Amazing Spider-Man #548: Spider-Mugger . . . DEAD?

Amazing Spider-Man #548 concludes Dan Slott's first arc on Brand New Day. Working with McNiven et al., he cushioned us into Spidey's New Status Quo and introduced the crime boss Mr. Negative. Peter Parker appeared in the first issue but became an afterthought later, although you definitely can't say that the issues are thin on web-slinging action.

Lots of stuff happens here, and I have to say, Slott is very good at pacing his stories. You get a sense that each issue is meaningful, and in an age of decompression (COUGHBendisCOUGH), that's at least one good result of Peter's deal with the Devil.

Last we left our dear Spidey, he was in a room packed with maggia and gassed. The gas was specific to the maggia, so only he and another person survived. The gas, from Mr. Negative, is going to reach the children and wives of the mob bosses, though, so Spidey webslings away.

Also, Carlie's hair is, again, red, after being blonde. Is it too much to ask for consistency in hair color? Is her hair color officially red or what? Are you trying to toy with me, Marvel? What's going on?

Then I thought that it might be a hint that she's Jackpot! Jackpot! It might make sense, but I really don't wanna believe that, 'cause that's a spot reserved for MJ. However, Carlie's hair color here loosely matches Jackpot's (Carlie's is just more orange).

Sorry about the tangent.

Thereafter, we cut to the Spider-Mugger. . . being murdered! He had one of Spidey's webshooters. . . and now he's getting killed! That's really too bad, Spider-Mugger had a lot of story potential, and I've a hunch that Slott killed him off so that Guggenheim wouldn't have to care about him next month. The thing is, I care about him. =(.

We go back to Spidey, and THE MOST AWESOME SCENE EVER:
I remember the first time I saw Spidey hitching a cab ride. It was Joe Straczynski (Yes, the "J. Michael" always stood for "Joe Michael," as in Joe's Comics.) with John Romita Jr., during the Shade arc, I believe. Or was it the Shathra arc?


Anyways, Spidey gets to the circus to save the maggia's wives and children. Mr. Negative is there to unleash the poison gas on them, and sics his henchmen, the Inner Demons, on Spidey, to distract him. Spidey beats henchmen, quips slightly obnoxiously. Saves day.

Pretty standard stuff, but check out this panel:

Spider-sense panels are back guys! With all the glory of the squiggly-lines-over-the-head! I love Spidey's head anatomy here!


In all the chaos, however, Mr. Negative kidnaps a kid. Spider-Man confronts Mr. Negative. Mr. Negative agrees to let kid go. . .


Spidey agrees:
So wait. . . this means Mr. Negative can figure out Spider-Man's identity. Blood does contain your DNA, right? But what possible relevance can this have, after Peter just made a deal with the devil to erase it? Any threat to Spider-Man's identity will be useless, because we all know that his identity won't be spoiled, not after Marvel took such. . . devilish methods of protecting it!
I hope you have a good way of explaining this, Slott, as I don't expect you to tuck this under the rug and hope everyone forgets about it.

Anyways, Spidey takes phone, calls May, at which point. . .
Holy potstickers! Mr. Negative is Mr. Li, Aunt May's boss at the FEAST soup kitchen!

Maybe my paragraph about the DNA and Spider-Man's identity makes sense, because then Mr. Negative can use the blood to figure out it's Peter, then covertly attack May. That definitely works as a story.

After that reveal, we go back to Spidey, sensing his Spider-Tracer. It's the Spider-Mugger. . .

. . .who's dead. . .

. . .which makes me sad =(.

Two police officers catch Spidey with Spider-Mugger's corpse (RIP), and one of them, Vin Gonzalez, is about to apprehend Spidey. His partner, however, Alan O'Neil, is more apprehensive, allowing Spidey to get away.

I think these two guys are going to recur in the upcoming stories, so don't forget those names. We end with:
Sigh. This has been done before. Authorities hate Spidey, Villain of the Month tries to kill Spidey. Next month has All New Villain. The Runaways had a nice little quote, and I think this is as relevant as ever:
Please. New York, New Wave, New Avengers. . . 'new' is just another way of saying 'old.'
Right on, Nico Minoru.

But hey, there's some interesting story potential with Spidey being on good terms with the, uh, mob.

The arc could've used more Peter Parker in my opinion. We know where he's at in life right now, but what I really want to know is where he wants to be and what he'll do to get there. Peter really doesn't seem to have a sense of purpose or direction in his civilian life. Which is bad. I really hope that the writers give him something interesting to do. Last time, he was a teacher, and we got some fantastic stories out of that, and I'd like to see what's next.

There seems to be too much focus on "what's next." and not "what's now." What the writers need to do is ground Peter Parker. Just because you've given him a status quo doesn't mean he has a reason to wake up every morning. He can't possibly be web-swinging as Spider-Man all the time, unless you really want to capitalize on the "Hey kids! This is Spider-Man! Buy him because you saw him on TV!" profits. I want to see Peter Parker do something with his life! It should have meaning beyond being Spider-Man!

I await patiently.

Overall, this is a story that feels done. Nothing seems too new about it. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing innovative. It sure as hell doesn't pay respect to Spidey's continuity. A standard Spidey story, which isn't anything bad, but I sure wish something better came from the man who gave us the MODOK-defeating Squirrel Girl and 4th-wall-breaking She-Hulk. He'll be back on May, and I sure look forward to that.

If you're gonna get this, I suggest waiting for the trade. The stories aren't that bad, but they haven't been WOW material. I suspect Brand New Day will be collected in a 12-issue Hardcover, or, to capitalize on profits, two 6-issue Premiere Hardcovers. Both, probably!

Next month: Guggenheim and Larroca on Jackpot!

Also, some goblin-looking guy called Menace.

But hopefully lots of Jackpot!
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