Hmm. I'm enjoying these Brand New Day Spidey stories ok, but I don't know if I can say anything more than that. I certainly don't think there has been any benefit to removing Mary Jane from the spider-mythos. Spider-Man is one of those characters that I like well enough to read about just based on his own merits, but I always dug the drama he had with MJ. There is a new possible love interest (or at least flirt-interest) in this trade, but I don't really hold out much hope that this confident new reporter for the Frontline paper will stick around.
The trade opens with a nice war story starring Flash Thompson. I guess Marc Guggenheim researched military terms and tactics with an actual soldier before writing this and it shows. Barry Kitson handles the realistic combat in as confident a fashion as he does his other work, and this was a quite moving story. I'm not sure about the spider-moments interjected into Flash's more realistic problems though. Isn't comparing a soldier's life-threatening work to Spider-Man fighting some bum sort of insulting?
The next story has Joe Kelly revamping Hammerhead as a flunky for Mr. Negative. I'm not sure I like Hammerhead dropping his mobster motif in an attempt to get serious. I really liked Spidey's comments during their fights; his dialogue was mirroring my thoughts. Kelly always does a nice job of balancing humor and drama and he keeps up that trend here. The childhood trauma and origin of Hammerhead is quite sad, but that is contrasted against the excellent quips coming from Spidey. This is an absolutely brutal encounter and it really pushes the boundaries of believability that Peter Parker's co-workers would be so accepting of his mangled face, but the story is well put together.
The final story has the Punisher and Spidey taking on Moses Magnum. It was decent enough, but at this point I need something special from my Punisher stories. I don't think he works as well in straight up super-hero comics anymore, not after seeing him used so well in a movie-type format in Punisher MAX. I was pleased to see Moses Magnum survive the encounter though.
The art is solid throughout the trade. Barry Kitson's work is wonderful as always. Chris Bachalo's Spidey is a tad big-headed and kid-like, but contrasted against the brutality of the fights the style actually worked. Paulo Rivera has a distinctive style that worked ok, but the Punisher was a tad lumpy. I prefer the bulking bruiser we've seen in most recent appearances.