Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Man #517

Posted: Friday, March 4, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell

"Skin Deep, Part Three"

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Mike Deodato (p), Joe Pimentel (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: As the mentally unstable Charlie demands that Peter help him, Peter is able to stall for time, and he uses this time to tell Mary Jane that he wants her to get herself and Aunt May to safety. Peter's efforts to take down Charlie as Spider-Man only manage to further enrage Charlie, who decides to make good on his threats as the issue ends with Charlie arriving at the home of Aunt May.

Comments: What had started out as a pretty interesting character study transforms into a pretty run-of-the-mill affair, as Charlie becomes little better than a crazed villain who is using his newly acquired powers to lash out at the world. I enjoyed the idea that Charlie was essentially a mirror reflection of Peter Parker, but that he lacked the moral compass that Uncle Ben and Aunt May provided. However, this issue is far more interested in playing up the idea that Charlie has gone past the point of redemption, that the issue becomes little better than yet another story of a villain on a rampage, and the only real difference that sets this one apart from the crowd is that the villain's anger is directed against Peter Parker, and not his costumed identity. Now I'm not quite sure what we're supposed to draw from the cliffhanger, as J. Michael Straczynski offered up a scene earlier that made it pretty clear that Mary Jane would have already gotten Aunt May out of harm's way, but it is worth noting that it's highly likely that J. Michael Straczynski is going to use this attempt by a villain to strike at him through the people he cares for as the primary reason why Mary Jane and Aunt May are going to be moving into the more secure confines of the new Avengers headquarters. Speaking as a long time reader of comics though, I've noticed that super-hero headquarters do tend to act as super-villain magnets, and get blown to kingdom come with an alarming frequency. In any event, getting back to the issue at hand, this chapter effectively plays up the threat level that Charlie poses, as he delivers a pretty horrific attack upon a childhood tormentor. The battle with Spider-Man in the final pages effectively sells the idea that he won't be as easy to take out as initially thought.

I'm delighted that Bruce Campbell has been pulled into the comic book medium, as the Evil Dead films should be embraced by the comic book community. Of course, Sam Raimi's involvement with the Spider-Man films has served to introduce a new legion of fans to the slapstick abilities of Mr. Campbell. So why am I going on about Bruce Campbell in this section of the review? It's because this issue features the first appearance of the snooty usher into the Marvel Universe, and I have to say Mike Deodato Jr. does a pretty nice job of capturing Bruce Campbell's likeness. The art also nicely captures the sense of danger that Charlie poses during the scene where he kills his childhood tormentor, though the art could've done a better job later in the issue showing readers the blood that Spider-Man notices. The art also delivers a cute little visual gag as the van door scene made me smile.

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