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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 240

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at a great two-part story by Mark Waid and Marcos Martin in Amazing Spider-Man #578 and 579 titled “Unscheduled Stop”…

Enjoy!

Before I begin, let me note that I think Mark Waid did a really good job both in coming up with an interesting scenario to place Spider-Man into and for aptly demonstrating Spider-Man’s personality in his reaction TO the scenario.

Top notch stuff.

I mention this now because I fear I might give Marcos Martin too much of the credit for this story, because Martin is so unbelievably awesome in this two-parter that I might lose track of the great work Waid did.

Okay, on to the story!

The basic concept is set-up nicely at the beginning of the first part…

Once on the subway, Spider-Man learns that the train he is on also holds the jury for a mobster’s trial and, well, somebody figures killing the jury might give the bad guy a mistrial…

The surviving passengers are led by Spider-Man until they learn that the person who put them into this predicament is still out there…

What an introduction!!!

So yeah, at the end of the issue, it’s your standard “we’re trapped in a tunnel that is slowly flooding and there is no way out and there’s also a super-villain here who wants to kill us” deal, and Waid makes the most of his classic set-up.

Martin, by the way, has an epic page pretty much every other page – it’s remarkable how good he is.

I will try not to spoil much about the second part (I won’t even mention what surprising new addition to the Spider-Man supporting cast is a member of the jury), except to offer up this following panel…

Marcos Martin, people, MARCOS MARTIN!!!

This story is available in a couple of different Spider-Man collections (the individual trades are collected into bigger Brand New Day hardcovers), so there’s two different ways to get a collection with this story in it! Plus, the issues aren’t so old that you can’t just go out there and buy them individually. This is a great short story and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it (if you like Spider-man stories, that is).

24 Comments

This was one of the first Spider Man comics I picked up in years. I was sold from the first page!

Spidey’s been dead to me since the whole Mephisto deal.

It genuinely saddens me that they felt they had to erase the marriage before writing fun stories again.

That rat picture? EWWW…

Gee, I hope nobody thought to pick Spidey’s pocket while he was holding up the tunnel in his shredded civvies.

Stephane Savoie

August 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

Blah blah blah satanic divorce. That story sucked, these stories are good. I like good comics. Can we just get past this?
This two-parter really jumped out at me as demonstrating the relaunch as capable of top notch Spidey stories. Martin is amazing, and Waid’s recent Spider-Man storied have shown a great affinity for the character. Highly recommended.

Stephane Savoie

August 29, 2010 at 7:47 am

That was snippy: I apologize.

Sigh… I can’t help how I feel. Ever since that story came out, I see two Spideys… Pre and post-betrayal-of-everything-character-ever-stood-for.

It doesn’t matter to me how good a Spidey story is now. To me, he’s permanently damaged goods. I avoid him like the plague. Heck, I’m only buying New Avengers right now because my love of the Thing outweighed my total hatred for Post BOECESF Spidey. Barely.

This two-parter was the only ASM arc I picked up, and it was terrific. Waid writes a great Spidey, and Martin is an absolute monster. You could sit and stare at his pages for hours without getting bored. The staging, the body language, the panel layouts, the details — it’s master class work, start to finish.

Martin’s art is a strange fit with Humberto Ramos’ and Stefano Caselli’s, but Dan Slott’s lucky to have him as part of the artistic rotation on the upcoming Amazing restructuring.

Martin is great. He even manages some unique storytelling devices and thematic choices without overwhelming the story with “Oh, look how clever I am!”

As for One More Day, it was terrible, and I understand it still stinging. But at this point, you’re only screwing yourself out of good comics. if you really only like Spidey as a married man, then this stuff isn’t for you, but if you’re really worried about him making a deal with the devil, it’s not like it ever comes up.

Martin is great. He even manages some unique storytelling devices and thematic choices without overwhelming the story with “Oh, look how clever I am!”

Great description.

His Spider-Man is a lot like early Ditko in that regard, only, of course, with the modern sensibility of “you can use the whole page if you like” that Ditko didn’t really have.

Incredible. Marcos Martin is the best thing to happen to Spider-Man in a long time, probably the best thing to happen in the art department since Ditko. I often hear critics refer vaguely to an artist’s “storytelling ability,” and in most cases it’s unclear what exactly is meant by this, but with Martin, there’s nothing vague or unclear about it. You can easily point to, for instance, the page where Spider-Man finds the metro card and observe how Martin’s layout imitates the motion and trajectory of the card in air. Or when the tunnel collapses and Martin switches to close-up shots to create a sense of confinment.

While these are not outstanding examples unique to Martin, what sets him apart is that he designs almost every page in this fashion, with tone and motion in mind, and doing so heightens the reader’s sense of being immersed in the fiction. If you think about it, “Spider-Man trapped in a tunnel” could very easily have been a visually boring story in the hands of lesser artists, a talking heads issue, cuz, y’know, it’s dark and hard to see down there. But instead Martin turns in the first classic of the BND era.

(Snark Warning) It always disheartens me to read fans in the letter column bemoaning the art of Martin (and Pulido and oddly enough not John Romita Jr) for being “too cartoony.” Cmon people, Spider-Man has had what, like seven different cartoon series made about him, and even before any of them was fighting guys with names like “Mysterio” and “the Green Goblin.” Do you really think “cartoony” art deviates from the core concepts of Spider-Man or that it’s tonally inappropriate for a story featuring the Shocker? You would really sacrifice Martin’s fluid and expressive storytelling for a few more unnecessary “realism” lines? Really?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 29, 2010 at 9:05 am

I tend to pick up ASM on an arc-to-arc basis; this, the Hammerhead stuff by Kelly and Bachalo, and the Dan Slott/Marcos Martin Mysterio three-parter are by far the three very best stories of the BND era. The weakest stuff has been, for me, at least: the excruciating Grim Hunt, which even superb scripting from Joe Kelly couldn’t save from a meretricious concept and plot; “Peter Parker, Unemployed,” which really stretched its goofy plot contrivances to arrive at a topical status quo for Peter; and the rather curious deck-clearing exercise that was “Character Assassination,” which wiped out the bulk of the book’s brand-new supporting cast for the sake of some undercooked mystery plotting.

Weirdly, it’s the long-term arcs that have been suffered, mainly due to absolutely horrible pacing. This is largely, I suspect, because the weekly format with loads of rotating writers doesn’t work nearly as well without more than one protagonist arc to juggle. Notice that most of the good work on the book’s ongoing plots has happened in miniseries spin-offs with a single creative team and a finite number of issues in which to wrap things up.

In contrast,. the relatively self-contained stuff has worked well: the blessing and the curse of the current book is that it’s quite up-front about locking Spider-Man into a late Bronze Age status quo. The stories that are meant to be larks that en where they started have been fun, good comics. The stuff that tries to wring drama out of big life changes for the characters has generally fallen flat. It’s a comic that does disposable pop singles a lot better than it does important concept albums.

I can hardly picture Spidey WITHOUT cartoony art (though Lark has, of course, kicked ass on the book). I guess it depends on what we mean by “Cartoony”, but I always took that to mean bright, clean (simple line work) and energetic. Well, that covers Ditko, the Romitas (more so Sr. than Jr., but still Jr.) and Bagley, who have to be the definitive Spidey-artists. Indeed, Romita Sr. and Bagley Spideys are almost the only ones used for liensed merchandise.

““Peter Parker, Unemployed,” which really stretched its goofy plot contrivances to arrive at a topical status quo for Peter; and the rather curious deck-clearing exercise that was “Character Assassination,” which wiped out the bulk of the book’s brand-new supporting cast for the sake of some undercooked mystery plotting.”

I disagree on both, and like to talk Spidey, so here we go: “Unemployed” was, honestly, little more than a subplot in the book. Peter’s bounced from job to job since BND started, and gotten fired a bunch since then, too. This doesn’t really feel any different, right down to the fact that it’s only really mentioned in the first two pages of each issue before a bunch of Rhinos fight or something. It honestly seems to me that the writers were just doing another “Parker Luck” plot point, then the Might Marvel Marketing Wurlitzer got wind of it and turned it into a topical stunt. But in practice, it hasn’t been any bigger than any of his other recent bouts with unemployment.

As for “Character Assassination”, I’d argue that it only really got rid of the mayoral candidates and Vin. The lab-tech girl is still around, and Lilly’s been back-and-forth since then. In some ways, I’d even argue that it PAID OFF those characters, not that it really got rid of them; their stories came to an end, and I kinda like that, since Spidey himself (and the top-tier supportings- Jonah, MJ, Betty, Aunt May) can’t, really. Anyway, Vin was replaced with Michelle, and it’s led to some great new ideas for old cast members, so I’ll live.

I’d say the biggest misstep has been “The Gauntlet”. They clearly didn’t have solid ideas for reintroducing some of the classic villains, and I don’t think Van Lente is quite ready for the flagship title. Plus, they never really sold the idea that this was just one thing after another beating Peter down- it didn’t seem like that much more was happening than, y’know, any other point in his life.

A little thing, I know, but I loved seeing the Spider signal again.

These issues rank among the best Spidey stories of all time. It’s so well made, and the build up to that rat panel is perfect.

Damn Cronin making me want to buy Spider-Man comics again…

I think Spider-Man has been fantastic ever since One More Day (which was itself pretty bad, but you can’t let that influence your opinion of what came after). It’s probably the best it’s been in years. I do think the bigger epic stories have been the worst (New Ways To Die, American Son, Grim Hunt, and to a lesser degree Character Assassination), but overall the stories have mostly ranged from decent to great, and more importantly, it actually feels like Spider-Man, which was never the case under Straczynski (even when his stories were good, they never felt like Spider-Man stories). It must be said that the recent Lizard story was absolutely horrible, and there have been a few other stinkers, but for the most part it’s been great.

@colby
I actually liked the Gantlet quite a bit. The Rhino story was very good. The Electro story wasn’t bad. The Mysterio story was good. I really liked “Shed” (the Lizard story). I wasn’t too enthused with the new Vulture and I was disappointed with Grim Hunt. I liked the beginning of Grim Hunt, but I hated the end.
I also disagree with you about Van Lente. His story involving the Chameleon has been my favorite story of Brand New Day and I also enjoyed his Sandman story (although not as much). I also liked him in “Web of Spider-man”. The Extremist was a cool new villain.

I have disliked Marcos Martin’s work all along, and the outpouring of love for it has just made me dislike it more.

Having said THAT…. I think he is the perfect artist for those two page back-ups running now. Nice emphasis on design (which is his strength) rather than character (which is NOT).

Citizen Scribbler

August 30, 2010 at 9:28 am

Interesting. I live in the neighborhood depicted here (Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn) and the station entrance depicted in the second page posted here SHOULD be the Borough Hall station as it looks almost exactly like a particular section of Joralemon Street. The Clark Street station is nearer to the Brooklyn Bridge, but it doesn’t have an outdoors entrance/exit .

Still, it’s nice to see that the artist and/or writer are clearly familiar with the area.

-Citizen Scribbler

Citizen Scribbler

August 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

Oh- and it ought to be a little more racially mixed too. Blacks and whites live and work in that area nearly equally and that panel depicts mostly white people (at least the folks not obscured by their umbrellas).

-Citizen Scribbler

When people say “too cartoony,” they don’t mean “clean” or “simple.” They mean “non-representational,” and there’s an implied meaning of “ugly” (subjective). For some readers, part of comics’ appeal is the escapist quality of the art, with characters that are aesthetically pleasing. “Realism” can run the gamut from Alex Ross to Alex Toth—it’s not the *number* of lines, it’s the shape they describe. To those readers, something that looks like a cross between anime, Bruce Timm, and Rob Liefeld is not going to satisfy them. YMMV.

Yep, this story was incredible, Marcos Martin is incredible, and I think everyone in the world would be better off if we just put One More Day behind us and MOVE ON with our lives.

Can’t support Spider-Man because you don’t like the whole Mephisto thing? Damn shame, because you’re withholding support for some of the best and most awesome creators to work on Spider-Man, ever, right now.

Well, to be fair, I’m also currently irritated with Marvel for cancelling Spider-Girl and giving her codename to Arana before the final issue is even out.

Geez, at least let the body get cold first, people…

Well, in Young Allies, Arana has repeatedly told people not to call her that. She still calls herself Arana and it doesn’t look to me like the Spider-Girl name is going to stick.

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