I haven’t been impressed with JMS’s job on Amazing Spider-Man for quite some time. And I certainly wasn’t excited about the prospect of Aunt May dying. Amazing Spider-Man #539 is going to reveal if Aunt May lives or dies. And we will also learn why Peter Parker has decided to go back to wearing his black costume. Since none of these plotlines capture my interest, I doubt I will enjoy Amazing Spider-Man #539 all that much. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inker: Bill Rienhold
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Peter holding a bleeding Aunt May in his arms. Peter snaps and starts saying “No more” over and over again. Peter runs outside of the motel room, sees the sniper, picks up a jeep and throws it through the wall of the room where the sniper is located.
Peter runs back into the motel room, grabs Aunt May and web slings his way to the hospital. Along the way, Aunt May says she is sorry to make a mess of everything. Now people will se Peter and know who he is.” (Huh? Didn’t Peter already reveal his secret identity on national TV?)
Peter drops Aunt May off in a hospital room and hides outside the window of the room. A trauma team tends to Aunt May’s injuries.
We cut to Kingpin in his jail cell being informed that one of the two gift baskets was delivered. Kingpin is pleased to hear the news.
We shift to Peter meeting Mary Jane in an alley way. Peter tells MJ that this is all his fault and that there was nothing he could do to save Aunt May. That Aunt May is stable, but it doesn’t look good for her. Peter tells Mary Jane to go to the hospital and register May into the hospital under her maiden name Fitzgerald. That way whoever tried to kill her won’t track her down and finish the job. Peter then tells Mary Jane that he is going to do what he does best when he really puts his mind to it. He is going to hurt someone. (Wolverine! When did you possess Peter Parker’s body?!)
Peter goes back to the crime scene where the sniper was located when he shot Aunt May. Peter webs up the cop guarding the crime scene. Peter then finds a piece of the scope from the sniper’s rifle that broke off when the jeep crashed through the wall.
We cut to Peter web slinging across the city thinking how he can’t go sit by Aunt May and hold her hand and tell her he loves her without making the connection between her and him known to everyone. That he has to leave it to MJ and the doctors. That Peter is going to go do all he can do, all that he knows how to do. (Teach a high school science class?)
We shift to a bunch of high end gun runners in a warehouse. Peter crashes the scene and immediately attacks the gun runners. Peter thinks that the rules are gone. No jokes. No punches pulled. As of tonight, no one gets away. No one threatens his family. No one. We see Peter beat the gun runners so bad that their blood flies through the air and coats Peter’s fist.
Peter grabs the remaining gun runner still standing and questions him about the sniper scope. The gun runner won’t tell Peter anything so Peter breaks the gun runner’s hand. Peter threatens to break every bone in the gun runner’s body if he doesn’t give Peter a name and address of the dealer who sells high end sniper scopes like this one.
We zip over to the hospital. Mary Jane at Aunt May’s bedside and is talking to the doctor. The doctor says that Aunt May has lapsed into a coma. Hath it is possible that against all odds she might somehow come out of this coma and start functioning again, but barring that, sooner or later, Aunt May is going to die. (Well, aren’t we all going to die sooner or later?)
We cut to Peter web slinging up to a gargoyle on a skyscraper. Peter thinks how he stopped wearing the black outfit because he thought it sent the wrong message. That he kept it here in a web inside under this gargoyle just in case the day would come that he’d want to send a message. (What message? That web patterns are so 2006?)
Peter thinks how the rules don’t apply anymore. The gloves are off. Peter slips into his black Spider-Man outfit. Spider-Man then says that he will find them. And when he does, he is going to kill them. End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #539 was a rather unimpressive read. I just didn’t get into it at all. However, The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity must be followed. So, what did I dig about this issue? Well, black outfit isn’t as cool as the original web patterned red and blue outfit, but the black outfit is certainly much better looking than the Iron Spider costume. It was kind of neat to see Spider-Man back in his old black outfit. It has been a long time. It is a cool sleek look and is a refreshing change of pace. I dig the costume change as long as it doesn’t last for more than a year.
I must admit, it was kind of thrilling to see Peter Parker totally lose control. Peter has always used restraint when using his powers. So much so that you forget just how strong Spider-Man really is. Because of Peter’s restraint, Spider-Man usually comes off weaker than he really is. The scene with Peter throwing the Jeep through the wall of the sniper’s room definitely reminded the reader just how powerful Spider-Man truly is. If Spider-Man had more of Wolverine’s attitude he could really cause some serious carnage.
It was also neat to see Peter fighting as himself and not as Spider-Man. I can’t remember the last time Peter went web-slinging around the city out of his costume and then fought criminals out of his costume. It was a pretty cool change of pace.
And we get a good taste of that carnage. JMS definitely supplied the reader with plenty of unbridled action as we see Peter in the grips of a blood lust that we have never seen before. It was rather jarring to see Peter behaving in such a violent and angry fashion. And like a gruesome car wreck, this presentation of Peter certainly isn’t anything I particularly like, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. JMS captured my attention from start to finish with this issue.
The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #539 just didn’t work for me. The Aunt May plotline is just lame. JMS really painted himself into a corner with this plotline where no matter if she lived or died, I wasn’t going to be impressed.
If JMS killed off Aunt May then I’d be less than pleased. Aunt May is a critical supporting character that is invaluable. Peter has lost enough in his life and has no family left other than Aunt May. Taking his final remaining family member away from him would be too much. It would be too cruel. It would make Peter too much of a bitter character. Plus, Aunt May is the wise character who provides Peter a source of homespun advice and common sense. Aunt May is an absolute necessity for Spider-Man.
And if JMS didn’t kill off Aunt May, then this plotline became just another cheap gimmick to get the readers to think that Aunt May was going to get killed off, again. There are more interesting and original plotlines for JMS to pursue then threatening to kill off Aunt May once again.
So what does JMS do? He placed Aunt May into a coma. Lord, I hadn’t even thought about this horrid possibility. Putting Aunt May in a coma has to be the lamest possible outcome to this plotline. Either kill the character off or don’t. Putting her in a coma lessens any impact her death would have if she does go on and pass away. An immediate death has much more impact that having Aunt May linger in a coma for several issues and then quietly pass away. Now, I’ll probably care less if Aunt May eventually passes away while in her coma. This is just a terrible move.
And what in the world was Aunt May babbling about when Peter was taking her to the hospital? Why was she apologizing that her getting shot has made a mess and now everyone will know who Peter is. What? Maybe Aunt May is totally delirious from getting shot and forgot that Peter revealed his secret identity on national TV.
I also simply can’t get into Peter Parker as Spider-Wolverine. It just doesn’t work for me. Psycho Peter isn’t really the Peter Parker that interests me. Unfortunately, JMS gives us a Peter Parker that is as un-Peter Parker as possible. And JMS really goes too far with this image of Peter and overplays his hand.
The line that Peter says to MJ that he is going to do what he does best when he really puts his mind to it. He is going to hurt someone. Okay, Wolverine. That was just terrible and totally out of character. At no point have I ever even remotely seen Peter as a violent character that is capable of consciously hurting people. Peter is not Wolverine. That just isn’t his personality. JMS really got way too ham handed with this line.
Of course, JMS wasn’t finished piling it on. JMS then has Peter say he is going to go off and do all he knows how to do which is kicking ass. That was too much. Kicking ass is not all that Peter knows how to do. Peter is an intelligent and talented individual. At no point would I ever describe fighting as the only thing that Peter knows how to do. In fact, I have always thought that Peter’s greatest assets were his mind and his heart and not his fighting abilities.
Oh wait, there is still more Spider-Wolverine dialogue in this issue. JMS can’t resist continuing to pile it on in ham handed fashion with the ending of this issue where Spider-Man vows to kill the people responsible for attacking Peter’s family. Seriously? Are we sure that isn’t Logan inside that black Spider-Man outfit. I can understand Peter being pissed and wanting to hurt the people behind this attack. But kill them? No way. This is so insanely out of character for Spider-Man that it just isn’t even remotely believable.
JMS just went way to far giving us Psycho Wolverine Peter in this issue. It just didn’t work with Peter’s character at all. It felt way too over the top and way to forced. It was so much that I started to chuckle at how Wolverine-ish Peter was acting in this issue. Sometimes less is more.
Peter “I’m a hardcore killa” Parker goes against the basic essence of Peter’s character. I have always enjoyed Spider-Man because it was a breath of fresh air from the overly violent, tough guy, bad-ass, psycho heroes that have dominated the comic book industry ever since the early 1990’s.
Peter Parker is you and me. Peter is the everyman character. He has amazing powers, but still has the same every day problems that the common man suffers from. Peter is just your average Joe who is usually struggling to make money and is a bit of a hard luck character. But, despite the tons of daily problems that life throws at him, Peter still keeps that up beat and positive outlook on life.
Peter is a source of inspiration for the common man that no matter how tough life can get, there are always positives that can be embraced. That there is plenty in life to be happy about. And sometimes a good sense of humor is the only weapon to combat the problems of everyday life. That if you can keep your sense of humor, you can keep your sanity.
Peter is a hero who fights crime at of equal parts shame and responsibility. Peter takes his power seriously and firmly believes that he owes it to the world to use his powers to make it a better place. That Peter can fight crime without sinking to the same level as the villains and criminals he combats. Peter doesn’t kill. Peter is careful not to cause any unnecessary injury to criminals. Peter is a good hero with a good heart. This is what makes Spider-Man so unique.
This separates Spider-Man from the heroes like Wolverine, Punisher, Batman, etc. Spider-Man isn’t about trying to intimidate everyone he meets. Spider-Man isn’t trying to be a tough guy. Spider-Man doesn’t believe in killing. Spider-Man isn’t one of those stereotypical angry killer style heroes. After all, Peter isn’t named the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for nothing.
Now, I understand that when a man’s family has been attacked that he will act in a fashion different than he may normally act. However, I have a hard time generating much sympathy for Peter. After all, Aunt May getting shot is Peter’s fault.
Peter is the one who moronically decided to reveal his secret identity on national TV. That wasn’t necessary. Peter could have simply revealed his secret identity to S.H.I.E.L.D. where it would have been kept private pursuant to the Registration Act. That way Aunt May would have been safe. But, no, for some totally idiotic reason, Peter decides to blab his identity on national TV.
Now, if Peter wants to place his family at risk by announcing his secret identity, then he really owed it to them to stay with the Pro-Registration side where Aunt May would have been under guard 24 hours a day at the Avengers Tower. But, no, again Peter acts recklessly and without concern for Aunt May’s safety by leaving the Pro-Registration side and joining Captain America’s team. This move placed Aunt May in direct jeopardy as she lost the safety and security of the Avengers Tower and was forced to live on the run in various sleazy motels.
I mean, seriously, Peter brought all of this on himself by acting like a total idiot. And Peter’s moronic actions are the exact cause for Aunt May getting shot. And Peter cannot be surprised by this. Peter absolutely had to know that Aunt May getting killed was a very real possibility once he revealed his secret identity to the public and once again when he left the safety of the Avengers Tower. Peter isn’t so stupid to not have seen this as an inevitable result of his foolish decisions.
Oh yeah, and just how long does Peter’s webbing last before it disintegrates. I was always under the impression that after two hours, his synthetic webbing dissolves. I know that Peter just gained the ability to create organic webbing when he got his recent power upgrade. I have no idea how long his organic webbing lasts.
However, when Peter stowed away his black costume, he was still using his synthetic web shooters. It has been years since Peter wore the black costume. So, since the synthetic webbing disintegrates in around two hours, there is no way that the webbing should still be holding the black costume under that gargoyle.
The artwork was terribly average. I’m just not a real fan of Garney’s style of art. I find it to be a bit drab and boring. However, I will give Garney credit for drawing a nice looking one page splash shot of Spider-Man on the last page of this issue.
Overall: I’m simply not digging the direction that JMS is going with this story. I have no desire to read about Spider-Wolverine. This isn’t why I look forward to reading Spider-Man every month. JMS went way to over the top with this new blood lust Spider-Man. If you dig a violent killer Spider-Man then you will most definitely love this new direction for Spider-man.