The Revolution continues to be thoroughly unimpressed with this current story arc on Amazing Spider-Man. I don’t find anything in this overdramatic story arc to be even remotely interesting. I just hope that JMS mercifully ends this story arc and moves onto something else. I’m sure that Amazing Spider-Man #542 will be more of the same stuff that we have gotten over the past several issues. Let’s do this review.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inker: Bill Rienhold
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 1 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Kingpin and Spider-Man squaring off in the middle of the prison with all the escaped prisoners surrounding them and rooting for a fight. Kingpin tells Spider-Man that he is a loser. That Spider-Man was dumb to rely on Tony Stark and to reveal his secret identity. Spider-Man starts punching away on Kingpin.
Spider-Man then blabs on about how his costume stands for everything that he said he would do and things he said he would never do. That he would never cross certain lines and destroy everything the costume stands for. Spider-Man says he is not here to kill Kingpin. Spider-Man takes off his mask and the top of his costume. Peter then says that he is here to kill Kingpin.
Peter proceeds to kick the crap out of Kingpin. Peter stands over a bloodied Kingpin and tells Kingpin that he doesn’t have real power. Kingpin has no super powers. That at the end of the day, Kingpin is just a fat man with a bad attitude.
Peter continues to beat the hell out of Kingpin. Peter slaps the spit out of Kingpin a couple of times and totally humiliates Kingpin in front of all the prison inmates. Peter then yammers on how he could use his webbing to fill up Kingpin’s lungs and that he would die from a lack of oxygen.
Kingpin tells Peter to go ahead and get it over with and kill him. Peter retorts that he will kill Kingpin, but it won’t be today. Peter says he has done something worse to Kingpin that is worse than killing him. That Peter has beaten Kingpin in front of every inmate and that they will tell everyone they know who Kingpin was beaten down one-on-one. That Kingpin is prideful who needs everyone to view him as unbeatable. That this humiliating beating is worse than death for Kingpin.
Peter then tells Kingpin that the moment his Aunt May dies then Peter will come back for Kingpin and kill him. That Kingpin knows there is nothing he can do to prevent Peter from killing him. Peter then tells the inmates to tell everyone that they know that Peter’s relatives are off-limits and that Peter will kill anyone slowly and painfully if they touch any of his relatives.
Peter leaves and Kingpin crawls back to his cell. We cut to Peter and Mary Jane at Aunt May’s hospital room. Peter says all they can do now is wait for the inevitable. End of issue.
The Good: Well, I am forced to follow The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity so I have to think of something nice to say about Amazing Spider-Man #542. Let’s see, hmmmm. Well, Garney definitely draws a cool looking black suited Spider-Man.
The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #542 was just an awful read. It is stunning what a truly terrible job JMS has done with this pathetic story arc. We get more of the same overly dramatic and rather cheesy dialogue that we have been “treated” to during this entire story arc. The dialogue is so heavy handed that the reader alternately groans and chuckles out load rather than being emotionally engaged.
Once again, nothing at all happens in Amazing Spider-Man #542. This is a re-occurring theme during this story arc. Absolutely nothing happens in each and every issue. I feel like we are reading the same issue over and over again. We get more tough talk from Peter, we get some mindless action in a very anti-climactic showdown between Peter and Kingpin, and then we get the exact same ending that we have gotten over the past several issues of Peter and MJ worrying over Aunt May’s hospital bed.
The pacing of this story arc is terminally slow. We have not needed this many issues to get us to where we currently are. This story arc could have easily been shortened by two issues. This story arc is moving so slowly that my already meager interest has been totally killed off completely.
I mean, for the love of god, just kill the old woman all ready!! Quit dragging this out! I don’t care anymore! Of course, I still don’t believe that Aunt May dies. Since JMS made the mistake of using Kingpin as the main villain in this story arc, we already know over in Daredevil that Kingpin eventually gets freed and then is exiled from the U.S. and goes to Europe to visit Vanessa Fisk’s grave.
Now, all of that happens after this current story arc. And since Peter promised to kill Kingpin if Aunt May dies, then either Aunt May doesn’t die and Kingpin lives and the events over in Daredevil take place. Or, Aunt May dies and Peter fails to live up to his promise to kill Kingpin. Once again, the massive error of using Kingpin as the villain in this story arc serves to completely rob this story arc of what little drama and surprise it may have.
The showdown between Kingpin and Spider-Man played out almost exactly like I said it would. This showdown was terribly predictable, pointless and anti-climactic. Wow, Peter beats up Kingpin and then says he won’t kill him, yet. Shocker! That Peter is going to wait for Aunt May to die. Peter resorts to the predictable statement that publicly beating the Kingpin is more painful to the prideful Kingpin than death. That is so unoriginal.
JMS made a huge error by selecting Kingpin as the main villain in this story arc. There has been no drama or tension leading up to this showdown. The showdown itself was unimpressive and the “suspense” of whether Aunt May dies and then Peter goes and kills Kingpin is non-existent given what has already happened on Daredevil.
If Marvel really wants to do something new and different with Spider-Man and shake things up then killing Aunt May isn’t the path to go down. Aunt May has already “died” several times in Spider-Man’s history. This is a tired and old theme. Having Mary Jane die isn’t the path to take either since reading about Peter Parker; the widower is less than appealing. Having Mary Jane leave Peter also isn’t the proper path to take since that has also been done before and would be a recycled move.
If Marvel really wanted to shake things up on Spider-Man then they should have had Peter kill Kingpin. Now, that would a massive occurrence that would have huge ramifications across the entire 616 Universe. Peter would have killed one of the most infamous Marvel criminals forever changing the perception that criminals have of Spider-Man. Plus, the uncharacteristic act of killing the Kingpin would force super heroes to also view Spider-Man differently than before. The act of killing Kingpin would also force Peter into some serious soul searching for doing an act that he never would have dreamt of doing at any point before in his career as Spider-Man.
Now, I’m not saying that Peter being a killer is a great idea. I’m just saying that if Marvel really wants to shake thinks up with Spider-Man’s character then at least having Peter kill Kingpin would have been more fresh and interesting than the tired and boring storyline that we are getting on this story arc.
Marvel has truly bungled the handling of Spider-Man’s character over the past couple of years. JMS retcons a cheesy mystical and magical origin for Spider-Man’s powers, then Marvel has Peter reveal his secret identity and now we get this un-engaging story arc involving Aunt May’s potential death. And on the horizon, we get to look forward to Joey Q possibly junking Peter and MJ’s marriage.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #542 continues the trend of poor reads. JMS continues stun me that a writer so talented can produce such garbage. The sooner this miserable story arc is over, the better. And despite my respect for JMS’ obvious talents, it is definitely time for JMS to step aside and allow another writer a chance to try and breathe some life into this struggling title.