Current Reviews


Amazing Spider-Man #544

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2007
By: Ariel Carmona Jr.

Writer: Michael J. Straczynski
Artist: Joe Quesada

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The first installment of Michael J. Straczynski’s final story arc on Amazing Spider-man was mostly a disappointment. But before I get into a review proper, I would just like to point out how insulting it is for Marvel’s marketing department to raise the price by $1 while all the while claiming the change never occurred.

They must think that long time readers are idiots who are either too stupid to look at the previous issues in their collection or not smart enough to figure out that their claim that the comic is “still only $3.99” is a nonsensical lie given the fact all the previous recent issues were priced at $2.99.

If you want to charge me an extra dollar for comics Marvel, don’t insult my intelligence by trying to make me think that’s the price I’ve been paying all along.

Readers are not treated to any extra pages for the price they pay, but are instead given a six page prose recap of Spidey’s long history adorned by artwork by the likes of Gil Kane, Lee Weeks and John Romita Jr. There’s also a few pages of sketches and a recap of all the various costumes used by Spidey over the years. I could have done without all these “extras” if it meant additional pages of story and artwork.

The story within the covers is mostly pedestrian which is disheartening considering how much hoopla has been associated with this new arc. A lot of what’s gone on before happens again with Peter desperately figuring out what he must do to try and save Aunt May.

Although it is interesting to see Peter’s confrontation with Tony Stark, since the former blames the latter for Aunt May’s current condition, this is the only new development in the entire issue.

A greater sin is committed by the writer when he fails to include the detective incapacitated by Peter last issue and by not advancing the plot of the severe consequences to Peter’s law breaking actions. I realize this is only the first issue in this new arc, but by completely ignoring these subplots, Straczynski does not play off the sense of urgency which made the previous’ issue’s cliffhanger so effective.

I can’t make heads or tails of the cover either. While it is a nice homage to some of the covers from previous Spider-Man eras and an arresting visual treat, it doesn’t make much sense within the context of the story. Is Spidey being tangled by problems he’s created himself as represented by the webs? I think that’s what the artist was going for.

All and all, an average read in a title which has been blistering hot prior to this issue. It will be a major disappointment to fans who expected the supernatural aspects suggested by the story arc’s name would begin to materialize with this opening chapter. The appearance of Dr. Strange in the second installment of the series in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24 suggests these developments are still in the near future.

If there’s one redeeming aspect to this comic, I would say it is that Joe Quesada’s artwork isn’t bad. Though I had grown accustomed to the regular artist’s style on this tile, Quesada does a good job of rendering the Spider-Man cast and is adroit at rendering action sequences, even if his Peter Parker doesn’t resemble Peter in many of the book’s panels. The final two page spread featuring a Spider-Man webslinging in his red and blue costume doesn’t make that much sense given the fact no reason was given to ditch the black suit. But then again, his reason to wear the black and white costume was also flimsy at best.

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