Friday, November 25, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #621: "The Gauntlet: Out for Blood"

*** (three of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "You can do whatever a spider can, right?"  "Yeah?"  "When you can do whatever a man can, call me."  "Yeah.  She's a keeper. Someone you bring home to the folks."  -- Felicia expressing her dissatisfaction with Spidey's injury, and Spidey expressing his dissatisfaction with Felicia

Spidey enlists the Black Cat to help him retrieve the vial of his blood (collected WAY back in Mr. Negative's original "Brand New Day" arc) from Mr. Negative so that he's no longer susceptible to the Devil's Breath poison.  Aunt May firmly evicts the Reilly girls and Harry, who moves into MJ's place.  Carlie and Detective Watanabe discuss the aftermath of the explosion caused by Mysterio, with Carlie taking a sample of the Devil's Breath poison Mr. Negative had released.  While Spidey fights the Inner Demons (and gets his ass handed to him by Mr. Negative), the Cat retrieves the poison.  Carlie, meanwhile, locks her father in a storage unit with her and releases the Devil's Breath, allegedly keyed to her blood, to determine if the man saying he's her father is, indeed, her father.  He is (revealed when he attacks her for her gas mask, only to be told that it's actually knock-out gas), so she turns him into the police.  Carlie confronts Peter, telling her that he has one more chance to impress her.  Meanwhile, Curt Connors is revealed to be under pressure at the chemical firm where he's working to produce something with a "bleeding edge."

The Review
The issue wraps up a few dangling plot lines and moves them forward:  Pete retrieves his blood from  Mr. Negative (with the help of the Black Cat), Carlie resolves matters with her dad and Peter, and Harry moves into MJ's.  It's a solid issue on its own, but I also thank Slott for moving the ball down the field a bit on some tiresome sub-plots.  However, "The Gauntlet" is proving to be...boring, to be honest.  The Rhino story is, for me, the only real stand-out issue.  The rest are pretty pro forma stories about Spidey fighting some classic members of his rogues' gallery.  I can't really say that it's been anything special.

The Good
1) Harry!  MJ!  Hurrah!  I mean, I don't want them to date or anything, but I like that they're back.  The Web Heads (and the Spidey Brain Trust before them) had to keep MJ in California to let the "Brand New Day" status quo set, so to speak.  But, it seems enough time has passed that they get to bring back MJ and return to the halcyon days of Harry and MJ and, well, Gwen, but, you know, the whole gang living out of each other's pockets.  Those days have clearly been the inspiration behind "Brand New Day" so I think (hope) it'll be fun to see them resurrected here.

2) I'm glad we're getting somewhere with the Carlie/Peter business.  Her occasional tirades against Peter have been kind of tiresome, so we seem to have a chance here for them to engage with one another in a more stable way.  But, given that Peter is now more or less juggling the Black Cat, Carlie, Mary Jane, Michele, and Norah, who knows where things are going to end?

The Unknown
OK, this arc is the last one in which I assess the failure of the Kravinoffs to reveal themselves as behind "The Gauntlet" as "The Unknown" and not "The Bad."  I'm not saying they have to reveal themselves to Peter.  But, "The Gauntlet" seemed like it was going to be some coordinated attack on Spidey, when, in fact, it still seems pretty random.  At this point, I'm thinking that the marketing department made the editors randomly call this series of story arcs "The Gauntlet" in the hope to convince people it was an event.

The Bad
OK, this corrupted Aunt May storyline is already tired, and it's only three or so issues long.  I have a feeling that all May's insults are essentially going to be forgotten, much like "Peter's" actions when he had his life hijacked by the Chameleon.  But, it's still not pleasant to watch and I'd kind of like it to be over as soon as possible (much like everyone living through it).

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