One of the more enjoyable aspects of Peter Parker‘s transition to a globe-hopping, corporate Spider-Man is the partnership between Peter and Hobie Brown, who is better known to Spidey fans as the Prowler. Technically, Hobie is working for Peter and he’s in the dark about his boss’ duel identity, so it’s not quite an equal partnership. But it was clever way for writer Dan Slott to add the Prowler to the supporting cast and elevate his status in the Marvel Universe. This week’s Amazing Spider-Man #17 puts Hobie in the spotlight as both the Prowler and the substitute Spider-Man, and it signals some potentially big changes ahead. Whether those charges are good for Hobie remains to be seen.
This is the second part of Slott’s “Before Dead No More” story, which is leading into the next big Spider-Man event. Judging from this issue, Hobie is going to have a major role soon enough. Slott lets Hobie’s narration carry the issue, giving the character a compelling voice and motivation. Peter Parker is barely in this issue at all, in fact, but it still feels very much like a Spider-Man story when Hobie is wearing the Wall-Crawler’s costume.
Without giving away too much about the story, Hobie is given a mission by Peter to infiltrate a company called New U; what Hobie finds there is going to directly affect how Dead No More plays out. It’s a sign of how well Slott has characterized Hobie that there’s actually a sense of danger when he’s put up against the wall by this issue’s newest villain.
As you may have guessed from the cover, that is a new Electro shocking the hell out of the Prowler. As it turns out, she’s someone who has appeared in Amazing Spider-Man before as a one-off character. This time, Slott gives her more of a personality; she even carries the other half of the issue’s narration. This is a woman who desperately wanted to be a part of the supervillain underworld, and now she’s got her chance to be one of them. She’s not as developed as Hobie, but she could be a good ongoing foil for him. As origin stories go, this isn’t a bad one at all.
However, there are a few moments where Slott’s script stumbles. The Pokémon Go jokes are terrible and wildly out of place with the rest of the script. It’s understood that Hobie isn’t as funny as Peter, but it’s extremely forced when even the low level henchmen are caught making dumb small talk about the game.
Fortunately, even those moments look good thanks to the art by R.B. Silva, inker Adriano Di Benedetto, and colorist Marte Gracia. Silva’s style reminds us a lot of Olivier Coipel, and he’s really got an eye-pleasing style that handles everything that Slott throws at him in the script. Silva’s facial expressions are distinctive, and the story flows very well throughout his pages. His drawings of the Rhino and the Lizard will prove particularly memorable. Something about the smart Lizard performing scientific experiments is just innately humorous.
We’re definitely intrigued by this opening chapter and we’re also pretty invested in the guest-hero just on the strength of this issue alone. It’s a very solid issue.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Marvel Comics