Monday, January 18, 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #614

Marvel, 2009, 23 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover artist: Marko Djurdjevic

Stop me if you've heard this one before: In this comic, not only does Spider-Man find a new way to insulate his webbing against Electro, so he can then go and decide to web up his spider-fists and use them to beat him up just when the plot calls for it, but he also tells the electrical one about the fascinating new way of insulating his webbing—his "ace," he thinks in his elaborate thought balloons—while he's beating him up with his webbed-up spider-fists.

Here's to ingenuity; my first instinct was to put an exclamation mark here instead of the semicolon, but I couldn't muster the energy.

Reading The Amazing Spider-Man certainly is a crapshoot, these days, thanks to the revolving creative teams. Sometimes you get stories by people with unique voices, eager to make a name for themselves by doing inspired and creative work; and sometimes the "crapshoot" gets more literal and you get stories such as this one, where a fossilized old dinosaur—herbivore, surely—like Mark Waid is phoning it in like his editor got him a flat rate.

It's about Spider-Man and Electro beating each other up, as I say, and its first problem is that it can't be easily distinguished from earlier stories about Spider-Man and Electro beating each other up. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've read this exact same story before, back in the 1990s, only then it said "Tom DeFalco" in the credits, and I didn't feel compelled to pinch myself to determine if I was still attached to the realm of flesh and blood.

No such luck this time, because Mr. Waid here gives new meaning to the word "effortless."

There's the kernel of a great idea here, tragically. I'm certain that there are great stories to be told about the Daily Bugle and its meaning to Spider-Man's—and Peter Parker's—world.

Rather than to dramatize his thoughts on this remarkably good idea he's had, however, Mr. Waid opts to go with a bog-standard fight plot with an unmotivated and phony turning point that makes no sense where everyone tells the reader what everything means in the text in the speech bubbles with the dialogue.

It is making me numb in the head.

There's a nice-looking page towards the end—all black with a single horizontal panel in the middle that shows a crushed J. Jonah Jameson, where the creators manage to stir my interest and almost fool me into thinking—thinking!—there's any merit here.

But then!

"Betty nailed it. For her, and me, and Jonah, and thousands of others... this day is the dividing line between everything that ever happened, and everything that ever will. Good memories and bad... that's all that's left. Wow, man, who thought it'd be a C-lister like Electro who'd deliver the blow? Guess it just goes to show... even the also-rans can upgrade when you're not paying attention."

Uuugh! Get out of my head with your wriggling, oily painting-by-numbers non-prose, you thought-robbing, brain-dazing crony of dull and phony, you non-dramatizing interpretationazi. If you can't be bothered to show not tell the story, at least have the common decency to step aside and let somebody else do it and put your self-congratulatory exudations of what you think I should think your work means—your work that you haven't done, you unrealized, bulletpoint-riddled son of a static monologue—in the letter column.

The only dividing line I see here is the one between me and another Mark Waid comic, frankly—in the unlikely event that he's got any more words left to phone in to anybody, I mean.

And hey, Marvel: Why not throw in the towel now, while you can still lift it without assistance? With soggy, borderline lethargic flub like this, which undeniably made it to print because it was deemed good enough by everyone involved, it's pretty obvious that comics are no match for real entertainment.

On a very positive note, I enjoy how Mr. Azaceta draws everyone with big butts, also Spider-Man. There should be more superhero comics where the heroes and the villains have big butts. That's what the plus is for: the butts that the artist drew in this boring comic written by Mark Waid that is making me numb inside my mind.

Grade: D+

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