Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Brian Reber & Pete Pantazis
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date February 26 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
“Breaking News” concludes with its third issue, as Spider-Man’s interview with J. Jonah Jameson is interrupted by Chance, a mercenary who is also in charge of a secret super-villain casino. This had been a fun arc, much to my surprise. One thing I learned from this arc is how much I love Nick Spencer’s use of Jonah, and that I like his new chemistry with Spider-Man. Nick not only dusts off the cobwebs from the rarely used, almost forgotten character of Chance from this arc, but he also recently brought in the likes of Norah Winters and the Foreigner, two other characters from the Spider-Man stock that had been missing-in-action for years. This arc has found much for them to do (and yes, I am aware Spencer brought the Foreigner back before this arc, but that wasn’t that long ago). This may be the first full arc from start to finish I’ve really liked from his run in a long time, but its now without a nit-pick here and there.
My biggest gripes would be the humor. Now, Spider-Man has always been about his humor and jokes (this is brought up by Jonah himself in this very arc), but I found the humor in this issue to be a little cartoonish, almost even buffoonish. The way Chance overacts when he’s laid out on the floor after being decked by Spider-Man…was very cringy. Same with the Jack O’Lanterns* showing up to whisk him away. My biggest gripe is towards the end of the issue, where we see Peter’s roommate, Randy, and his reaction to Norah (Randy’s ex-girlfriend) dropping by; where Randy is seen sitting in fear with his legs hiked up to his chest all because his ex came to visit. Seriously? Randy has never been written as a such a weak character…hell, he’s the one that broke up with Norah! After kicking ass to save her life**! He was the “victor” in their break-up! And the sight of seeing her again renders him a quivering baby…? I guess this was to reinforce the idea that Norah is bad news…except during all of her appearances prior to appearing in Spencer’s run she has been nothing more than an airhead one minute, and a reckless workaholic the next; I’m not really sure where Randy’s getting this whole “evil, most terrifying woman” vibe from here. These instances are played for laughs, but they all irked me, personally.
I won’t lie. Compared to the both of the past two issues, this one was my least favorite of the bunch, but…I still liked it enough. Once Spider-Man’s “Chance Encounter” with Chance was all said and done, the issue got back to being about Jonah and podcasting with the web-slinger, although as a quick montage. I get it, we just had (almost) a full issue of these two sitting in a recording room dishing it out verbally over a microphone, we don’t need to stretch it out. But even during this abridged segment, I still liked it a lot, as well as seeing quick shots of ordinary citizens all over the city eventually listening in on the episode. Before the book ends, we are given a reminder of two other plots that have been woven in and out (and in and out and in and out) of this run; the Clairvoyant device and the Chameleon, where the latter I honestly thought had been wrapped up and taken off the drawing board. I figured his motivations during the Dr. Doom/2099 arc was the Chameleon’s big move that he vowed to enact (at the end of the Hunted story, specifically ASM #23), but I guess…we haven’t seen the Chameleon’s big move yet. Okay, guess I’ll re-add the Chameleon sub-plot to the laundry list of what’s been happening (and still occurring) during this run.
But to get back to my pros, outside of the instances of hammy dialogue, the writing is fine, and I did have fun reading this story. The revelation at the very end didn’t really bug me, much to my surprise. I’ve been wanting some of the plots that are still brewing in this run to finally get wrapped up instead of adding more to the pot, but I’m actually willing to take the bait with this one. I don’t have to remind anyone who have been following my ASM reviews of the last two issues how much I love Coello’s art, but just in case, let me say I am a big fan. We now get another issue of Iban drawing Spidey in action, and Coello can draw some great fight sequences. The colorists Brain Reber and Pete Pantaizis complement Coello and brings everything together.
*Literally every time I turn around there’s yet ANOTHER new Jack O’Lantern, and now we have a whole new group of them
**See Spider-Island: Deadly Foes
Nick Spencer’s finishes his latest arc with a solid issue that benefits greatly from a fantastic art team.