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Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1

Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Marc Guggenheim
Mike McKone, Andy Lanning (i), Jeremy Cox (c)
Marvel Comics
"A Tale of Two Jackpots"

After the extraordinary issue #574, Marc Guggenheim's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 is considerably ordinary. Returning to one of the plot threads of his first arc on Amazing Spider-Man Guggenheim unmasks Jackpot and explains the origin of her powers.

First, it’s not MJ. Yes, she says “tiger” like Mary Jane Watson but so did Stan Lee in the ‘60s. And yes, they both have red hair, but so did Stan Lee in the ‘60s. Jackpot, the rookie Initiative defender of New York City streets, is really a two-woman operation.

As revealed in ASM # 551, her name is Sara Ehret. Imbued with super powers from a genetic enhancement gone awry, she signed up for the Initiative and got her registration card and then promptly loaned it to someone who actually wanted the job. With the aid of an assortment of drugs, Alana Jobson takes up the mantle of the disco-decked crime fighter.

Stylistically, this book continues with that caption heavy, editorialized storytelling reminiscent of the Stan Lee era of comics. While this style was kitschy and nostalgic back in issues #546 - #555, it impedes the flow of the narrative here. Although series editor Stephen Wacker does let the ending come together without halting, the first half of book is filed with little asides and topical anecdotes that break the mood of Guggenheim dialogue. When Spider-Man seeks Reed Richard's help in stopping the blinding power of Blindside, Reed discovers that the villain is ironically using a chemical called Oedipus. At the bottom of the panel is a caption by Wacker explaining the reference to the Greek play. Unfortunately, the lengthy explanation undercuts the exposition of Reed’s dialogue, which reveals that the chemical is a commercial product distributed by a notable villain.

As for McKone’s Art, his strong, stalwart Spider-Man serves the book’s story perfectly. The most surprising panel is when Peter asks for Betty Brant’s help. As he begs her for information on the notable villain distributing the Oedipus chemical, Betty presses him on why he wants to know. The next panel is a Ditko patented Spidey/Petey split face, but unlike most of these shots Spidey’s face is toward the reader. Due to the angle of Peter’s head, the mask covers much of the contours of Peter’s face, creating a jolting, ominous mood to the scene.

For fans of the series thus far, this is a good issue that has its flaws.

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