It’s almost hard to imagine that this is the 10th issue of “Amazing Spider-Man” since 'One More Day' upturned the whole Spidey-verse, and yet here it is. This issue sees returning Spider-Man writer Zeb Wells join Chris Bachalo, an artist new to the character, to answer one of those questions on everyone’s lips: just how does the 'Brand New Day' Spider-Man fit into the New Avengers?
The answer is. . . not very neatly. As the letters page admits, the lateness of 'One More Day' has snagged this issue on a loose continuity nail, as Dr. Strange appears to 'Brand New Day' Spidey, despite the good ol’ Doc having already made a self-imposed exit in "New Avengers" while Petey was still, er, Back in Black. Man, it’s hard to keep up with all these event names sometimes. Anyway, we can forgive this error - it’s an unavoidable problem that sometimes reality gets in the way of comics continuity, and it does no-one any good to obsess over it. Though, I’m not so magnanimous that I’ll let it pass without mentioning it.
So, despite the fact that it’s not really able to have occurred, this issue shows the first time that Brand New Spidey can be seen directly interacting with the wider Marvel Universe -- and who better to appear in the first Brand New team-up than Wolverine? The two characters have always had an interesting dynamic, and Wells immediately plays it up in an amusing breakfast scene where Peter’s looking for the prize in a box of cereal while Wolverine chugs down beer. Say this for Marvel, they’ve really bought the humor back to Spider-Man.
The tone of Wells’ first issue is noticeably different from the previous nine, which felt a little homogenized in style. So far, Wells’ issues feel the most like his individual hand can be seen in the story. Perhaps it’s just because he’s got a chance to use characters who haven’t appeared in 'Brand New Day' yet, or perhaps it’s Bachalo’s presence on art. Usually an X-Men mainstay, Bachalo’s forays in the wider Marvel Universe are long overdue, and his work takes on an incredibly fresh feeling as a result.
The usual criticisms of Bachalo’s artwork can still be applied, though he’s reined in his style wilder tendencies significantly. The storytelling is still occasionally obscured during action sequences, but there’s little hint of the messy visuals that he’s occasionally guilty of. On a pure visual level, it looks amazing. The issue takes place during an ongoing snowstorm, and Bachalo’s whited-out panel borders really contribute to the feeling of coldness that permeates the story.
If any element of the issue really fails to meet expectations, it’s the villains, who so far appear to be some fairly generic Mayan spirits of some kind. It feels a little bit like a monster-of-the-week "Buffy" episode. The villains aren’t really the centerpiece of the issue, however, so we can let it slide for now. The heroes are the star of the piece, and in fact, after seeing Wells’ take on Wolverine, I almost want to see how he’d fare on his solo title. With the right mix of comedy, bad luck and old-fashioned action, Wells easily sustains the high standard of Brand New Day’s stories, and there’s no sign of the Spidey juggernaut slowing down just yet.