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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 08/15/07
brought to you by Illusive Comics and Games of Santa Clara

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #23
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Todd Nauck and Robert Campanella

It's the end of an era. After this, the dreaded with one eye half-open "One More Day" arc begins, when J. Michael Straczynski has his final say on the character of Spider-Man.

If we have hope, it's that this isn't Peter David's final say on Peter Parker, because few writers around handle him as well. When matched with a penciler like Todd Nauck, who handles light moments as well as darker, more intense ones without any clash of style, the result is the Spider-Man we should be reading more often than we are.

Technically, Spider-Man should be stuck in the midst of the "Back In Black" arc, which has been handled more directly in Amazing Spider-Man. With an anticipated major shedding of supporting cast on the horizon, David pares this one down to some basics that anybody having only seen the movies can latch onto and get why the heck we like reading these books.

Though obviously the Aunt May situation has to be in Peter Parker's head, it's reference obliquely. Instead, the focus is on J. Jonah Jameson trying to get Robbie Robertson to come back to work at the Bugle, having previously fired him for showing integrity at exactly the wrong moment.

What Peter David gets, what writers that understand the Spider-books get, is that of course Jameson knows that Robbie serves as his conscience, and any conflict between the two has to be resolved quickly. As well, David understands the core problem between Jameson and Spider-Man - jealousy.

As he's been proving ever since he memorably sent his previous X-Factor team into therapy, David understands the psychology of his characters. Yet it doesn't seem like heavy exposition; it flows naturally out of the plot. Spider-Man may give Jonah some free shots after accusing him of envy (and not for the first time in his history), but it takes Robbie to observe something more personal from the other side of the battle.

It's a tight little story, easy to pick up, with a long way to go for one of David's most painfully fun punchlines in a long while.

When we've been inundated with as many Spider-Man books as we have in the past few months, it's good to see one shine like this.

Also on the Stands:

Captain America #29: Think it kills the suspense to know that Alex Ross will be handling Captain America's return? Think again. This book belongs to one Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, as he narrows down his hunt for the Red Skull. And you won't regret a page of it. With Steve Epting and Mike Perkins on art, this may have vaulted to the category of Marvel's best book overall. Certainly, it's the best book with a dead title character - and I'm including Marvel Zombies.

New X-Men #41: Changes get made to the line-up. Illyana may or may not be back. It's still just a confusing mess, not helped by the sloppy storytelling of Skottie Young. In the back-up, you may realize that a central point of "Endangered Species" also contradicts itself from the first chapter. The desperation to keep creating event after event has begun just leading all the X-books around by the nose.

(Annihilation: Conquest) Quasar #2: A solid enough second issue, with an unexpected focus on Moondragon's past. For those that didn't know it, that's pretty useful. However, the plot feels drawn out, a problem making most of these "Annihilation" books feel like they should have been combined into one tightly wound mini-series. Marvel might not have made as much money that way, but it would have been a stronger book.

Sub-Mariner #3: Namor fights X-Men in order to confront Charles Xavier. Didn't we just see this in World War Hulk? Aren't we just a little bit embarrassed by that fact - or insulted that Marvel doesn't think we'd notice?

Wolverine Origins #16: Re-telling a classic X-Men tale of Logan teaming up with Captain America and a child Natasha Romanoff, this time with all of Logan's memories of the event. To prove they're not cheating, Marvel reprints the original story in the back, and I'll give Daniel Way points for some pretty clever writing between the lines without cheating at all. But the fact remains it's still just a retelling in a book that should stop doing stunts and start actually living up to its title.

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw


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