Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #537

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This story is part of an Arc: "The War at Home"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Peter Parker, Spider-Man, put forth his support in the Superhuman Registration Act by standing by his friend Tony Stark. To further this, he unmasked in front of America, and stood by the Pro-Registration Forces that enforced the Superhuman Registration Act. However, when Goliath was killed by a Pro-Reg Clone of Thor, and seeing the Negative Zone prison that detainees were sent to, Peter decided to defect from the side he was supporting. On live television, he denounced the Registration Act, as Iron Man vowed to bring him in.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #537
Jan 2007 : SMURF 537.500 : SM Title
Summary: Civil War
Arc: Part 6 of "The War at Home"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  Ron Garney
Inker:  Bill Reinhold
Cover Art:  Ron Garney
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 Reprinted In: Civil War Chronicles #9

Peter Parker wakes up in his motel room, grabs a New York Mets hat and heads out to the nearest newspaper box, and grabs a copy of the Daily Bugle with the main story focusing on Parker Challenging Registration. A local prostitute, Honey, sees Parker, and makes a call to a friend as she figures she can cash in on the situation.

Meanwhile, Captain America has a talk with Human Torch, and asks Johnny to go out looking for Peter, before Stark's forces are able to locate him and take him down. As Peter eats some toast in his motel room, he looks up and sees a flaming spider in the sky, with the message "Call Me" beneath it.

In prison, former Kingpin Wilson Fisk has a meeting with a lawyer, regarding Spider-Man. The lawyer cleverly asks Fisk if he still wants the person to get their overdue "bonus", and on a piece of paper indicates that the order is for Spider-Man + 2. Fisk gives the order that even if Spider-Man isn't there, that the "package" is to be delivered to whoever is home.

Meanwhile, Captain America and Falcon walk along an alley, as Falcon tries to convince Captain America not to go out looking for Parker, in case its a trap. Cap decides its a risk he's willing to take, and goes looking for Parker. Finally, the two heroes come face to face, and Peter asks Cap how he's able to deal with being scene in the media as a Benedict Arnold, a traitor. Over the next few pages, Steve quotes Mark Twain and his own personal experiences, to explain to Peter what you do in such a bad situation. Peter sides with Captain America, and decides to follow him and once again he feels like he's one of the good guys, doing what's right.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man in a trenchcoat is driven to the Motel where Peter is currently shacked up. As MJ worries about where Peter is, the man shows up and plants a device on the motel door. He walks across the street, to a spot that overlooks the front of the motel, and takes out a sniper rifle.

Back with the Secret Avengers, Spider-Man, Vision, Falcon, Cage, Punisher and others follow Captain America, as he tells the heroes about the three elements that go into planning a battle. As Steve worries he hasn't handled all the angles, Peter assures him that given his his tactical abilities, he's sure he hasn't left anything out of the equation.

As Peter says this, the sniper has both MJ and May in his crosshairs and prepares to take the shot...

In General...

After last issue, which built up a ton of momentum and had Peter finally following his heart and doing the right thing, this issue felt like a bit of a letdown, losing that momentum without doing enough with it. The issue suddenly had Kingpin in it, and putting out a hit on Peter, which just seemed very unexpected and out of left field, and the sniper being a new character seemed a bit of a throwaway opportunity as well. I did like that Captain America and Spider-Man had a heart to heart, but then it turned into a three-four page Mark Twain quote which seemed too much for this particular issue. The intent was a good idea, but it seemed to be too verbose when executed. The ending certainly did ratchet up the momentum, at least where May and MJ are concerned, although the ending with Peter and the Secret Avengers didn't have a ton of momentum behind it, it just kind of ended, to be continued in Civil War #6/7.

The art by Garney was actually extremely strong in this issue, there were some great visuals of Captain America waiting for Spider-Man, a solitary figure on the roof, and of the Human Torch as well. Artistically speaking, this was probably the highlight of Garney's limited run thus far. It proved very atmospheric and perfect for matching the tone and mood of Straczynski's script.

Overall Rating...

In a weird twist, this time it was the art which kept the rating high and the writing which made it low, averaging out at a pretty good 4 webs. I'm curious as to what the last issue of this storyline is going to be like, what with the main conclusion to Civil War taking place in that title, and not necessarily in this book, which will most likely focus on the events of the sniper's bullet and whoever it may hit. I'm really dubious as to whether this is a good idea for the sniper to hit either, and if it does kill one of the two characters, or fatally wound then and ultimately kill them... it could either work well or cause a major fan backlash. This is dangerous ground that Marvel's potentially treading on. Killing off MJ would bring about a very negative fan reaction, whereas killing off May would irritate fans who already buried the character during Amazing Spider-Man #400, back in 1994, which was an extremely well written send-off to the character (later horribly retconned).

Time will tell. In the meantime, this was a fairly good issue, with strong art by Garney, although Straczynski's script did make this feel too much like a fill-in issue, and the Kingpin subplot dropped in out of nowhere just to get Parker "Back in Black."