ASM 700.3 starts a new story arc, The Black Lodge. It opens with a fight between Spider-Man and Firebrand, in which Spider-Man is not on his A-game and ends with him receiving third-degree burns over 80% of his body. Following the fight, which destroys Spidey’s suit, leaving him unidentifiable, a black ambulance comes to take the two unconscious adversaries to an off-the-grid hospital that caters exclusively to super-villains.
The tension is expertly drawn-out as a barely ambulatory Spider-Man is surrounded by patients who would rip him apart if they knew who he was. As for the medical staff, they’re still a mystery. They apply the Hippocratic oath religiously when it comes to the bad guys but doubt is thrown on how far that will extend to Spider-Man. Everything I nit-picked in ASM 700.2 has been fixed 700.3. The stakes are higher and Peter’s classic, campy humor has returned, (Spidey cites being too full of Aunt May’s pie for fighting). Besides being a tightly-told story that makes me anxious for the next issue in way few comics actually achieve the Black Cat story at the end of the book is equally well-told and a satisfying read in its own right.
A little bit too much was revealed about The Black Lodge and its faculty too early on for my tastes. When Spider-Man wakes up, in the hospital the audience is way ahead of him as he tries to figure out what’s happened and are forced to wait for him to catch up with what we already know. Dramatic irony is about striking the right balance between what the audience and the characters know and this time the scales are tipped too much in the audience's favor.
This is a fun issue. The bumpy start of 700.1 and 700.2 are behind us. It looks like Peter just needed a couple issues to shake the cobwebs off-ahem-and get back into the swing of things. I’m sorry, no more puns. If you haven’t been reading ASM, this is great issue to jump in on.
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