Comic Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man #540

JMS continues to leave The Revolution thoroughly unimpressed. It has been a long time since Amazing Spider-Man was actually a quality read. This new direction that Spider-Man has taken just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m sure that Amazing Spider-Man #540 will be another dull and unappealing read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inker: Bill Rienhold

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Spider-Man calling MJ to get an update from MJ about Aunt May’s condition. MJ tells Peter than Aunt May is in a coma and that the doctors say that they should prepare for the worst.

Peter hangs up the phone and goes to question the four black market gun dealers who sell extremely high-end snipe scopes like the one the sniper used to shoot Aunt May. Spider-Man makes his way through the first three with no results. However, the fourth dealer that Spider-Man visits has the information Spider-Man desires.

Spider-Man throws the dealer out a window of a skyscraper and then webs him by his foot and threatens to let go until he gets the names of all the buyers for Gunter-Wess sniper scopes. The first two names belong to rich hunters. The third name is the one that Spider-Man was looking for: Jake Martino. Martino is a hitman who takes jobs nobody else wants.

Spider-Man swings off to investigate who hired Martino. Spider-Man manages to web up a couple of police officers and then use their police computer in their squad car to search for information on Martino. Spider-Man finds an address for Martino’s last known location.

Spider-Man arrives at the last known residence for Martino, but Martino has already cleaned out the place and is gone. The landlord enters the apartment and tells Spider-Man that Martino left about twenty minutes ago. That Martino said he was headed to the train station. As Spider-Man swings off, the landlord yells out that two other men were just here looking for Martino.

Spider-Man figures that whoever hired Martino is trying to slam the door and make sure that Spider-Man can’t find out who ordered the hit. Spider-Man thinks how he has the problem of not knowing what Martino looks like so he will be hard to spot in the train station. Therefore, Spider-Man drops into the middle of the train station and figures his presence will cause Martino to react and that will be enough to trigger Spider-Man’s spider sense.

Spider-Man’s plan works as he closes his eyes and his spider-sense works like a radar and picks Martino out of the crowd. Martino runs and Spider-Man chases. Spider-Man breaks Martino’s arm. Spider-Man yells that it is not so easy when Martino isn’t using a sniper rifle to shoot someone. Spider-Man proceeds to brutally beat up Martino.

Spider-Man begins crying and tells Martino that he is going to kill Martino after Martino tells him who hired Martino. Suddenly, somebody fires a bunch of bullets and guns down Martino. Spider-Man throws a spider-tracer onto the leg of the gunman as the gunman runs away.

Martino isn’t dead and an ambulance comes to get him. Spider-Man hitches a ride on the top of the ambulance. Spider-Man asks himself if he was really ready to kill Martino. The answer is yes. Spider-Man thinks how he would have been ashamed of that answer. But, not on this day.

The ambulance pulls into the same hospital where May is located. Peter then goes and meets up with MJ. MJ tells Peter than Aunt May is not going to make it. That it is only a matter of time.

We cut to the surgeons working on Martino. They are unable to save him from his gunshot wounds and Martino dies.

We cut back to Peter telling MJ that May is a fighter and that they can’t stop fighting and that they will save May somehow. Peter’s spider-sense suddenly picks up the proximity of the spider-tracer.

We cut to the gunman on his cell phone telling his boss that he took care of Martino. Peter suddenly appears and webs up the man’s mouth. Peter then grabs the cell phone and listens to the voice on the other end of the line. Peter recognizes the voice and says “Hello Mr. Fisk.”

Kingpin says “Hello, Mr. Parker. And what may I do for you?” Peter responds “Just one thing, Mr. Fisk. You can die.” End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #540 was a pretty boring read. However, The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity mandates that I find something that I enjoyed about this issue. Let’s see, I thought that Garney served up some fantastic close up shots of Spider-Man. Spidey looks flat out wicked in several of those shots.

I also enjoyed how JMS used Spider-Man’s new and improved Spider-Sense to track down the bad guy. Very cool. And JMS also supplied the reader with plenty of action. If nothing else, we got to see Spider-Man kicking plenty of ass.

The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #540 was chock full of some rather cheesy and way too over the top dialogue. Talk about overdramatic and hackneyed. This issue had it all. Some of the dialogue was practically groan inducing.

My problem with this story arc comes down to the fact that I just don’t get the point or purpose of this story. No matter which outcome we get, I’m going to be extraordinarily unimpressed. Aunt May has been put at risk before, so this is hardly uncharted territory for the reader. If Aunt May dies, then I think Marvel will have made a mistake of robbing Spider-Man of his most critical and important supporting character. If Aunt May lives then all of this melodrama was just a waste of time.

Also, this story is just a bit too dark. Peter Parker has already had enough personal traumas with being an orphan, then losing Uncle Ben and then losing Gwen Stacy. At some point the continual deaths to those close to Peter is just piling on and no longer does anything at all to grow or evolve Peter’s character.

I’m also not digging on Spider-Man being a Punisher style angry and violent hero who is bent on killing the man responsible for shooting Aunt May. We already have plenty of this type of gritty violent hero in the 616 Universe with Punisher, Wolverine, Moon Knight and others. Spider-Man has always been a nice change of pace from the standard tough guy heroes that dominate the comic book world. I love that Spider-Man doesn’t kill, isn’t overly violent and always tries to do the right thing and keep a positive attitude despite all the negativity that surrounds him.

The pacing for this issue was slow. The story seems to be stuck in neutral as Amazing Spider-Man #540 pretty much leaves the reader in the same position as we were with the last issue: Spider-Man still on an angry mission of vengeance. We get Peter vowing to kill whoever is behind the hit on Aunt May and Peter worrying over Aunt May in a coma. That is pretty much what we got in Amazing Spider-Man #539.

The ending to Amazing Spider-Man #540 had little impact since the reader already knew that the Kingpin was behind the hit on Aunt May. Not much of a surprise to shock the reader. And since we had already gotten plenty of angry Spider-Man all issue long, it was no shock to hear him threatening to kill Kingpin.

Overall: I really don’t have much more to say about Amazing Spider-Man #540 without completely re-hashing my review of Amazing Spider-Man #539. Amazing Spider-Man #540 just missed the mark with me. I continue to find this story arc completely un-engaging.

2 Comments

  1. Agreed. This new Spidey stuff is pretty lame. Uh. Not much else to say.

  2. While it’s true that a darker spidey isn’t as much fun, I did enjoy how different artists render spidey’s beautiful black outfit.
    I think once the novelty of Spiderman wearing the coustume for the first time since the 80s wears out though, he will revert to his old costume so that’s kind of a let down. I wish he would alternate between the two or then why bring it back at all? Certainly not to tie into spiderman 3 because that movie’s costume looks nothing like the costume in the comics. I do think that a dark suited spidey with a sense of humor and ligth heartedness can be written well by Peter David on Friendly Neighborhood

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