The five issue story arc that concluded with the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man was an abysmal read. Honestly, it could have been easily done in about two issues. And the worst part is that it was nothing more than a lead in to this “One More Day” story arc. Seriously, this is a hell of a lot of build up just to kill off Aunt May. Considering Joey Q’s bizarre obsession with ending Peter and MJ’s marriage, I was really expecting MJ to be the character killed off. Anyway, maybe Amazing Spider-Man #544 will manage to get more than 3 Night Girls. Let’s do this review.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Joe Quesada
Inker: Danny Miki
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin, let’s be honest here, with the same damn scene we have for the past four issues: Peter and MJ at May’s hospital bedside. We get more of Peter’s never ending self-pity and guilt for all the bonehead choices he has made since Civil War that lead to Aunt May getting shot.
The doctor enters the room and informs Peter that if his Aunt doesn’t have any medical insurance then she will have to be moved to the charity ward. Peter snaps and says he won’t have his aunt moved to the charity ward. Peter then leaves the room vowing to get the money necessary for May’s medical care. The doctor chases after Peter and tells him that Spider-Man saved his uncle’s life a few years ago. That the doctor knows who Peter is and vows to do his best to keep May’s true identity secret from the hospital. However, the doctor won’t be able to stall forever without insurance or money for May’s care.
We cut to Peter websliging his way to Stark Tower. Peter breaks into the building. Tony is alerted to a break in and armors up and blasts into Peter and carries him out of the building and through the air. Peter then webs up Iron Man’s jet boots. Iron Man then realizes that the intruder is Peter. Iron Man routes all his power to his repulsor gloves and uses the repulsor blast to slow their descent to the ground.
They land on the ground and Iron Man yells at Peter for pulling a stupid stunt that could have killed the both of them. Iron Man then kicks into dick mode because this is a JMS penned comic book. Iron Man tells Peter he is under arrest. And is evidently willing to use lethal force to do so. (Yeah, okay. That is so Tony. *sigh*.) Peter punches Iron Man. Iron Man cranks up his uni-beam to blind Peter. Peter then cranks out more webbing than he ever has before and notices that he has completely webbed up Iron Man.
Iron Man tells Peter that this isn’t going to work. That Peter can’t continue to run and hide. Peter tells Iron Man to shut up and rips off Iron Man’s helmet. Peter tells Tony to listen to him. Peter says that Aunt May is dying and it is Tony’s fault. (Huh, what? Am I high? Did I miss something?) Peter then blames Tony for getting Peter to reveal his secret identity. Tony tells Peter that he is sorry to hear that May got shot. Peter tells Tony to save his apologies and to give him money for Aunt May’s medical care.
Tony responds that he cannot. That it would compromise Tony’s mission. That any direct help Tony would give Peter could be tracked back to Tony and he would be held liable for aiding and abetting a known criminal. Tony says that the stakes are bigger than either he or Peter or even Aunt May.
Tony breaks free from the webbing and tells Peter that he will let Peter walk away this time out of respect for May. But, for Peter to no come back because next time Tony is taking him in. (Aaah, no one can write Iron Dick Cheney quite as superbly as JMS. He is so talented he can make Tony practically unrecognizable from his characters 44 year long history.)
Iron Man leaves and Peter cries like a bitch. Again. For like the one millionth time in the past six issues. We see Tony arrive back at Stark Tower. Tony grabs a nice cold one. A bottle of water, people. Tony hasn’t fallen off the wagon again.
Tony stares at a picture of him and Peter with the rest of the Avengers. Jarvis then approaches Tony and asks if he needs anything. Tony looks at Jarvis and says he does need one thing.
We hop back to the hospital where Peter asks MJ how May is doing. MJ says nothing has changed. Peter says that one way or another he is going to get the money. That he is already a wanted criminal so he will steal the money if he has to.
Jarvis then appears on the scene. Jarvis says he understands that his cousin May is in need of medical care. Jarvis sees May in her hospital bed and begins to break down. Jarvis composes himself and then tells the doctor that his personal account has just seen a deposit of over two million dollars and that he has a check with him that should cover the cost of May’s treatment. The doctor readily accepts the check and has the nurse take Jarvis to accounting.
The doctor congratulated Peter for pulling off the impossible. The doctor then tells Peter that he has to accept the fact that May is dying and that there is nothing they can do other than make her comfortable in her final few days. Peter refuses to accept what the doctor says. Peter grabs MJ and says that they are going to find somebody who can save May.
We cut to Peter telling MJ that he loves her. Peter gets into his Spider-Man costume (the red and blue one!) and webslings off into the city. Peter vows that he won’t stop or rest until he has kicked in every door, take every chance and paid any price. That he will find a way to save May even if it means storming the Gates of Hell itself. (Or just a simple act of calling in a favor from Loki.) That nothing is going to stop Peter from saving May. End of issue.
The Good: Wow, what a shock, another issue of Amazing Spider-Man where absolutely nothing happens. I have no idea how I satisfy the Rule of Positivity with this issue. Hold on, let me take a huge bong hit and maybe that will spark an idea. Ok, I think I have it. I did like how Joey Q drew Iron Man’s armor. He looked pretty sweet.
And I also like how Jarvis’ reaction to seeing Aunt May in a coma was handled. I feel bad for the old guy since he really did love May and they were a cute couple. I also like that JMS managed to not have Tony come out like a complete and total asshole like he usually writes Tony. Having Jarvis act as the front for Tony to funnel money to Peter was a nice touch.
And, of course, it was fantastic seeing Spider-Man back in his red and blue costume.
However, what really made Amazing Spider-Man #544 enjoyable were all the extras at the end. We get an incredibly detailed six page small font typed history of Spider-Man. We also get a one page break down of all of Spider-Man’s powers including a diagram of his webbing abilities. We also get a two page splash shot of all the different costumes that Spider-Man has sported over the years.
The extras in this issue absolutely crush the actual story of this issue and I’d recommend purchasing Amazing Spider-Man #544 just for the extras alone and simply tearing out the pages prior to the extras and use them for toilet paper in case you run out of that wonderfully soft Charmin.
The Bad: Honestly, I wonder if JMS is actually trying to pile drive this title into the ground. Amazing Spider-Man #544 crept along at a horribly slow pace. It is shocking how insanely slow this title has moved over the course of the past six issues. And the plotting is just as pathetic. Seriously, nothing has happened on this title for at least half a year. You could easily take the past six issues and reduce them to just two maybe three issues max and they would actually be solid reads.
I feel like I’m trapped in a mobius strip and I simply keep reading the same issue over and over when it comes to Amazing Spider-Man. Have any of you ever seen the movie “Groundhog Day?” I feel like Billy Murray right now when it comes to Amazing Spider-Man.
We continue to get absolutely nothing new with Amazing Spider-Man #544. We get the exact same beginning as we have over the past five issues, with Peter and MJ at May’s bedside. We get to enjoy the same tired and re-hashed inner monologue about how guilty Peter feels just like we have the previous five issues. We get plenty more of Peter wallowing in self-pity like the previous five issues. We get tons more of Peter refusing to give up on Aunt May like we have gotten in the previous five issues. We get the same boring ending with Peter vowing to save Aunt May.
We also get served up plenty more of the usual cheesy, overly dramatic and ham handed dialogue. I mean this stuff makes some of the telenovela’s that my mother-in-law watches seem like Shakespeare. And not only was it poorly written, the monologues and all the dialogue was painfully predictable. I could recite all of Peter’s dialogue before he actually said it. Everything connected with this title has become so rote and banal.
I’m not really buying that Peter could go toe-to-toe with Iron Man especially considering how the Extremis virus has seriously boosted Iron Man’s abilities. But, this is Spider-Man’s title so it is to be expected that JMS would job Iron Man out in this issue. And speaking of Iron Man, JMS still writes a crappy Iron Man that is completely and totally inconstant with the 44 year history of his character and personality. But, again, it is to be expected so I wasn’t surprised in the least bit.
Seriously, JMS has reduced Amazing Spider-Man into nothing more than a pathetic joke. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a title fall into complete stasis like this title has.
Remember when it used to be fun to read Amazing Spider-Man? Remember when Peter was actually an interesting character rather than this pathetic winey sap that JMS has given us recently? I miss how this title used to be. I loved the wise-cracking Spider-Man. How Peter Parker was one of us and had the same daily problems that we have. Yet, Peter never refused to let any of the daily troubles keep him down and kept that upbeat and positive attitude always looking for the brighter side of life.
Instead, Amazing Spider-Man has grown increasingly dull, drab and depressing. JMS has drained all the color and enjoyment out of Peter’s world. Amazing Spider-Man is not a title that I purchase in order to read about a dark anti-hero. This is not a title that I look for grim, gritty and dark stories. There are plenty of other titles on the market that offer that type of story and do it in a much better fashion.
JMS has put himself in a corner with the past six issues. If Aunt May dies, then I would care less since we have been waiting now for six issues for the inevitable to happen. I would merely be irritated that it took so long for the old broad to die. If Aunt May lives then I’d feel like these six issues were just much to do about nothing and a waste of time.
Plus, Peter has had enough pain and trauma in his life. I don’t really need to see Peter lose his one of the few good things he still has left on this planet. And don’t even get me started on Joey Q’s bizarre obsession with ending the marriage between Peter and MJ. I have no interest in reading about Peter the widower or Peter the divorced schmuck.
The artwork was unexpectedly average. Normally I dig Joey Q’s artwork. I think it is the fact that I just don’t like Danny Miki’s inks. I have never been impressed with Miki’s work and he seems to have the ability to get me to dislike the artwork of pencilers that I normally enjoy.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #544 was another abysmal read. JMS continues to go absolutely no where with this title. I am stunned at how bad this title has been over the past six issues. Talk about a complete lack of direction and purpose. This title has basically been slammed into neutral for half a year.
At this point, JMS has drained any interest or excitement I might have had over the death of Aunt May. Just kill off the old lady already so we might actually be able to move forward to getting fun and interesting Spider-Man stories once again.