Quick Hitter: Comic Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man #534: Civil War

Amazing Spider-Man #534 is another Civil War tie-in. That can’t mean anything good for me since outside of X-Factor, I have been highly unimpressed with the Civil War tie-in issues. It is about 100 degrees here at the Bunker, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to do this review in my boxer shorts.

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

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue starts with Spider-Man and the rest of Iron Man’s team guarding the prison transport vehicles with the super heroes that they captured during Civil War #3. While escorting the transport, Iron Man references Spider-Man’s spider sense. Peter thinks to himself that he has never told Tony about his spider sense. Peter then decides that he needs to inspect his new Iron Spider outfit to see just how much information is being collected on him and given to Tony.

Suddenly, the prison transport is ambushed by Captain America’s team. Spider-Man finds himself squaring off with none other than Captain America. Captain America offers Spider-Man one chance to join him before he kicks his Spider-butt. Reluctantly, Spider-Man refuses and with that we have a braaaaaaaaawwwwl! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I haven’t done a good “brawl” in quite a few reviews.) Amazingly enough, despite Spider-Man’s newly increased powers and his hi-tech suit, Captain America can hang with him. Suddenly, there is a large explosion and Captain America runs off to check on his teammates who are under attack. (Yeah, right, Mr. red, white and blue. Nice excuse for turning yellow and running. Spidey would have taken his flag wearing butt out.)

During the fight, Spider-Man had webbed Cap’s shield to the side of a building. Cap had run off so quickly that he left the shield behind. Some punks try and steal the shield. Spider-Man chases them off. Spider-Man then takes the shield and webs it up high on the building where only Captain America can get it. Spider-Man wants Captain America to know that he left it for him. Spidey also wants Cap to get the message that the shield represents the country and the laws of the country decide who’s right. Even the laws we don’t like. Even the ones that suck. Spidery continues that Cap is thinking in terms of right and wrong. Moral versus immoral. However, the real issue is legal versus illegal. Spider-Man then hopes to God that he is right. End of issue.

Amazing Spider-Man #534 was an average issue. This issue clearly laid the foundation for Spider-Man flipping to the anti-registration side. It is obvious that Peter is only helping Tony because he THINKS it is the right idea, not because he FEELS or BELIEVES it is the right idea. The big death in Civil War will probably be MJ or Aunt May and that will provide the necessary motivation for Spider-Man to ditch the Iron Spider outfit and jump over to the anti-registration side. Plus, Marvel doesn’t want Spider-Man associated with the villains by the end of this story.

The bit about Spider-Man’s spider sense surprised me. Mainly, because I thought his spider sense was common knowledge among the super hero community. I guess I’m wrong, or Marvel conveniently forgot it. Plus, it is no surprise that Tony would have the Iron Spider suit download all of Peter’s powers and their limits. Tony is a scientist and he probably innocently believes that in order to make the most efficient and powerful suit for Peter that he would need to know all of his powers and limitations.

However, this scene is just another nail in coffin for Tony Stark’s character. Marvel seems hell bent on destroying Tony’s character. They will go to any degree to show Tony being manipulative, two-faced, controlling, uncaring, egotistical, dickheaded, Machiavellian and basically one step away from being Dr. Doom. As a big Iron Man fan, I’m shocked and disappointed in Marvel’s willingness to destroy a longtime hero like Tony Stark.

The fight between Spider-Man and Captain America should have consisted of Spider-Man pounding Cap into the ground. Spider-Man with his newly increased powers and his Iron Spider suit should have destroyed Cap who was fighting without his shield.

The final scene with Spider-Man webbing up Captain America’s shield so he could get it later was definitely the most exposure that the pro-registration side has gotten that wasn’t totally negative. Of course, Spider-Man’s argument at the end was qualified with the fact that he hopes he is right. You notice that is never said with Captain America and the anti-registration side. They KNOW they are right. That is a subtle but huge difference. The main point for that final scene is that Marvel doesn’t want to vilify Spider-Man unlike Iron Man who they are quite happy to commit character assassination with him and make him look completely evil and unlikable.

Overall: I worry about the direction that Marvel is taking Spider-Man. I’m afraid that they will never be able to get the genie back in the bottle with regard to his identity being revealed to the public. I’ll refrain from any final judgments until after Civil War has ended and the dust has settled a bit.