Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1/35 (Make your mind up, Marvel)

Jackpot’s secret revealed! She’s an action figure who lives in Spidey’s crotch. Well, according to the cover.

Inside we learn that, gasp! – the cover was merely a Mighty Marvel Impressionistic Masterpiece. Jackpot remains normal sized. Well done Mike McKone, you got me all excited there. And a huge well done to McKone and inker Andy Lanning for a superb art job within. This is one fluid Spider-Man, skittering this way and that like nobody’s business. Too many artists forgot that Spidey moves in a certain way. It’s also nice to see such Spidey touches as Peter talking on the phone while pacing his bedroom ceiling, and a Ditko-esque half-Pete/half-Spidey head. And McKone is, as ever, an ace storyteller – while there’s style aplenty, there’s not a moment when it isn’t clear what’s going on.

His Jackpot is what I believe they call a hottie, even if she does wear flares. Mind, her big, bouffy hair is very silly and pours doubt on the oft-presented idea that she could be Mary Jane Watson-not-Parker.

So is she? I’m not telling, as this is an entertaining issue made all the better by little touches – an old-school, witty splash page, complete with logo; clever chapter headings; and great use of flashback. The meat of the issue is a nice done-in-one tale by Marc Guggenheim, who shows his background in TV’s Law & Order franchise with his pleasantly linear, but absorbing, potboiler. I loved seeing Betty Brant doing some actual reporting again, and Peter taking more of an active interest than usual. I also enjoyed a sub-prime mortgage crisis reference – very New York today, which is where Spidey should be.

A couple of wee quibbles: Peter has Betty use her police contacts to have a coffee cup fingerprinted, which seems odd given how much time the Spidey Brains Trust has spent establishing CSI Carlie Cooper. And the villains of the piece, the Mogul aka Walter Declun (apparently a refugee from Wolverine), Blindside and a Special Guest Obscurity are less than exciting. Then again, this is Jackpot’s spotlight issue.

Sadly – the character just hasn’t proven interesting to me. It’s as if no one thought her through beyond ‘let’s have a new heroine who may be post-Mephisto MJ’. Still, there are scenes at the close of this story that we may see a more worthwhile Jackpot in future.

All in all, a thoroughly decent issue, never less than entertaining, but missing the wow factor. Face it Marvel, you just missed the Jackpot.

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