Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
New meets old in the pages of Amazing Spider Man #38. J. Jonah Jameson has traded his Spidey-hatred for a newfound respect. But could that somehow be even worse?
Nick Spencer returns as the series story-spinner, this time teamed up with artist Iban Coello. Our story opens on J. Jonah Jameson, the rage-prone newspaper mogul and ex-mayor, entertaining a job offer from a former employee. It’s the millennial-run startups, clickbait headlines, Twitter outrage, and pets at work. But will JJ adapt to the times?
It’s a clever development, showing off one of the unique and delightful tropes of this Spencer run: respect for the old school and the “deep cuts” mixed with a healthy dose of modern reality.
This story also gives Spencer the chance to wink at his own past encounters with online outrage. In 2017, anger over Spencer’s Secret Empire series — remember Captain America declaring “Hail Hydra”? — spilled over into attacks on Spencer himself. In this issue, Spencer speaks his mind about clickbait-driven cancel culture. We find heroes and villains taking the battle to the keyboard as headlines claim Captain America is still Hydra. It’s played for laughs, but the criticism lands.
Of course, we don’t spend this whole issue in the newsroom. We also witness Spidey rob a bank (don’t worry, there’s an explanation. Haven’t you read a Spider-Man comic?).
The other third of this book, spliced between it all, features a flying super-villain casino in the skies above New York City.
I’ll confess, I let out a bit of a groan when I saw this issue’s casino-themed cover. I’ve enjoyed the Spencer run, but “super villains in mundane social situations” has turned into a bit of a schtick. We’ve had trivia night at the Bar With No Name. We’ve traversed the social politics of a feminist super villain squad.
It’s all good fun, perhaps in an issue or two, but these segments take up whole arcs. And for the duration of those arcs, real stakes and character development take a backseat. That’s what I fear for this story arc.
This Spidey run has worked best with Ottley on pencils. I have an inkling his Spider-Man will become an iconic version of the hero alongside MacFarlane’s and others. But Coello’s creative layouts give this issue refreshing energy. Apart from Ottley, he may be my favorite artist to tackle this run.
All in all, I’m still waiting for more from this series. It’s a lot of fun, but Spider-Man can be more than that. The first issues of Spencer’s run captured everything I love about this hero. I’m waiting to feel that again.
Amazing Spider-Man #38
Importance for the series4.0/10
- Nick Spencer's dialogue always delights
- Pets at work
- JJ interacting with millennials
- Sticking it to clickbait culture
- The "supervillain casino" bit feels tired
- The "Spidey gets blamed for a crime!" bit does, too