With the debut of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, I went and reread previous stories about the Sinister Syndicate, usually back issues I bought back a while back. Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #1-4 was a dense in a good way series about B-list Spider-Man villains fighting Spider-Man, and plotting against one another. Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #58 was a great tale of Spider-Man VS a loser by Roger Stern and John Byrne, probably the best issue Stern wrote outside of his ASM run. In Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #59-60, Stern pits Spider-Man against another loser. It is a bit redundant, but the dynamics are different. Stern’s retelling of Amazing Fantasy#15 is really unnecessary. Deadly Foes featured an attempt at revenge for something the Beetle did in Stern’s three-parter.
Lethal Foes of Spider-Man #1-4 added A-listers Doc Ock and Vulture, but it was also the type of mini-series where the return of a D-lister (Stegron! Swarm!) merits a cliffhanger ending. Still, a lot of fun, even if the plots are crammed together, and it’s just a generic sluggest at times, albeit one with lots of Spidey foes. Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1 was Deadly Foes by way of Fraction’s Hawkeye (and maybe Gillen’s Young Avengers.) Still a fun debut for a crime series about figures who aren’t the best at what they do.
In Venom #37, Bunn either hit his stride or stepped it up, as things get more dangerous for Brock. All the villains fighting to take him out is fun. Venom #38 was also pretty good. Venom gets overconfident dealing with a new wave of enemies, while his archenemy comes back. And there are some major developments with a supporting characters, and a promising new status quo, which is slightly upended.
This month, I finished Peter David’s Spider-Man 2099 run. #31 was mostly filler, but I do like seeing Spidey dealing with a tragedy in an earlier arc, and the obvious dream sequences are cool. #32-33 had a dark twist with the main plot. Given the suit, the day of the dead seems a logical thing to explore. #34 was a solid set-up to Venom. In the Venom 2099 four-parter in #35-38, the central tragedy mostly works, although I was unclear on the relationship between Dana and Tyler Stone. The new Venom is a solid foe, even if it seems a bit padded.
In Spider-Man 2099 #39-40: With the return of Vulture 2099, and a new Goblin 2099 and the aftermath of the Venom story, there is a sense that the series is losing what made it unique. But the riffs on old villains do work, and a new status quo is quite promising. With #41, Peter David delivers one of the strongest issues as Miguel makes some big decisions in the aftermath of a tragedy. In #42: Miguel gets a secretary, and deals with his newfound power. It’s Peter David having fun, which is always a joy to read. In #43-44: Some major developments are really rushed, although I do like the set-up to the conflict with the Atlantean.
I also finished the second half of the Brand New Day era. Amazing Spider-Man #618-620 had beautiful art by Martin and Rivera. The mafia plot is convoluted, and Slott’s kinda clusmy at handling the Peter Parker plot as he learns a few lessons. #621 had nice Michael Lark art, and a Good showdown with Mr Negative/ exploration of the Black Cat relationship. #622 had two solid self-contained stories. The Morbius one is a bit quick, although Quiniones’s art is fantastic.
In Amazing Spider-Man #623-624, the Storytelling’s often strong, but these two issues don’t enough to establish what Peter loses at the end. And the Red Vulture story doesn’t really go anywhere. I do like Jonah’s response to a new scandal. #625 was a highlight of the Brand New Day era/ The Gauntlet saga. Easily the Rhino’s best story. #626 was an okay enough single-issue spotlight on Peter Parker’s relationship with his roommate. #627-629: Solid Juggernaut team-up elevated by Lee Weeks’s art. Although it seems like it should have been published during another hole in the schedule, since ongoing subplots are mostly ignored.
The Lizard story in Amazing Spider-Man #630-633 is great, and likely the highlight of the Gauntlet era. But this also likely has the best Peter Parker plot of the Brand New Day run, as he tries to find someone to communicate with after a break-up and a tragedy. Amazing Spider-Man #634-637 provides a suitably grand conclusion to the Gauntlet saga, as the storyline ties together years of loose ends touching on stories from decades earlier in other runs. I do have some minor quibbles, but they pull off Kraven’s resurrection, there are some great twists and it’s always fantastic to see Spider-Man when he’s pissed.
With Amazing Spider-Man #642-646, one problem with the story is that it kinda pales in comparison to Grim Hunt, the previous epic that tied up years worth of loose ends. Paul Azaceta’s art swings from downright ugly to brilliant storytelling. The main story is intense, and doesn’t let up, and there are some fun twists. Carlie Cooper annoys me in this, and Amazing Spider-Man #647. It probably wasn’t a bright move to have everyone else in the supporting cast talking about the potential relationship. Still, it’s a good enough conclusion to the Brand New Day era as several supporting characters depart. There is a particularly effective Harry Osborn moment.
For the hell of it, I also read Mark Waid’s other Spider-Man story from Spider-Man: House of M #1-5. It’s fun to see Peter Parker under radically different circumstances, as his life completely falls apart. Doesn’t mesh well with the House of M mini-series, and the Green Goblin subplot peters out, which has led to some people taking the third issue cliffhanger at face value. But I really like this version of Jonah, especially his glee in finding Peter’s journal.
And I read other Spider-Man comics from the second half of the Brand New Day era. In Dark Reign: Mister Negative #1-3, the origin of Mister Negative works pretty well, although there are some plot holes in the Betty Brant arc. For a Dark Reign tie-in, Spidey has a fairly big role, and I like the clash between Negative’s forces and the Hood. I loved Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #1-6. Fantastic art by Kubert as Spider-Man is essentially dragged into a time-travelling X-Men story. The arc is elevated by a lot of great details and concepts (the Phoenix bullet, the future Doctor Doom) and then it sets up one of Spidey’s great romances.
Web of Spider-Man (2009) #1-12 was an unusual Spider-Man monthly. There was a formula to the first seven issues, with a villain spotlight, a Spider-Girl chapter and another story in every issue. Spider-Girl, a series with a decade of history, was probably not the right choice for this book. I didn’t find those chapters particularly interesting. There is some stuff to recommend, even if some of the stories are repetitive, dealing with stuff we’ve seen before (Ben Reilly decides to be a hero! Aunt May and Jonah Sr get randy! Adrian Toomes gets his revenge !) I’m not sure what grade to give this, since the cover price wasn’t bad and the material is probably available pretty cheap.
In #8-10, the Extremist is probably the strongest storyline from in Web, as Spidey takes on a new villain inspired by Ditko’s objectivism (in a meta not a literal way.) I don’t care as much for the manga inspired take on Jackpot in the back-ups. In #11-12, the Mary Jane/ Black Cat team-up never quite reaches its full potential, although I do like MJ’s search for a missing Spidey.
Superior Carnage #1 also debuted. I’m not sure how to feel about this one. It’s a solid enough prison escape, and it could be interesting to see a story where the superheroes aren’t needed. But it also diminished Carnage’s previous defeat. Clever twist with the protagonist, but I’m not sure where it can go next.
Morbius #7 has probably the most grating version of Spider-Ock, although still a step up from typical fare for the book. Superior Spider-Man #13 is a great conclusion to an arc that may have seemed like filler, but has a big impact on the series.
I also went through back issues of the second rendition of Spider-Man Unlimited. If you guys remember, this anthology had two stories in every issue. #2 was disposable but fun, as Spider-Man tries to grade papers and MJ wonders about her celebrity VS how her husband is treated. Spider-Man Unlimited (2004) #3 is an underrated gem. Scott Kolins is great as the artist on a tale of a kid considering a life of crime, while Ala Garza and Brandon Thomas has a great take on the spider-sense as Spidey also ponders his mortality. In #5: A hostage at the Bugle is crammed (good but generic take on Jonah), but I do like the experimental take on a bystander’s POV in another story. With #6: Gorgeous art by Jim Cheung as Spidey deals with the aftermath of a fight with the Rhino. And then there’s a solid tale of a seemingly generic henchman. #7 has okay twists on Spider-Man stories from a slightly different POV (a bystander in a battle, a webbed up hood wondering if he’s going to die from the fall if the webbing should break.)With #11, Brian Reed and Michael Lark have a great take on a Spidey VS Hulk fight and some voyeurs. Didn’t care as much for the one about Peter going on a field trip with his class.
In Superior Spider-Man #14, Spidey’s takedown of Shadowland hits a few snags underneath his notice. And bad things happen to a Kingpin lookalike. Scarlet Spider #19 gets bonus points for Kaine’s morally gray decision. Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #1 is a fun enough story with Spidey fighting everyone in the Marvel U, with good interactions between him and the Avengers. In Ultimate Spider-Man #25: The highlights are a conversation between Gwen and May, as well as a memorable encounter between Miles and Spider-woman. It’s something Bendis does well, revealing character in a middle chapter of a longer storyline.
The Spidey comes bring it to a total of 1984 comics recorded in 2013.
I broke the 2013 total with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates, as well as assorted new comics including Batman, Daredevil (two issues), Powers (two issues), Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hawkeye annual, Batman Inc., Hunger and a disappointingly Spidey-less Savage Wolverine #7.