New Ways to Die was the first huge event of the Brand New Day saga, back in 2008. The six-issue Spider-Man story arc written by Dan Slott with art by John Romita, Jr. first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #568-#573. Not only did it feature the first big altercation between then-head of HAMMER Norman Osborn, but it also featured Spider-Man facing off with the Mac Gurgan Venom, the Thunderbolts, and the origin of a new villain, Anti-Venom.
I recently decided to pick up New Ways to Die in trade paperback format and give it a go to see what I thought of it.
I remember all of the hype surrounding the release of New Ways to Die. The introduction of a new Venom character used to be commonplace, but now it was a bit less frequent. Not only that, it was the return of John Romita, Jr. to the title (he hadn’t been on since the JMS run I think), in a story written by fan-favorite writer Dan Slott (who most fans name as their favorite BND-era writer).
As we start Brand New Day, Spidey’s been framed for a series of serial killings (I’m curious as to how that eventually played out, as it’s not resolved in this book), and the Thunderbolts, led by Norman Osborn, come to New York City to hunt him down. While this is happening, ex-Venom Eddie Brock miraculously becomes cured of cancer (unbeknownst to him, by the magic touch of villain Mister Negative). The Mac Gurgan Venom attacks the F.E.A.S.T. shelter, where Aunt May works and Eddie Brock volunteers. Brock is attacked by Venom, and reacts to the Venom symbiote transforming him into Anti-Venom who begins to attack both Venom and Spider-Man to remove all traces of the Venom symbiote from both.
I tried reading New Ways to Die when it was originally released, but for some reason didn’t finish it. I don’t know why, because the story really is quite enjoyable. Unlike Grim Hunt, where the focus is mainly on Spidey and the villains, we do focus quite a bit on the supporting cast in this book, primarily Harry Osborn. While I have to admit that jumping in and out of BND left me a little confused as to who the new supporting cast members were (like Peter’s roommate), I was able to follow along well enough, and the most interesting events that do happen occurred with characters I was familiar with. The story of New Ways to Die is strong – we get plenty of great action with Spidey fighting Venom, the Thunderbolts (including some great fighting with Bullseye), Norman Osborn (in Green Goblin gear), and of course the new Anti-Venom.
I like that Eddie Brock is now Anti-Venom, but I wonder what the post-BND status quo will mean for the symbiote, especially since I hear Gurgan will go back to being Scorpion (we get a pretty cool Scorpion/Venom mashup in the book). Really, New Ways to Die has a ton of cool moments, and they’re helped by John Romita, Jr. in spades. Though we’ve given him a hard time with his Avengers art as of late, his Amazing Spider-Man stuff was typically pretty great, and the entire art team (Klaus Janson on inks, and the colorists) all did a uniformly stellar job. Characters look like they should (except for one awkward female who looks like she had bad plastic surgery…but maybe that’s the point), and the fights are all choreographed well.
New Ways to Die may not be the easiest way to get into the Brand New Day saga (if you haven’t), but it’s certainly a good Spider-Man story, and well worth your time picking up.