Norman Osborn has an unknown hostage, and he knows that this person can lead him to the secret to bringing down Spider-Man. Earlier the same day, Peter Parker's night with Mary Jane Watson doesn't go as well as he hoped. He follows that up with catching a pickpocket and going to work. Elsewhere, Liz Allen is still calling in favors from Flash Thompson on behalf of Alchemax.
Okay, this one actually wasn't bad. The pseudo-framing device of Norman interrogating the unknown hostage is well-constructed and even tense at times. The Spider-Man parts aren't all that interesting, and it doesn't really go anywhere. The Mary Jane subplot develops somewhat, but that's it.
Once more, J. Jonah Jameson has some of the best lines in the book. He needs a more central part of Amazing Spider-Man.
The most notable improvement is fewer one-liners. Norman has some questionable lines, but the sequence of Spider-Man catching the pickpocket has some solidly funny dialogue.
I called the Norman-and-hostage sequences a "framing," and common narrative practice would imply it as such. However, the rest of the comic has no direct connection to the Norman and hostage scenes. Plus, the other scenes have interior monologues form Peter Parker, so it can't be told by either character in the Norman scenes. This is actually pretty baffling from a story construction standpoint, and the comic is lucky that it's entertaining enough that this didn't sink it completely.
Also, there is a terrible Uncle Ben joke that almost sinks one scene.
The ending stinger of Norman Osborn learning something important about Spider-Man is questionably constructed. Once more, the book can't decide whether it wants to go for drama or humor and hedges its bets on both. As a result, it accomplishes neither.
Oh, and no first appearance of Red Goblin yet, but we have something better. We have Flash Thompson! No first appearance, but Agent Anti-Venom is the bomb.
Stuart Immonen joins up as the artist for this issue, and it's a good addition. Immonen is a good artist who has his own unique realistic style. Some panels could use more detailing, and the sleekness can look a little odd at times. Osborn and Spider-Man himself look great, though. Wade von Grawbadger's inking is excellent. Marte Gracia's colorwork is great and plays off itself pretty well too. A striking scene is the shadow-filled and delapidated room in which Norman is holding his victim, and a single orange pumpkin stands out in the darkness.
So, yes, Amazing Spider-Man #797 is a decent read. It's not good, but it's not bad either. It's decent. It's structure is flawed and has other relatively minor problems. Pulling back a little on the cringe-worthy one-liners, having a lot of Norman Osborn, and some fun with purse-snatchers made for a solid issue in this series. Plus, Immonen, von Grawbadger, and Gracia put in some excellent work. It's not a must-buy, but I can still recommend this one. Feel free to pick it up.
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