In "Avenging Spider-Man" #18, Christopher Yost welcomes Marco Checchetto into the artist's chair by giving him a story that features the Superior Spider-Man teaming up with Thor. The heroic duo pairs up to take on an amped up Electro bears quite the grudge against the Thunder God.
Yost does a good job of balancing the expected voice of Spider-Man with the sardonic tone of Doctor Octopus, frequently having the "additional" thoughts of Octavius spill into caption boxes that continue from the word balloons spoken out loud. That choice adds some dark comedy to the overall tenor of the book and serves to be quite revelatory regarding Spidey-Ock's assessment of his allies. Naturally, the arrogance of Octavius bleeds through so much so that even Thor, who has no self-confidence issues, notices the shift in tone and measure of snark coming from his Avengers teammate. Through it all, Yost's Thor puts Chris Hemsworth's voice in my mind for the Odinson. Thor isn't the overly burdened warrior depicted in Jason Aaron's "Thor: God of Thunder," but he doesn't have to be here. This is an easy-reading, inviting adventure that makes a nice case for changing the title of the book to "Marvel Team-Up."
Despite the edgier, darker style of Checchetto in comparison to previous artist Paco Medina, "Avenging Spider-Man" #18 is fun and buoyant. If anything, the story helps lighten the artist's work. Checchetto's storytelling is as strong as it was all throughout his run on "Punisher" and he has a fantastic sense of how to render Spider-Man's movements. Coupled with Rachelle Rosenberg's dynamic coloring, the visuals for "Avenging Spider-Man" #18 adeptly match the story, showcasing Checchetto's talent quite nicely. Checchetto does a fine job drawing Thor and the artist clearly has fun with the settings and ancillary characters inserted into this story. My only gripe on the visuals of this adventure would be that Electro's word balloons could have taken on a different appearance once his powers changed, but I can certainly appreciate Joe Caramagna's consistency applied to the characters throughout this issue.
This title has really been quite fun. The three issues to this point have been entertaining and individually packaged as strong standalone stories, but with larger undercurrents sweeping throughout. While some of the conclusions, including the one in "Avenging Spider-Man" #18 are standard-issue comic book wrap-ups, Yost is delivering a great read for fans while exploring and introducing aspects of the Marvel Universe to readers. For me, personally, this scratches the "Marvel Team-Up" itch and provides a concise, approachable alternative read to "Superior Spider-Man." For younger Spider-Man fans looking to get more traditional Spider-Man adventure than they might find in "Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man," or readers with otherwise compromised comic book budgets, "Avenging Spider-Man" is filled with dynamic character interactions and traditional comic book adventures. It's a monthly release and a $2.99 book to boot, so it fits in nicely to most budgets. With new regular artist Marco Checchetto climbing onboard, "Avenging Spider-Man" #18 is a great place to start and a wonderful sample of things to come.