.
    Wasn't this the travesty that ends with Spidey dropping a rock on Venom to give him amnesia? I remember thinking this was really weak back in the day and, if I'm remembering right, laughing at how lazily they wrote out Venom.
    "Has Sariel summoned you here, Azrael? Have you come to witness the miracle of your brethren arriving on Earth?"

    "I WILL MIX THE ASHES OF YOUR BONES WITH SALT AND USE THEM TO ENSURE THE EARTH THE TEMPLARS TILLED NEVER BEARS FRUIT AGAIN!"

    "*sigh* I hoped it was for the miracle."

    Dan Watters' Azrael was incredible, a constant delight and perhaps too good for this world (but not the Forth). For the love of St. Dumas, DC, give us more!!!

  12. #162
    Extraordinary Member Jman27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post


    Spectacular Spider-Man #247-249
    This three parter seems to exist mainly to move along subplots. J Jonah Jameson recovers from a vicious beating. Flash Thompson struggles with alcoholism and has ugly encounters with his family. A new version of the Jack OíLantern calls himself Mad Jack, and seems to have supernatural powers. Kraven the Hunter seems to have returned. Norman Osborn makes a move. Peterís vertigo keeps acting up. And someone seems to have the ability to control John Jameson, which leads to the closest thing to a standard A-plot for this set of issues.

    The result is that these issues are kind of a mixed bag. Luke Ross is okay as an artist, and decent with facial expressions at times, but he doesnít quite have the subtlety of DeMatteisí strongest collaborators like Sal Buscema, Mark Bagley or Mike Zeck, and some of his decisions (like cheesecake sequences with Marla Madison taking a shower) donít quite gel with the serious, psychological tone. A subplot of Mary Jane getting aggravated all the times Peter has to save people as Spider-Man is rather lightweight. There is some decent character development for Jonah, Flash and their families.
    B

    Finally reached this part of my readthrough strange seeing that both Marla and Kafka got deage and draw more sexual compared to their first appearance. Also Mets what reading list are you using btw cause the website Iím using hasnít got me reading asm 425 yet
    "He's pure power and doesn't even know it. He's the best of us."-Matt Murdock

    "I need a reason to take the mask off."-Peter Parker

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  13. #163
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Now weíre getting to Identity Crisis, one of the weirdest crossovers Spider-Man ever had. After the events of Spider-Hunt, he decides to come up with a new identity. In fact, he decides to come up with four identities, which seems overkill.

    So we have one month of preludes as Spider-Man realizes how he might end up getting some new costumes. Identity Crisis lasts for two issues for each of the titles, and itís not clear how those should be read. So, should Peter Parker Spider-Man #91-92 be viewed as one story, or is it two stories separated by the other spider-comics published in between? This gets more complicated when one title has a straightforward two-parter.

    The Spider-Hunt TPB ends with the prelude issues to Identity Crisis.

    Sensational Spider-Man #26
    Hydroman decides to collect the bounty on Spidey, while Silver Sable & Sandman decide to investigate whatís going on. Peter offends a coworker, meets with one of Ben Reillyís friends and his deaf neighbor might have thoughts about Spider-Man. Itís a busy issue, but it generally works. Peterís life feels chaotic at this moment, and there are some decent challenges for Spider-Man, who has to worry about saving people terrified of him.
    Todd Nauckís art is still kinda weird at this point. Thereís something about the proportions. Still, I love this image of Sandman playing with his hands. I miss Sandman as a good guy. And the dynamic with the Silver Sable is fantastic, especially after he makes a sacrifice to save the day.

    Thereís a slightly clumsy moment where Spidey gets an injury that he feels in another issue, though on a second read it works.
    B+



    Amazing Spider-Man #433
    Tom Lyle comes on board to depict a showdown with Mr. Hyde. Peterís still got a busted ankle from Sensational Spider-Man #26. Robbie Robertson has a going away party.
    Lyleís art really reminds me of Bagley here. Sometimes it doesnít work, but most of the time heís solid.
    Iím a bit annoyed by how many scenes we have about Robbie retiring, although it leads to some decent scenes, like Martha defusing a tense situation by revealing plans for a second honeymoon.
    The set-up to the Mr Hyde fight requires him to openly use his credit cards, and it sorta makes sense in the context, but itís a still a bit weird and sloppy.
    The issue is just very wordy. Peter tries to fight Hyde in disguise, but not as Spider-Man, and while the issue sells the idea of Spidey coming up with a new identity, it doesnít sell the idea of four of them.
    B-
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  14. #164
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jman27 View Post
    Finally reached this part of my readthrough strange seeing that both Marla and Kafka got deage and draw more sexual compared to their first appearance. Also Mets what reading list are you using btw cause the website Iím using hasnít got me reading asm 425 yet
    I'm mostly going with publication dates, and trying to use context clues (IE- A story set on Christmas before a story set in winter.)

    Quote Originally Posted by exile001 View Post
    Wasn't this the travesty that ends with Spidey dropping a rock on Venom to give him amnesia? I remember thinking this was really weak back in the day and, if I'm remembering right, laughing at how lazily they wrote out Venom.
    A dynamite blast. It was close enough. And it was dumb because they weren't even writing him out. The Venom: The Finale mini-series was coming out at the same time.
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

  15. #165
    Ultimate Member Mister Mets's Avatar
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    Peter Parker Spider-Man #90
    Peter and Mj were planning to go to a trendy restaurant in Yancy Street, and thereís some kind of black hole. While trying to save civilians, he stumbles into the negative zone where there seems to be a rebellion led by the warrior Dusk against the forces of Blastaar.
    Itís a solid comic with Spider-Man out of his element where John Romita Jr gets to show his skills at fantasy and sci-fi (He would soon be the artist on the Thor relaunch.)
    Itís a decent story for how Spidey gets a new costume, although Iím not sure on why he needs to get more suits after this one, beyond the appeal of a different costume for each title.
    B+



    Spectacular Spider-Man #256
    Finally, a Dematteis issue without a co-writer. And next issue is his last (and it's also Part 1 of two.)
    The funny plot of the White Rabbit holding Gibbon & the Grizzly hostage is a decent fit for Luke Ross, whose style hasnít meshed as well with the dark, psychological stories, but works for a story about D-list superheroes overwhelmed by D-list supervillains, who decide to up their game when realizing no one respects them.


    I like the idea of MJ helping Peter make a new costume, and being involved in the strategies. Norman Osborn has taken Flash Thompson on as a body man, and thereís a moment where heís dismissing an outburst by Jonah thatís just effective at showing how heís able to get away with the things he does. We get more information about Anna Watsonís past, which elevates the earlier subplot where she was suspicious that Peter was having an affair.
    A-
    Sincerely,
    Thomas Mets

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