Amazing Spider-Man #535 is yet another Civil War tie-in. I’m about as excited to read this issue as I am to go visit the dentist. For the most part, these Civil War tie-in issues have been just total and complete filler. They don’t create or develop a single plotline. I have serious reservations about this issue. I don’t expect that I’m going to particularly enjoy Amazing Spider-Man #535. Let’s just go ahead and do 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: This issue starts with Peter unable to sleep. He is watching the news where it is being reported how Stark Industries and Fantastic Four Incorporated have received no-bid contracts totally two billion dollars for development of confinement facilities and ancillary research and development. This is making Tony Stark one of the richest men in the country.
Peter then walks into Tony’s office at the Avengers Tower. Tony looks tired and worn out. Peter mentions how Tony has been making a killing with the stock market and the no-bid contracts. Tony responds that he hadn’t noticed. Peter then demands to see the detainment facility that Tony and Reed Richards have constructed.
We cut to Reed’s lab. Peter is stunned that the detainment facility is in the Negative Zone. They enter the Negative Zone and Peter is stunned at the massive facility and high tech equipment. We then tour the facility and see some of the “occupants” in the various cells. One please that there has been a misunderstanding. That he should be here. That he didn’t do anything wrong.
Peter then asks Tony if this facility is an interim solution. Tony tells Peter that this isn’t temporary. That it is permanent. And to “Get with the program.” (Is this a Tony Stark android? It sure as hell isn’t the Tony Stark I grew up reading.) Tony continues to say that unless the occupants agree to register then they have to stay here for the rest of their natural lives. (Oh for god’s sake. This is just getting ridiculous.)
Peter demands that Tony take off his helmet and say that to his face. Tony takes off his helmet and tells Peter that he hates doing this, but they have no choice. It is the law. Peter responds that the law means people get a trial before you send them away to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. That they can’t just lock people away. Tony responds that they can lock people away and they have done so and that is the end of it.
Tony continues that the Registration Act is an Act of Congress which is outside the jurisdiction of local and Federal Courts. That only the Supreme Court can’t intervene and they won’t. That the facility is not on America soil so American laws don’t apply. That the occupants are legal nonentities. Tony then threatens Peter by saying that staying here for the rest of one’s life would be terrible. Peter gives Tony an angry look.
We cut back to Iron Man and Peter arriving back to Reed’s lab. Iron Man goes to the bathroom while Reed and Peter talk. Peter asks Reed why he would create such a facility. Reed tells Peter about his Uncle that he loved as a kid. His Uncle was a writer and a free spirit while the rest of the family were scientists. This was during the McCarthy Era and his uncle was brought before the Un-American Activities Committee to be questioned about if he was a Communist or if he knew any. His uncle refuse to testify. He was held in contempt and imprisoned for six months. His career was ruined. Nobody would hire him. He lost all his money, home and his life. Reed says that his uncle picked a fight he couldn’t win. The point isn’t if it is wrong or right. The point is that it is the law. That without laws were are nothing more than savages. That if the law is wrong then it will be changes in an orderly and lawful way.
We cut to Peter waking up Mary Jane and Aunt May. He tells them that he has been on the wrong side. That he has made a terrible mistake. Suddenly, peter hears several “booms” and the room shakes. Peter tells Mary Jane and Aunt May to run. Peter suits up into his Iron Spider suit. Iron Man then comes smashing through the wall and grabs Spider-Man. End of issue.
The Good: Ok, we all know about the Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. I have absolutely no idea how I am going to satisfy that rule with this issue. Let’s see, something positive…something positive…dammit, there must be something positive to say about this issue.
Well, JMS gives a token effort to try and show the pro-registration’s view with Reed’s little speech about his uncle. Laws are necessary evils and they do keep us from being total savages. And yes, if a law is wrong then the proper way to change it is form within the government and the judicial system rather than causing absolute chaos and injuring innocent people and damaging property in the process. It was a pathetic attempt to show the pro-registration side in anything that would be confused with an equal light. But, as pathetic as it was, at least JMS made the weak attempt to do so. That is more than most writers have done with these Civil War tie-in issues.
Ok, that’s it. I’m spent. I have nothing else positive to say about Amazing Spider-Man #535.
The Bad: I have numerous problems with this issue, but let me address my main problem first. Tony Stark. Or at least the character that has is masquerading as Tony Stark. After reading this issue, I am absolutely stunned at the incredible lengths that Marvel has gone to completely and totally assassinate Tony’s character. No. Assassinate is too mild of a word. How about obliterate? Marvel has taken a long time central character in the Marvel Universe and has absolutely obliterated his character.
Marvel, in its bizarre obsession to deliver a massive political diatribe concerning post 9/11 America and the Bush administration, is jamming a square peg in a round hole with the handling of Tony Stark. Marvel could care less if Tony Stark’s actions and character in Civil War is consistent with over 40 years of history in the Marvel Universe. Marvel is clearly only concerned with their own agenda and not with delivering a quality story consistent with the character’s personalities.
Marvel needed a big name hero to lead the pro-registration side and a big name hero to lead the anti-registration side. Iron Man and Captain America were chose respectively to lead the two sides. This was done purely for shock value. Two long time friends and original Avengers. Marvel didn’t care if Iron Man’s role was consistent with his character or not. They had an agenda to carry out and Iron Man’s 43 years of history wasn’t going to stop them from portraying him completely contrary to how he has ever acted.
The Tony Stark that I read in this issue is absolutely nothing even remotely similar to the Tony Stark that I have been reading about since I was 6 years old. Tony has always been a true hero. A man with a brilliant mind who has the heart of a champion. Tony has always been willing to risk his life in order to defeat evil and to protect the general public. Tony is a man who has battled alcoholism, beaten it and emerged an even stronger man. Tony has used his mind to create incredible inventions and has dedicated his life to serving the public and trying to be an inspiration to other heroes. Tony Stark is one of the original Avengers. To me, Iron Man has always been one of the quintessential “good guys.”
What Tony Stark is not is the goose stepping Stalinist that he is portrayed as in Amazing Spider-Man #535. The Tony Stark in this issue was not even remotely close to the Tony Stark that I have known my entire life.
Marvel’s lie that they would present both the anti and pro-registration sides in an equal light has been totally obliterated with this issue. Before now, I honestly didn’t see the big deal to the Registration Act and found it a terrible analogy to the Patriot Act. Now, Marvel, in an effort to insure that all the readers view the pro-registration side as evil villains, reveals that anyone who violates the Registration Act will be imprisoned in the Negative Zone facility FOR LIFE! Yeah, that’s right. No trial. No appeals. No limited jail sentence. Just prison FOR LIFE, no questions asked. All because the Negative Zone isn’t American soil and this is an Act of Congress that only the Supreme Court can address.
This is so idiotic that I can’t even believe that Marvel went in this direction. This is so insanely over the top and heavy handed that the only reason Marvel could possibly want to go in this direction would be to guarantee that everyone reading Civil War clearly knows that the pro-registration side are heartless Stalinist villains.
This move completely obliterates Marvel’s lie that both the anti and pro-registration would be cast in equal light and readers would be left to make the tough decision on which side to support. Hey Marvel! This isn’t a tough decision!! Anyone other than Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Franco and Mao is going to side with the anti-registration side. Honestly, what reader is going to side with the pro-registration side? Why in the hell would they? Marvel has gone to considerable lengths in this issue to make sure we are morally outraged and disgusted by the pro-registration’s plans.
Again, my problem is that Civil War could have been a wonderfully complex story that challenged the moral compass of the reader by placing them in an uncomfortable position of having to choose between two sides that both seemed valid. Instead, Marvel decides to use Civil War as a bully pull pit and would rather push a certain political view rather than delivers a deliciously entertaining story that made the reader conduct some serious soul searching.
Marvel failed. Civil War could have been an incredible mini-series. Now it is nothing more than just another story bashing the Bush administration. Yay. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like Bush. I have huge problems with the Patriot Act. And, I’d probably always lean slightly to supporting the anti-registration side. My problem is that there are tons of TV shows, movies and books that conduct tons of Bush bashing. We are flooded with it everyday. I don’t really need Marvel to jump on the bandwagon. I would rather they deliver a great story and make it actually difficult for me to choose a side to support in this Civil War.
Garney’s art just doesn’t suit my tastes. I find it to be sloppy and too sketchy. It creates a very unimpressive look to the comic.
Overall: I want my Iron Man back. Have you ever read an Iron Man comic from the 1970’s or 1980’s? Tony Stark was James Bond with a suit of armor. He traveled to all over the globe and slept with more smoking hot honeys than you could imagine. In 2006, Tony Stark is just Dick Cheney with a suit of armor. Lame.
I want Civil War tie-in issues to be over. Amazing Spider-Man used to be an enjoyable read back before Civil War began. It has stunk ever since Civil War started. This Civil War mini-series cannot end soon enough for me so we can get on with interesting Spider-Man stories instead of political rants.