Avenging Spider-Man #11: Beauty In Words Only

A wonderful story about the relationship between Peter Parker and his Aunt May is torpedoed by its dreadful artwork.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Avenging Spider-Man #11

I’m so pissed. I’m so frickin’ angry I could spit. If I figured I could get away it with it, I’d start slapping Marvel editors right and left. What has raised my ire? What evil force has driven me to such depths of hatred? Avenging Spider-Man #11, that’s what has brought all this to pass. Is the story awful? Is the dialog bad? Does the idea suck? What could be the reason for such an outpouring of complete bitterness?

First, let me tell you what it isn’t. This is not at all about writer Zeb Wells story, because that story is wonderful. There’s no action, no super villain, no malevolent evil that requires Spider-Man’s due attention. Instead, Wells gives us a gorgeously crafted tale that pays tribute to Ben Parker, the man who gave Peter the strong platform by which he would grow to become one of the greatest heroes in the history of the comic book medium. Avenging Spider-Man #11 focuses on the current relationship between Aunt May and Peter Parker by having them revisit the past. The two meet at Ben’s grave and, through some of the best dialog I’ve read this year, take an unsentimental look at Ben Parker and themselves.

I absolutely adore what Zeb Wells does here. He doesn’t milk the issue, nor does he turn it into an issue that seems forced on us because of Spider-Man’s big 50th anniversary. Instead, Wells allows May and Peter to meet as two adults, something we haven’t seen much of in past Spider-Man books. May was always the ultimate damsel in distress or the doting aunt or the one thing that could be sure to raise Peter’s anger levels if threatened.

Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has gone through great pains to mature their relationship and Zeb Wells continues that. We learn about Ben and even learn about May and Peter and how the night Ben Parker died would shape their relationship. It’s absolutely beautiful work. That brings us to the bitch slap from Marvel, the thing that crashes and burns this beautiful book.

The Art.

Who in the holy fuck decided to give such a rich and emotional book to hack artist Steve Dillon? Yeah, yeah Preacher fans, you heard me. Steve Dillon is a one trick pony that can draw maybe four different types of people. I hated his work in Preacher, I hated it in Punisher Max and I really hate it in Avenging Spider-Man #11. The proof of my disdain is in the proverbial pudding. Why does Peter Parker look like Preacher? Why does Aunt May look like the old bald villain from Preacher with a wig on. Why does everybody look the same? Why are the backgrounds all so boring? In short, why let Steve Dillon touch anything other than a coloring book?

To make matters worse, there is a glorious cover from artists Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez. The cover is a perfect nod to the old school look of Peter and May. It’s like Norman Rockwell painting for comics. A single, sweet moment that will flood Spider-Man lovers with so many memories. Then to crack open the book and see Dillon’s one-note collage of mediocrity is heartbreaking. Some people have Rob Liefeld to hate, I have Steve Dillon.

Avenging Spider-Man #11 is one of the best-written issues of 2012, and it was handed over to an artist that is completely substandard. So heartbreaking.


(5 Story, 1 Art)