Peter Parker has roommate troubles.
Having just wrapped up his first major Amazing Spider-Man storyline, writer Nick Spencer opts for a palate cleanser with this second, shorter arc. Issue #6 kicks off a goofy storyline that emphasizes the odd dynamic between Peter Parer and new roomie Fred Myers (aka – The Boomerang). The result is every bit the goofy interlude fans of Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man would expect, even if the art serves as a step down from the previous arc.
Unfortunately, despite what the cover indicates, there isn’t a great deal of emphasis on the Peter/Mary Jane romance in this issue. The focus is more on the growing friction between Peter and Fred and the former’s struggle to expose the latter without outing himself as Spider-Man. It’s a ore low-key conflict, but one that serves as a fun change of pace given the wacky spectacle of recent issues. The plot also takes some amusing turns along the way, resulting in Peter finding himself in the most unlikely place imaginable.
Spencer’s voice remains a terrific fit for the series. His writing is happy-go-lucky and light-hearted, with Spencer and guest artist Humberto Ramos embracing the “back to basics” nature of Peter’s new status quo and bringing an extra dose of fun back into Spidey’s world. At the same time, the narration has a wit all its own. Spencer has to slog through a fair amount of exposition and back-story in his captions for the sake of those not familiar with Secret Empire and other recent storylines, but he’s able to prevent the book from chugging in the process.
Unfortunately, the series does lose a certain something without artist Ryan Ottley at the helm. Humberto Ramos is certainly no strange to the Spider-Man franchise, but this issue doesn’t capture him at his best. For one thing, the dialogue-heavy approach and relative lack of costumed antics plays against Ramos’ love of big, bombastic superhero imagery and exaggerated anatomy. For another, many of his framing choices work against the story. He has a tendency to zoom out too far from his characters. Coupled with inconsistent background details and some noticeably rushed panels (including characters unnecessarily bathed in shadow), this is a case of the art not quite living up to the script.
The good news is that Superior Foes artist Steve Lieber stops by for a brief interlude focused on that team. The book takes on a far different tone in those few pages, with the same subtle charm and sense of humor that made Superior Foes such a joy to read. It’s just a shame that Lieber’s style is such a poor match for Ramos’. This issue would have worked that much better if Lieber were tapped to draw the whole thing himself.