Wednesday, December 24, 2014

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #628

"VENGEANCE IS MINE!"
Writer: Roger Stern | Artist: Lee Weeks
Color Artist: Dean White | Letterer: VC'S Joe Carmanga
Assistant Editor: Tom Brennan | Editor: Stephen Wacker
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Web-Heads: Gale, Kelly, Slott, Van Lente, Waid & Wells

The Plot: Captain Universe announces his intention to kill Juggernaut, then hurls him out of the armory with Spider-Man hanging on for the ride. The captain pursues, but Spider-Man attacks him to keep the still-unconscious Juggernaut safe. Captain Universe flies around the city trying to be rid of the web-slinger, while Juggernaut comes around and goes in search of his foes.

Captain Universe leaves Spider-Man in a construction yard and heads under the Earth's surface, beckoned by the Uni-Force to repair a fault line. But when Juggernaut reaches the yard, Cap abandons his mission and returns to the surface to finish his vendetta against the unstoppable villain.

The Sub-Plots: None to be found this issue.

Continuity Notes: While Spider-Man and Captain Universe skirmish inside Juggernaut's cell, the video screen outside shows Juggernaut still unconscious with nobody nearby, thanks to the wall-crawler setting the security camera on a loop last issue.

Spider-Man throws Captain Universe off-guard by invoking the name of the Uni-Force, the entity behind the captain's Uni-Power. The Uni-Force is a sentient force which inhabits individuals during times of great universal need, and it once inhabited Spider-Man during 1990's "Acts of Vengeance" crossover, circa AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 327 - 329.


Uncle Rog Speaks: "The Peter Parker appearing in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is finally back to the way I like him. He's recognizable to me again -- in both his identities -- so all I have to worry about is writing good stories." -- Back Into the Web: Roger Stern on Amazing Spider-Man, Newsarama.com, 2008

My Thoughts: Note that my summaries of both last issue and this one are much shorter than my summaries of the previous Stern stories, and there are fewer sub-plots, to boot! The reason, of course, is that around the turn of the century, under orders from their then publisher, Bill Jemas, Marvel began "writing for the trade", structuring all their output into story arcs which could then be collected into single volumes. Writers were encouraged, even instructed, to pad out their stories if they couldn't fill an allotted number of issues. I don't think this practice is as prevalent or even as mandatory as it was fifteen years ago, but it's clear Stern must've been told by editor Steve Wacker to fill three issues with one story -- because this just isn't as dense a read as Stern's previous Spider-Man output.

The story is pretty much entirely action, though there are a couple nice moments to be found amid the chaos. Stern continues to draw upon past continuity to inform his current tale, this time recalling Spider-Man's experience with the Uni-Power during one of my favorite childhood storylines. We also get a very cool scene where Juggernaut reveals a heretofore unknown (to me, at least) aspect of his abilities: If he loses his helmet -- or presumably any part of his armor -- he can fashion a new one from whatever raw materials are at hand. It makes perfect sense given that Juggernaut's abilities are magical in nature, and it's a really neat idea.
I didn't speak to the artwork of Lee Weeks last time, so I'll say something about it now: I love it. This guy draws a fantastic Spider-Man. His wall-crawler is clearly influenced by John Romita, Jr.'s more recent work, but his art isn't as stylized or occasionally weird as Romita's can be these days. It's almost like Weeks is the artist Romita might have become if he hadn't drastically changed his style in the late eighties.

I should also note that the colors in this story are superb, really bringing a nice dark atmosphere to the proceedings. I usually don't like when colorists are given high-falutin' titles like "color artist", but here that description is perfect for Dean White. He truly is producing art.

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