At this point, any semblance of a “rotating” creative team structure for Amazing Spider-Man appears to have collapsed entirely, leading “whoever’s available” to take over, but actually it’s working out quite well in terms of getting top talent on the book, however briefly. In this issue, Slott wraps up his Mysterio arc with a single-issue coda featuring the Black Cat – but far more interesting than that is the presence of Michael Lark on pencils.
Lark has recently been seen pencilling Daredevil with Ed Brubaker, so it’s little suprise, given that title’s noir-ish and gritty tone, that this story is about Spidey and Felicia stealing something from Mr. Negative. What is surprising is that Lark’s pencils are considerably more polished, perhaps representing a more mainstream approach. Despite the textual connection to the previous issues, there’s absolutely no attempt to emulate Marcos Martin’s style (nor would you expect one) but as a version of itself, Lark’s work looks fantastic.
Writing-wise, Slott has never quite lived up to the boundless energy and humour he displayed in his first few arcs on the title, but it’s still well-plotted, well-paced and well-structured. Under Slott’s direction, Spidey is startlingly competent as a super-hero, and yet retains as put-upon by the world as ever. Sadly, the one area where the issue falters is in Aunt May’s “negatived” subplot, which has already stretched beyond believability after only a few weeks. If it doesn’t get wrapped up soon, it could get tedious fast – so far all we’ve seen is the same scene over and over, in which May chews out a member of the cast, who stand by the wayside looking stunned.
On the plus side, Carlie Cooper finally gets to do something other than hang around looking a bit glum. It’s good to see a prominent new member of the cast come into her own, and her scenes with Peter finally suggest some chemistry between them that’s actually interested to read about. If this trend rapidly develops, she might actually start to stand alongside the former favourites – probably not Gwen or MJ, but it’s possible she could be at least a Brant. Let’s just hope no-one’s out there thinking “right, the readers are finally interested, let’s kill her off entirely.”
All in all, Amazing Spider-Man remains consistently good. If every issue was this brilliant, the series would be considered unmissable – as it is, it’s merely a reliably decent diversion from week to week.