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Wow, how Spidey has moved on! I think this is the first time in a while that I have ventured into a really new and up to date Spider-Man comic collection in a while, and this one has plenty of modern references as well as moving the web-spinning, wall-crawling friendly neighbourhood superhero having moved along in his personal and professional life.
Now a firm members of the Avengers, Marvel's elite crime fighting superhero squad, and with the latest in a string of beautiful girlfriends, Spider-Man/Peter Parker is glossier than ever! This collection gathers a few consecutive issues together to give us a bit of a steady story that starts with Spidey leading the Avengers against one of his own villains, Doctor Octopus, whose giant octopus machines are threatening to destroy the city. Once this is thwarted, we get down to the real story going on, which centres around Peter Parker's new job at a top scientific base and Spider-Man having a latest battle with the Kingpin and his henchmen.
The story threads remain similar in pace and tone, the wisecracks still coming thick and fast and helping to smooth along the action elements by giving some dialogue to them. What I particularly liked was the way that the action is certainly dominant but the writers and artists seem to spend more time on Parker's life than anything else, bringing the superhero down to earth. It tackles issues such as unemployment, girl trouble, homelessness, professional sabotage, jealousy and many others, and I find a lot of the quicker page turning moments where when Parker and the villains were on the page, not necessarily where Spider-Man is featured.
The artwork is almost overkill at times, though. There is certainly a high level of skill involved, and all stops have been pulled out for this to happen, but I was slightly confused and found I was having to reread some bits when I wanted it to go faster. It's different to Watchmen, for example, where the intricate detail is one of the main draws. Here, it needs a faster page turn time, and it doesn't completely deliver. There were also a couple of pages where instead of the left page then the right being read, it was a double page spread. However, the spread was in the middle of the spine and confusing as to which bit to read next. This combined with the immense amount of action and dialogue on each page completely interrupted what had been a fast flow at times, and even made me put it down, lacking concentration, and not just once.
This didn't affect what was essentially a well written and well presented comic series overall. I think that the main part of the tale is really interesting, and it makes me want to pick things up and carry on with th next issue, and I guess that's what it's all about. They've spent a lot of time trying to make this different, and by and large apart from the occasional niggle, they succeed. Recommended.