Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #31

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Last issue a stranger named Ezekiel, told Spidey his powers may not have been an accident, while a new menace arrived on the scene.

In Detail...

"Coming Home"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #31
Jul 2001 : SMURF 472.500 : SM Title
Summary: (#472) Peter Returns to Teaching
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  Scott Campbell
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Must Haves #13
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #2
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 Collected Edition
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #1
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Dex, Ezekiel, Morlun

This issue we find Pete breakfasting with Aunt May and distracted with thoughts about Ezekiel. May brings his thoughts around to school teaching and leaves Pete to think about it. We cross to Ezekiel who is at the head of a board meeting. He seems to be a pretty rich, high-flying guy and the other members of the board seem to be in on what he's up to in regards to Spidey. Meanwhile, Spidey's heading to his old High School to apply for a job, but before he reaches there, the new mysterious bad guy, spots him and uses his power to torment Spidey's spider-sense in some way. Spidey, freaked out because he doesn't know whta's happening, continues to the school anyway.

At the school, Pete's waiting to get the application paperwork, when his spider-sense warns him of danger and he turns to see an approaching gunman. The gun man opens fire in at the school and Pete saves the students by clearing them into a classroom. Pete gets the dorky kid (who he saved from bullies last issue) to create a smoke diversion, then dons his Spider togs and takes out the gunman. The gun man turns out to be a student, who has snapped over other students treatment. As the smoke clears, one of the current science staff leaves, saying he can't handle the place and is never going to return. The school coach talks to the school coach, whose really pessimistic about the whole school and introduces himself as the new science teacher.

In General...

On the whole this is a good comic, but it doesn't really stray too far from that. It's well written and drawn, but in the end the plot is pretty mundane and it feels like a bit of a let down compared to the last issue.

On the good side of things, compared to Mackie, JMS is the best writer in the biz. His story flows smoothly, he recaps unobtrusively for new readers and his dialogue is believable. He has an undestanding of Peter Parker and most of the main characters are made distinct. Romita's art is great, though not mind blowing as it sometimes can be. Dave Kemp and Avavlon studios, on colours, have been doing great things for improving the art in this and recent issues. The best thing by far though is the comfirmed revelation that Pete is going to start science teaching, if done well this could provide for a lot of great stories and character development for Pete.

There are two areas where the story falls down for me though. Firstly, the plot. I'm still waiting to see if JMS main plot thread, Ezekiel's revelation (which I'm again reminded this issue is supposed to rock my Spidey lovin' world) is going to pay off and not come off horribly, which I fear. But, instead this and other threads from last issue continue slowly. While a lot of story is devoted to the teen gunman at the high school. This wouldn't have been a problem, except it feels more like JMS is meeting some "obligatory action quaota" instead of giving us something that should be hard hitting and meaningful. I would have much preferred to see the other storylines progress further than this. The only benefit to the sequence that I see is that Pete got to bond a bit with that Joey kid.

The other let down is Aunt May's characterisation. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Aunt May is actually playing a role and being used, instead of being pushed aside. So, far since she returned from the dead,everytime she's appeared I've just thought it was a mistake to return her. But, her characterisation this issue just seems way off, compared to any other takes I've read of her. He dialogue is whimsical and superfluous. She seems a lot calmer, wise and stronger than she ever has before. Which is fine, sure there have been more dramatic and illogical character shifts before. And I won't mind in the long run, as long as this take is consistent and even hopefully explained.

Really there's not really that much to complain about. Spidey is in the best shape he's been in years. I guess I'm just comparing to some of the other genuinely mind-blowing reads at the moment, including Marvel's Ultimate line, the Avengers, etc. And in comparison to these books, this issue just didn't have that extra edge.

Overall Rating...

A solid four webs. All it needs is that little bit extra...