Friday, January 16, 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #583 or Amazing Obama #583

So this is what we give the people who came for Obama, huh? The story is fine, with Mark Waid turning in a nice character piece showing how Peter's friends view him. Betty Brant loves Pete as a friend, but knows he's always unreliable, running off for this or that event the he forgot. It would be frustrating knowing a guy like Peter, but darn if his charm and kindness wouldn't make it worth it. The Spider-action is pretty slight in this issue, but I dug the witty banter Spidey does get in his cameo-type appearances. Barry Kitson is one of my favorites, and his character-based story here looks good. I believe his strength is in super-heroics, but he handles the drama well. I liked the speed-dating page, it was fun seeing Peter and Betty in that movie-type situation.

The backup. Oh, boy. So The Chameleon is inpersonating Obama, and he can't describe basketball to prove he's the prez. Like, not at all, thinking the players wear helmets as they go onto the basketball diamond. Funny enough, I guess, but kind of stupid too. If a new reader picked this up, I can't imagine there would be a lot to bring them back to the spider-verse. The lead story was kind of slow and the backup was insultingly simple. I dig Todd Nauck's art, but as other bloggers have said, he probably wasn't the best choice for this backup. Everyone looks angular and bug-eye in Nauck's cartoony style, again giving civilians a bad idea about comics. If there is no such thing as bad press, then why am I wincing at the thought of being asked about this issue by co-workers and family? The backup is average only, but I still dug the package overall. I'm not sure outsiders will feel the same.



Ian from Westfields said...

Pretty right-on review Timbotron.

Seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill Spider-Man issue which would put it firmly in the Fair category, I agree.

The Obama story was problematic for me though. Seemed a little contrived in order to chase the dollar. Which does the opposite of endear me to it. I'm sure there's a word for that.

The total package didn't seem like such a great one for the more distinguished Spider-Man fan (cause of the fairly corny Obama story among other things*) but also not a great all-ages vehicle or jumping-on point for new readers either.

To wit: given the content of the feature story--that sported a standard cover in-joking about "Cougars", and drinking to excess, and some generally adult sensibilities about dating and adult male/female relationships, it's just not something I'd recommend for a kid. Not to be a prude but I just wouldn't. It'd sail right over my kid's head.

And that it deals with a fairly unrecognizable status quo: a bereft and deposed JJJ with goatee, Menace the not-quite-Green Goblin (who only really appears for a panel or two), all narrated by Betty Brant, and then ultimately leading to the conclusion that Peter and Betty are BFFs? Little to no action with soap opera-ish overtones too. Not a Spider-Man comic I'd recommend to first-timers either.

The lead story just didn't seem to work as a tool to win the youth or uninitiated reader who might be coming in due to the hype of the Obama appearance--even though that's all the Obama story was good for, if you ask me.

So there was clearly some competing interests or, at the very least, little thought put into this as anything more than selling an issue like gangbusters. We might even be seeing a bit of a Scorched Earth Policy here assuming people who potentially picked up the issue as a commemoration of the Obama presidency actually read it and realized how trite comics can be.

Comics are so backwards. It makes me love them and hate them kinda.

*But for the Spider-Man and Marvel aficionado there's a real travesty. Prepare to hit Fan Mode here by the way.

Looks like Obama (though unnamed) is going to show up in Thunderbolts this week. Wherein he has a conversation with Osborn regarding his reservations about abuses of power and Osborn's reputation as he's now a functionary of the government's current arm of enforcement for the Superhero Registration Act, SHIELD or HAMMER or somesuch.

So it should be assumed that when Spider-Man saves Obama in this issue, Spider-Man (currently unregistered) is considered a wanted individual. So when Obama is fist-pumping Spider-Man he's fist-pumping a known criminal. William Ayers eat your heart out.

But hey, let's assume that Obama's really for the good guys. He's a Spider-Man fan. And maybe his concerns about Osborn over in Thunderbolts affirm this affection for the ol' Webslinger.

So here's my question: Why didn't Spider-Man put a bug in Obama's ear about Osborn? Wouldn'tcha think Spider-Man might just mention that a sociopath is in charge of SHIELD and the whole SHRA is a sham and this and that and the other?

But that would've ended Dark Reign pretty quick. And I don't really want that if I'm honest. But the cognitive dissonance with the attempt at maintaining Marvel as the realistic, "Your Universe" that it's tried to market itself as since Stan was around gets so completely undermined and lampooned with this cash-grab, I gotta go with a Poor for this--even though when I turn Fan Mode off it was pretty harmless. He look, there's the Empire State Building!

Whew, thanks for indulging me there. And great site.

Timbotron said...

I agree, if Spidey would just tell Obama about Norman, it would make sense, but ruin stories.I think that problem is actually more of a statement on poor timing. Having Osbourn in this position of power at this hopeful time in America is a real disconnect. There is going to have to be some real balancing to have an evil government with a good President.