Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #18
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Sandblasted Part 2 (Back in Black)
Spidey and the Sandman seek out the man with Ben Parker’s face!
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Todd Nauck
Inks: Robert Campanella
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Cory Petit
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: Mike Wieringo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Last issue, the Sandman tracked down his old enemy Spider-Man, not for a fight, but because he needed help. Flint Marko’s father is on death row, about to be executed for the murder of Ben Parker, and he needs Peter to help him clear dear old dad’s name. Meanwhile, someone who looks disturbingly like Ben has shown up in New York, and gunned down Spider-Man… 2211.
Only Peter David could take the utterly bleak “Back in Black” storyline and find a way to tell a story that’s actually fun. Although Peter isn’t making light of the situation, the classic Spider-Man sense of humor is evident in the fight scenes. Plus, for fans (like myself) who have always been mad about the arbitrary decision to make Sandman into a bad guy again after his reformation, seeing him and Peter fight side-by-side again is very entertaining. The scene with the two of them talking at Ben’s grave is absolutely great.
The only real problem with the issue is through no fault of the writer – the “Back in Black” delay clearly impacted the story, as there’s no mention of how or why Peter is in his black costume again anywhere in the issue. Now that Amazing Spider-Man #538 has finally come out, we get a quick mention on the “previously” page, but it was too late to work it into the story. As such, we’ve got a deep, brooding Spider-Man who can’t quite talk about why he’s deep and brooding, which makes for awkward reading.
Todd Nauck has long been a favorite artist of mine, and his style fits this story perfectly. He’s wonderful with any Spider-Man, but his cleaner, more classic style fits the black costume far better than more hyperdetailed styles used in some of the other titles. He helps make this a fun book, the best of “Back in Black” so far. Hopefully by next issue they’ll have caught up enough to get into the actual reasons for the black suit in the story.