This is part 4 of 4 of the Character Assassination storyline, but it’s more than that; it’s the wrapping up of the first batch of plotlines since Brand New Day began bringing us an almost weekly Spidey book. That’s over 40 issues and editor Steve Wacker and his assistants deserve a big spider-tracer on the back for keeping the quality up through the numerous storylines.
So we now know who Menace is. We know how far Harry Osborn will go for his loved ones. And we know that Peter Parker is still the smartest, bravest, most inspirational hero in the Marvel Universe. This guy fights on, no matter what the odds, knowing he’s lucky not to be lynched by the good people of New York, never mind thanked for putting his life on the line for them. At one point this issue he’s so beaten down that he can fight no more, and he’s preparing to meet his maker, and someone else. What’s shocking is who he doesn’t think of.
This story has shone an intense spotlight on almost every member of Peter’s regular cast, highlighting the good and bad alike. Peter’s flatmate Vin must face up to his mistakes. Police scientist Carlie shows true pluck. Harry’s girl Lily Hollister is offered a deal with the devil. And Peter and Harry come to an understanding.
It’s immensely satisfying, as writer Marc Guggenheim skillfully balances action and character work. And veteran Spidey penciller John Romita Jr shows why he’s in any Spider-Man fan’s Hall of Fame with page after page of classic Marvel action. Spidey is very obviously fighting the pain as he battles the bad guys. There are a couple of panels in which Spidey’s anatomy is, to be diplomatic, over stylised, but there are several dozen which just made me smile.
And all credit to Romita, with inkers Klaus Janson and Tom Palmer, and colourist Dean White, for realistically showing that if your face is pummelled, you’re not going to look like a GQ model ten minutes later. Peter looks thoroughly beaten up by the end of this issue, while Vin looks like raw hamburger; it’s not pretty, and that’s commendable. This is what violence does, folks.
And while letterer Cory Petit didn’t get to do anything flashy here, he produced excellent work, as he’s done week after week. Take a bough . . . sorry, bow (see, Cory wouldn’t get that wrong!)
I was sniffy about the political meanderings of this storyline awhile back, but the pay-off here wouldn’t have worked had the groundwork not been laid carefully, and in detail, so I guess it was all worthwhile (crivvens, I almost said I’d been wrong, there).
So, that’s Brand New Day over with. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I suppose an actual weekly is too much to hope for?