Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #323

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Assassin Nation Plot"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Absolutely Amazing

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

Silver Sable has hired Spider-Man to protect Symkaria's King Stefan from an attempt on his life by a shadowy organization. Prime minister Limka - who was directly involved in the assassination plot - was doubled crossed and subsequently killed by an unidentified assassin.

Stefan, while not directly harmed, did not completely emerge unscathed from the attack on his castle. His fiancee Vivian was killed by a member of Ultimatum, the terrorist organization who attacked the castle.

After their enemy is defeated, they discover evidence that indicates involvement from the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

In Detail...

"Assault Rivals!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #323
Nov 1989 : SMURF 323.500 : SM Title
Arc: Part 4 of "The Assassin Nation Plot"
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Todd McFarlane
Inker:  Todd McFarlane
Cover Art:  Todd McFarlane
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Assassin-Nation Plot (TPB)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Nathan Lubensky, Silver Sable, Solo

Counter-terrorism operative Solo prevents a group of Ultimatum soldiers from destroying the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Leaving only one alive, he "convinces" the terrorist to disclose the location of Major Toler Weil (introduced last issue, working with Limka). The mercenary reveals that he's somewhere on the Latverian - Symkarian border.

In the country of Symkaria, American ambassador Henry Hawthorne arrives to offer condolences for Vivian's loss and to assure the royal family that the United States had nothing to do with this assassination attempt. The news of their alleged involvement has been disseminated by the press and subsequently sent the population into a decidedly anti-American frenzy.

The Ambassador and his assistant are escorted into the castle where they meet with Silver and begin to discuss their next course of action to prevent war between their two countries. When their discussion becomes very heated, Spider-Man attempts to calm them down and remind them they should stay focused on finding the real assassin which would prove the U.S. was not involved. Hawthorne resents Spider-Man's presence and tells him that his dubious reputation makes this international crisis even worse.

Frustrated and unable to leave the grounds to call his family, Spider-Man holds an impromptu interview for the waiting television crews. He makes a brief comment on his involvement with the investigation. This statement has a subtle hidden message to MJ, telling her that "everything's just fine". In Queens we find MJ watching the broadcast and catching her husband's reference, passes along a fake message from Peter to May.

Before he can finish his interview, the press turns their attention to the bigger story: the arrival of Captain America. He parachutes down from a passing plane and lands safely on the ground. He assures the media that he's been sent here to "set things right" and meets with Silver Sable to discuss their next move.

With information provided by the C.I.A, Cap and Silver plan to capture Weil at his stronghold on the Latverian - Symkarian border. Cap informs Spider-man of their plans so that they can prove that the U.S. was not behind the assassination attempt. "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" Spider-Man responds sarcastically.

Silver informs Spider-Man that he has fulfilled his contract and is free to leave anytime he wants. Despite his poor treatment and his desire to go home, he decides to accompany Silver and Cap on their mission to capture Weil. When Cap asks why Spider-Man wanted to see this through, he sheepishly responds that ".. America is my country too".

Despite their best efforts and the added firepower of Solo (on his own agenda) Weil manages to escape. They scour Ultimatum's computer records and learn that Sabretooth was the assassin contracted to kill Limka.

While Silver, Cap, and Spider-Man are deciding their next course of action, a member of the Wild Pack informs her that Ambassador Hawthorne has been forced to leave due to death threats. At the present rate, war appears imminent.

In General...

Drama. Drama. Drama. Regroup. As you can guess, this issue is not as intense as it predecessors, but is still a well written one.

The arrival of Captain America lightens the mood a bit and progresses the story a bit faster. In less than one page, he's managed to convince everyone that the United States was not involved and that they should capture Toler Weil to prove America's innocence. Spider-Man made the same suggestion and had his allegiance questioned. Amazing what clout Cap has isn't it? Of course, he is Captain America; by definition he's going to be more readily accepted than Spider-Man.

There were a few minor complaints:

  • Explaining the enemies' motivation to the reader is always a good thing. Having a character (Solo) explain them during a firefight is awkward. Solo's rant to the Ultimatum squad in Paris informing them that "they think national symbols create barriers and by destroying them you'll bring unity" is not the best way to bring the reader up to speed. Sometimes it pays to use your indoor voice. This is probably more irritating due to my low opinion of Solo. I think he's a redundant character; he's basically a Punisher clone with a teleporter.
  • Cap parachuting in to a waiting press corp is a bit over the top. He doesn't do stunts to draw attention to himself.

Perhaps it was just the most expedient method to bring a sense of order to the situation. I'm sure that Cap would be aware that people trust him to do what's right and was probably using that to help calm the international community.

I would have preferred a thought balloon for Cap with "I normally detest doing this but..." to give the reader a subtle clue that this is a bit out of character for him. The press conference itself doesn't bother me, as it was a necessary tactic.

The fact that Spidey gets upstaged by Captain America at his own press conference provides some unexpected comic relief.

Overall Rating...

4 webs. As you can probably tell, I am really enjoying this arc.