Telling J. Jonah Jameson “OK Boomer” In Amazing Spider-Man #38

by James Ferguson

The rather unlikely alliance of Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson gets even more complicated as ol’ JJJ starts his new career as a podcast host. Meanwhile, the wall-crawler is working with his sister Teresa to…you know, at this point, I’m not really sure what he’s doing, but it’s going to run head long into Jonah’s new job.

When Amazing Spider-Man is on, it’s an unstoppable title. Lately it’s been weaving into this spy thriller territory which feels out of this book’s wheelhouse and the story suffers for it. Peter Parker is not the Winter Soldier or Black Widow. He’s used to facing guys with octopus arms or dudes that turn into sand, not preventing war between European nations. The whole thing just feels out of place.
The saving grace of Amazing Spider-Man #38 is with J. Jonah Jameson. His years of railing against Spider-Man are finally catching up with him. Norah Roberts, the former Daily Bugle who brought JJJ into this new venture, tracing a direct line from the his sensationalized headlines of yesterday to the click bait of today. Jonah is clearly out of his element with all these young people with their scooters and dessert coffee for breakfast. I’m honestly surprised no one said “OK Boomer” to him.

This makes for some great comedic moments, not to mention a poignant moment of self-reflection for Jonah when Spider-Man (his new BFF) comes into the company’s crosshairs. This place is taking his old playbook from the Daily Bugle to a new level, complete with how they pay their freelancers next to nothing. Writer Nick Spencer weaves in a great perspective here, showing how the previous generation impacts the current one. There are some definite parallels to real world issues.
Artist Iban Coello captures the look of shock and disgust on JJJ’s face perfectly. He’s scared and confused by this company and it’s tactics, but he’s probably even more scared by how they can be traced back to his actions. Coello twists the character’s face up into these bizarre and hilarious expressions. The facial work in this issue is top notch, providing a deeper look as to what’s going through each character’s mind at any given moment.

The best visual elements of Amazing Spider-Man usually deal with the web-head swinging through the city and Coello certainly delivers on that front. These pages feature a varied and dynamic layout that adds some extra excitement to a scene. Although the lenses in Spidey’s mask don’t change all that much, they are still used to convey emotion in a brilliant fashion.
Colorist Brian Reber creates some nice contrast between the bright daylight of the wall-crawler’s adventure outside and the shadowy underground casino making bets on super heroes down below. This ties into the whole thriller concept that didn’t work for him, but does create an interesting obstacle for Spider-Man. Although Peter’s actions are questionable in this issue, we know his intentions are good partially based on how the pages are colored.

Rounding out the creative team is letterer Joe Caramagna, the consummate professional guiding us through all the action. There’s a great sequence with a non-traditional layout where his word balloons are placed just so as to move your eye through the right order. If you trace a line from balloon to balloon you’d see a clear path to follow.
This new arc feels like another detour on the road to bigger and scarier things for Amazing Spider-Man. Remember Hybrid? He was the big bad introduced forever ago that’s been lurking in the shadows forever. While there’s been a steady unsettling build for the character, storylines like this cool that off as Spider-Man gets in over his head in other areas.
Amazing Spider-Man #38 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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