Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Cho
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It took me until this issue to put my finger on why I wasn't enjoying Mark Millar's work on this series as much as I had expected to, and the reason is because he's a bit like a kid in a candy store who is unable to settle on his favourite, so instead what we get is a steady barrage of ideas and none of them are given the attention they need. I mean we have Aunt May's kidnapping, Mary Jane and her financial difficulties, Peter's troubles with his secret identity, Black Cat's worrisome involvement with the criminal the Owl, and than on top of these half-realized plots we also get a steady parade of villains from Spider-Man's rogues gallery. This in turn results in an issue where none of these compelling plots are allowed to be as good as they could've been had a little more time been devoted to developing them, with the whole compromised secret identity being the most disappointing, as the last page comments that were made by J. Jonah Jameson at the end of the previous issue are revealed to be nothing more than Mark Millar messing with the readers.
I also have to say I was a bit annoyed by the throwaway battle that this issue offers up with Doctor Octopus, as it's essentially Spider-Man pounding on a drugged up Otto, and this in turn results in a cliff-hanger moment that I found to be extremely goofy as Spider-Man deals with the money hungry members of a S.W.A.T. unit. In the end this is simply a case of Mark Millar having to many balls in the air, and instead of a dazzling display of his ability to juggle his various plot threads, instead it's an assemblage of ideas that aren't nearly as engaging as one expected them to be when they were first introduced. Plus, the scene where Spider-Man helps a man change his tire is a painful attempt at being funny.
Frank Cho is a solid artist, as his characters have a fluid grace to them as the move across the page, and his work is also very impressive when he's delivering the quieter moments, like Mary Jane's admission to Peter that they need to talk about something important. The issue's big action sequence is also worth a mention, as Doctor Octopus' rampage does a great job of conveying the raw power of the character, and Spider-Man's attack is a fantastic visual display. The art also does some lovely work on its backgrounds, from the scene that's set in Central Park, to the scene where Spider-Man twists and turns his way across the rooftops of the city.
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