"Book Three of Five"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Gabriele Dell'Otto
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As Spider-Man finds himself being haunted by memories of a battle that he can't remember, we see him pay a visit to Daredevil who was present in the memory flashes that are plaguing Peter, but Matt claims to have no memory of the battle. However, when Matt is called to the hospital by Jessica Jones, we see Peter is troubled by the information is starting to come together, and a meeting with Nick Fury at the hospital brings up the idea of a Secret War.
My favourite issue of the miniseries largely because Spider-Man is at the centre of this issue, and his reactions to the cloak and dagger elements of this story bring a nicely grounded feel to the material. I mean how can one not love his embarrassed attempts to explain to Matt why he's made his late night visit, and the final line of the issue is a perfect Spider-Man moment. Brian Michael Bendis also does some nice work when it comes to Spider-Man banter as he helps Daredevil battle a pair of second string baddies, as I had to smile when Spider-Man notes that he's probably guilty of using a joke that he's already used before, and how can one not love the "yike-a-hooty" explanation of surprise. Now most of this issue is set in the present day, so we don't really learn anything new about the "secret war" beyond the fact that Spider-Man and Daredevil's memories of their participation had been erased, while Captain America seems to remember his role quite well. However I do enjoy the basic premise that was set up in the previous issues, as the mystery of how the second string villains of the Marvel Universe are able to afford their state-of-the-art technology is a solid springboard for a story, and I rather like the idea that Nick Fury would assemble a team of costumed vigilantes for a Mission Impossible style mission. I'm also curious about why these costumed villains have decided to attack in the present day, beyond the simple fact that it's been one year since the secret war.
The art of Gabriele Dell'Otto is absolutely lovely and this issue affords him the opportunity to deliver two amazing double page spreads that open and close the issue. The opening shot of our heroes embroiled in a battle against an army of armored attackers, is only topped by the final page shot of the army of armored villains. Now the odd thing about his art is that the scenes that are set at night work far better that the daytime scenes, as the scene between Peter and MJ, looked a bit soft, while the rest of the issue had a sharp clarity to it that is quite rare to find when it comes to painted art. In any event there's several great shots in this issue from the first shot of Daredevil in the present day, to the visual impact of the panel where the parking lot explodes. The art is also quite impressive when it comes to conveying the emotional states of the cast, from Captain America's anger, to Peter's expression as he attempts to explain his dream images to a sceptical Matt.
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