Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Mike Deodato Jr. (p), Joe Pimentel & Tom Palmer (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This is a big improvement. It’s still an Avengers plot, but at least we’re getting Spidey’s perspective on events now. As the Hydra plans escalate, I’m sure that’ll change, but this issue at least reads like a Spidey story rather than an Avengers story with Spidey in it. The MJ-goes-to-Broadway subplot finally gets some sort of payoff, and it works very well, mainly due to Straczynski’s effortless grasp of the characters; even when the plots have been naffer than a one-star hotel in Swindon, JMS at least does excellent character work.
That said, there are some dodgy bits of plotting on show here; Spidey not listening to his spider-sense and thus not discovering Hydra’s lair, even while he’s standing right in front of it, comes across as artificial and clumsy. Spider-Man has ignored his spider-sense before, but it’s still a bit clunky. Couple this with the least effective cliffhanger ending I think I’ve ever seen in a comic, and JMS threatens to undo all his good work in this issue. I know I’ve been critical of Deodato’s work on this title in the past, but this issue is scrappy even for him. The art looks quite rushed in places, with some wonky anatomy, stiff and unconvincing posing here and there, and some occasional continuity glitches. There’s also another of Deodato’s less-than-successful photo referenced characters as John Travolta turns up as a member of Hydra; all this does is take the reader out of the comic, ruining the reading experience for the sake of a neat celebrity cameo. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the cover either; I think that’s supposed to be the moon, but at first I thought this issue might contain a crossover with The Prisoner…
Despite my many criticisms, this isn’t a bad issue. JMS handles the characters very well and this just about makes up for the flaws elsewhere; I’d just be happier if the flaws were ironed out instead of compensated for.
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