The Amazing Spider-Man: The Substitute Parts 1 & 2
Writer Christos Gage
Art Reilly Brown
Inks Victor Olazaba
Covers Ed McGuinness and Morry Hollowell
I’ve been a rather vocal advocate of the post Brand New Day Spider-Man, that’s no secret. I believe it really breathed a bit of fresh air into the character and helped liven things up a bit. The problem is…well, it wasn’t needed. Seriously, look at any one of the best stories to come out of Brand New Day, then factor the marriage back in and it changes….absolutely nothing. The problem is, whenever the character focuses on the changes (namely Spidey’s new Mary Su–uh, I mean girlfriend, Carlie Cooper), everyone has to suddenly exposit how great and amazing everyone is, in order to drive home the point that you should like this person. But there is absolutely no reason to; everyone is either dull and uninspired, or a complete dick, just for the sake of progressing the story. So when one of Marvel’s best under the radar gems out right now, Avengers Academy, was annouced for a two part cross-over in Amazing Spider-Man….well, I was concerned. And that’s because for the past several issues, Spidey’s been acting like…well…
Holy crap, Spider-Man was such an unbelievable tool in those issues. I can’t even really begin to explain it (and, in fact, am going to save my over analysis of this for another issue), but he was just a massive, unlikable tool. For three issues! I’ve defended Brand New Day since it started, and I’ve appreciated a lot of the better stories, but lately he’s just been a huge dick.
Thankfully, that changed (for the most part) with the crossover story. Spidey still starts off with his tool-like behavior at the storyline’s beginning, but as soon as he convinces everyone to let him teach the class (by whining, begging and being a nuisance), we get back to the Spider-Man we know and love: he’s awkward, insecure, and a big damn hero, saving the kids when Psycho Man arrives and takes over their minds. But again, by being a terrific Spider-Man story, The Substitute proves the inherent flaws within Brand New Day: it simply wasn’t needed. There was no need for Spider-Man’s marriage to be sacrificed to the devil in order to tell this story, something that has been prevalent in almost every single issue since Brand New Day that has been worth reading.
In the end, The Substitute is a welcome refreshment in a sea of bad Spider-Man stories that have been cropping up lately, mostly in relation to his appearances in FF. Strange, because the Spider-Man presented in FF is an entirely different person; someone we root for, who doesn’t make our skin crawl, and who is entertaining to read. That person appears here for a brief respite, fighting to what may be his death and reminding us all that he’s a noble hero who strives to prove he’s worthy of the title. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see this Spider-Man, but for the time being I’m not going to get my hopes up.