Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #40

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Aunt May has discovered that Peter is Spider-Man and responded by starting a crusade to make Spidey's public image better. Pete and MJ are mutually missing each other. And Peter has been getting involved with helping out a homeless student.

In Detail...

"Sensitive Issues"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #40
Jun 2002 : SM Title
Summary: (#481) First Shade Appearance
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  Jason Pearson
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #11
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #3
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Shade

This issue we see JMS continuing to build on a couple of the storylines he's started.

First, there's Aunt May taking her crusade to improve Spidey's public image to J. Jonah Jameson himself. She argues with Jonah about his 'flawed editorial direction'. But, of course Jonah huffs a bit and brushes her off in the end.

We've then got Peter following up on his promise to help one of his students who is homeless (Jenny). Jenny is worried about homeless youth in her area going missing and asks Pete to check it out. He does, as Spider-man, later and bumps into a some bad dude doing something nasty to a homeless kid. Spidey is apparently too late to save the kid. But, he tries to whack the guy anyway. The guy (or otherwise known as 'Shade') talks tough and has some sort of dematerialising power which keeps him on top of Spidey for a little while. With some quick thinking Spidey manages to tag Shade a couple of times before he escapes with some sorta transporting trick and an ominous phrase!

Meanwhile, Aunt May has had a little phone conversation with MJ. Apparently MJ is coming into town for a short while and wants to hook up with Pete. There's a bit of overwrought subtext to the converstaion though. Aunt May wonders if she should tell MJ that she knows Peter's secret. While MJ notes there's something different about May and wonders if she's found out.

Pete returns home and puts on some make-up to hide his bruises from Aunt May. She drops in and notices anyway, then tells Pete about MJ and asks whether he's going to meet with her. He says he will.

In General...

This is the first non-event issues of Amazing Spider-man in a while. We had September 11 issue, the Aunt May finds out Pete's secret issue and the 'nuff said issue. So, in comparison, this issue seems a little less vital I guess. It seems to mainly push along the couple of plots that JMS has introduced recently.

Easily one of the best things JMS has done in recent issues is make Aunt May interesting and given her purpose. The continuing subplot of Aunt May's crusade is great and her confrontation with Jonah was amusing. Her interaction with MJ and the subtext of "Does she know?" was a bit painful and forced if you asked me. It was sorta of like JMS didn't want to take to time to make this a more natural part of the conversation, so just sorta forced it in there.

The intro of the Shade was ok. Not that impressed with him yet. His intro forwarded the missing homeless storyline, but I hope there's more to it than this. I also think JMS is overlooking some good opportunities to explore the dilemma of people who are homeless. He touched on it a bit, but it all seemed a bit too clean and nice to really ring true.

Basically, this is great issue.

Overall Rating...

Great story.