Although presented as a sort-of-sequel to the classic “Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!” story, this arc has turned out to involve a rather different take on the character, as well as the rather strange choice to involve Captain Universe alongside him. Personally, I was hoping for a greater focus on Cain Marko, and so far this arc has felt like a sequel in name alone.
Still, Stern’s take on Spider-Man is enjoyable; he cracks jokes, uses his power inventively and isn’t afraid to outsmart an enemy on a completely different power scale to him. His Juggernaut is similarly well-realized, hot-headed to a fault, but not an unreasonable, cackling villain. Captain Universe, on the other hand, is a weak member of the cast -- a ranting personality and motivation-free entity with little in the way of an interesting hook. Perhaps this will be remedied (any maybe his identity will be someone interesting) but as of this issue, there’s a shade too little to him, save for the fact that he’s a little green in the use of his new powers.
Reading the issue, I find myself at least thankful that Weeks’ art is there to save any scenes I find mediocre. Weeks’ Spidey work here is somewhere between Romita and Ditko, with the heroic posing of the former, and the quirky panel layout and spindly character design of the latter. Weeks has been hanging around the spider-titles for years, and as a result his name has become an instant guarantee for top-quality artwork on the series.
The backup strip by Waid sees Peter attempt to give a phone interview while in the midst of a battle with the Absorbing Man. It’s a one-joke strip, but its position as a backup means it doesn’t have time to wear out its welcome before it’s over. It’s exactly the sort of strip you might expect to see in books like “Web of Spider-Man,” “Amazing Spider-Man Family,” or “Amazing Spider-Man Extra.” Frankly, it makes far more sense to run it here. Personally, I’d be far happier to see a permanent back-up feature in the book, rather than a monthly collection of back-ups.
Overall, then, it’s a fairly high quality issue. The variety of characters is unusual, but makes a refreshing change from the recent parade of reinvented Spidey villains that allegedly comprises “The Gauntlet” -- indeed, this issue seems so divorced from that plot, with scant mention of the regular supporting cast, that one wonders if it wasn’t some sort of inventory. Still, a book with Spidey’s rapid schedule can get away with that once in a while, and although this comic doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does at least give it a satisfying spin that justifies the cover price.