Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #538

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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...

During Civil War, Peter Parker unmasked before the nation, and joined Tony Stark's group of heroes fighting for Registration, against the Captain America-led resistance. However, as Peter realized the implications of what Tony was doing, and infringing upon others' freedoms in the name of security, he switched sides, to do what is right, and join Captain America and fight at his side during the final climactic battle of the war.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #538
Feb 2007 : SMURF 538.500 : SM Title
Summary: Civil War, Aunt May shot
Arc: Part 7 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 #11
Articles: Venom III

Mary Jane and Aunt May wait for Peter to get home, when Peter finally calls in. Peter prepares for the worst, and lets MJ know, as he prepares to join the final battle of the Civil War. As MJ speaks with Peter, she is none the wiser that she's in the crosshairs of a sniper.

Peter fights in the Civil War, as Captain America fights against all odds. New York looks on, military circles, and the inmates of area prisons look on with interest. Wilson Fisk listens intently, and keeps in constant contact with the sniper who currently has MJ in his sights. He keeps the sniper in position, awaiting the kill order.

As the smoke clears, and the battle is over, Jameson runs his headline, the damage is surveyed, and the heroes regroup and pick up those who fell and were injured in the climactic battle. MJ spends the evening hoping beyond hope that Peter will return safely, as the White House prepares a response to the end of the battle and the events that ended it, and Bill Foster (Goliath)'s family pay their respects. The Sniper, waiting in position, finally drifts off to sleep.

Finally, Peter returns to the hotel room that MJ and May are staying in, tripping a sensor which alerts the Sniper that Peter has returned. He gets Peter in his sights, activating Peter's spider-sense, as Peter dives out of the way of the bullet, and pushes MJ down. However, the bullet may have missed him, but instead has found a different target, striking Aunt May in the side...

In General...

For a seven issue arc, this arc was very poorly constructed. Is it interesting to read? Sure, but then it doesn't really have a coherent storytelling method in place, as it really just serves to highlight Peter's participation in the Civil War mini-series. Read on its own, there's gaps and jumps that Straczynski doesn't even attempt to patch up. This last issue isn't bad, but its also a far cry from being good. Why? Because there's really nothing of real substance here. Its a vague clipshow of the battle from Civil War #7, and not much else. There's a nice splash page, but its not an adequate or even accurate depiction of the battle, reducing its meaning. The story here is just lacking the punch and resolution that you would hope to get from a 7 part-storyline. And ultimately, all it really ends up doing is setting up yet ANOTHER storyline. Personally, I prefer much more resolution from such a large number of issues invested in a storyline. If a story is advertised as being seven parts, I'd like that honored, and what we got here was a shell of a storyline, as most of the issue could have been gleaned from Civil War #7. The momentous shooting of Aunt May doesn't come across as chilling, exciting and surprising, but rather humdrum and kind of silly.

Peter just didn't act like Peter in the final sequence, as he would have used web to try and block the incoming threat of danger, or at least been cognizant of Aunt May's presence. There have been occasions where Peter has made an error of judgement that resulted in the loss of life, such as in the Sin Eater storyline by Peter David, but in that csae Peter was highly aggravated and not quite paying attention as he should be (a good case for registration and accountability right there). Here, however, he was aware of his actions, and although exhausted from the battle, one would think he would be more sensitive to his spider sense than he was illustrated as being here. Plus, wouldn't his spider sense have been triggered the minute he entered, or even before entering, the hotel room? Flaws of logic like this make it hard to really enjoy or appreciate the so-called "shock ending" here.

The use of Fisk, although interesting, doesn't quite add up, however, as we've never seen Fisk be so blatantly violent and determined towards killing Peter. Especially as there would be no immediate benefit for him to do so. Fisk is a manipulator who does things for a reason, and yet there's no true rhyme or reason for his actions here. Especially considering the timeframe of the issue and his reasons for being in jail in the first place, and namely the person responsible for putting him there.

The art by Garney is actually pretty decent, but then he doesn't have too much to actually illustrate. He kind of got gipped here, as he's constrained by Civil War so that his panels aren't as detailed with regards to the characters fighting, or as expressive as they could have been. Its a real shame, as we're not able to see much because it would give away the surprise of Civil War.

Problem is, now that Civil War is all over, and this issue is later read on its own, it just won't be satisfying to the reader. Its good to have a solid and interesting tie-in, however, not at the expense of the story being told in the tie-in. There was so much potential in this storyline, but by the end of the arc, that potential was diminished totally, and the importance of this issue was relegated to the panel on the last page which wasn't surprising, thrilling, or worth it.

Overall Rating...

Its an average issue at the best, which is how I'm rating it in this case. The storyline was pretty great up until this point, with some excellent pacing and characterization, and managing to be a tie-in that told its own story as well as dovetailing into the main Civil War storyline. But this issue kind of crashed and burned in that regard, although it manages to have some pretty pictures, and some nice prose, even though it doesn't deliver anything that new.