Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #20

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Back in Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2 #10, J. Jonah Jameson had an opportunity to unmask Spider-man and find out who he truly is. And since that time Jonah has been acting strange about matters involving Spider-man and we have (that's us the readers) supposed to have been wondering whether he really did look beneath the mask.

In Detail...

"SetUp"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #20
Aug 2000 : SMURF 461.500 : SM Title
Summary: Alistair Smythe, Spider Slayers & Reprints of ASM #25, 58, 192
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Erik Larsen
Inker:  John Beatty
Cover Art:  Erik Larsen
Staff Only
Issue
Review
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Glory Grant, Jameson, J. Jonah, John Jameson (Man-Wolf), Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Smythe, Alistaire

This is the month that the 100 page monster hit Spider-Man. If you don't know the deal, basically for $3 (of American currency, those of us in Australia pay $5) you a recent story and three classic stories reprinted. Anyway you look at it, this means bargain.

Well, as for the details here we go...

The reason for Jonah's weird behaviour recently is revealed right away. Basically Jonah has been blackmailed by Alistaire Smythe in his scheme to get revenge on Spider-Man, which has been in the planning for awhile, but is now coming into fruition. The plan is to lure Spidey to the bugle with his missing suit and then spring a trap which ends in his demise. Spidey knows it's a trap, but goes anyway to be confronted by Smythe and all the models of Spider Slayers ever built, plus a couple of new models. There is an across town battle which ends with Spidey being finally taken down and thus we are left with a cliffhanger!

A couple of sub-plots are continued aswell. We catch up with Senator Ward who's making friends with Senator Kelly (of X-Men fame or it infamy?). We also touch on Peter's friends who try to arrange some time to cheer him up, but his Spidey duties mean he can't.

The back three reprints in this book are classic Spider Slayer tales. They chronicle Spidey's first two meetings with Spider Slayers (Amazing Spider-man Vol.1 #25 & #58) and the demise of Spencer Smythe (Amazing Spider-man Vol.1 #192), the original creator of the Spider Slayers.

In General...

I'm glad that they reprinted the stories they did in the back of this most recent issue of Amazing. These stories are excellent, if you haven't read them before then you would be doing yourself a diservice not to grab a copy of this comic for these stories alone. These stories have it all, everything a Spidey comic should have. They are excellent, classic, superb, outstanding, dramactic, emotional, nail-biting... and I could go on with these superlatives.

Unfortunately for the current Spidey creative team though, printing these stories in the back of this current issue of Amazing was probably a mistake, because they show up how bad it is. The comparisons between the current story and older ones show up so many faults in the currnet one. Bad dialogue, bad plot devices (i.e. skipping out on half the battle between Spidey and the Slayers), bad characterisation, a bad villain, a silly resolution to a longer plot thread, Spidey overcoming opponents (the Spider Slayers) with ease... and as I could go on with superlatives for the older stories, so too could I go on lamenting the faults in the current one.

But, to be fair, I suppose the current story isn't all bad. It was good to see this Jonah thing resolved, eventhough the explaination didn't really make sense or seem plausable. It was good to touch on the Senator Ward suplot. It was good to see Spider Slayers, though I think their classic legacy may a bit marred by this story. There also some (but not much) nice interaction between Peter and some of the supporting cast. And at least I was suprised at the reason behind Jonah's strangeness.

Just one last comment about the current issue. It's about the art. I kinda liked Larsen's work on the last issue of Spidey, but here it wasn't as good. And it really bothered me when he drew Jill Stacy the way he did. It was just wrong! She looked and acted (via body language) totally differently than she ever has before. This really annoyed me and lowered my opinion of Larsen a notch or two.

Overall Rating...

Well, how to rate this? I really have to give it two:

For Amazing #20 - 1 Web. It was good they're wrapping up the Jonah plot, but for reasons above, it just doesn't work.

For Amazing Vol.1 #25, 58 & 192 - 5 Webs. these stories are excellent and more than worth the money for this comic.