Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #57

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This story is part of an Arc: "Happy Birthday"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Peter teaches at a High School. MJ is back in Pete's bed. And Aunt May knows about Pete's secret ID and is cool with it.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #57
Nov 2003 : SM Title
Summary: (#498) Dormammu Returns
Arc: Part 1 of "Happy Birthday"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  Tony Harris
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Review
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #6
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Doctor Strange

This issue starts with some humourous stuff to do with Pete being his school's administrator and thus handing out a cooking book to his students instead of a science book. It's funny stuff and would definitely lose its touch in my translation. As a result he goes head to head with the administrator, who basically really enjoys annoying Peter.

Later, over dinner with MJ and Aunt May, Pete explains the situation. Aunt May tells him its no use in getting upset, its the administrator's nature to be like that. She uses some comparison to a lion.

After dinner Pete is in bed. MJ comes in and they snuggle up as they watch the lightning. Suddenly the lightning flashes red and Pete knows something is up. So he ducks out the window as Spidey. Downtown he finds a horde of interdimesional monsters called the Mindless Ones tearing up the place. A whole bunch of heroes including Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor and Cyclops are already battling them. Spidey jumps into the fray. During the battle he saves the office administrator, Julie, who lets on she's a Spidey fan, while Pete struggles to contain his disdain!

Mr. Fantastic eventually rigs some doohickey (as the Thing puts it) to send the Mindless Ones back to their dimension. It works, but as the process is finishing Dr. Starnge turns up fairly upset. Apparantly the whole thing was set up by his greatest enemy in a ploy to return him to earth from multiple dimensions. And Mr. Fantastic's device worked to get rid of the Mindless Ones, but also reconstituted this great evil. And as the dust settles, the evil Dormammu is revealed.

In General...

I don't know really about this issue. The start is great. The humour is really funny. I was laughing out loud. JMS has worked these little humour sequences in really well with his run and its become a real highlight. Then with have Aunt May's explanation for the administrator situation, which really doesn't make sense and seems really forced. I mean sure, maybe lions can't help hurting people since its in their nature. But, surely an office worker can stop themselves from being petty, manipulative and downright nasty. I just don't think it holds up and its only included to force in a moment where Peter can consider his 'spider' self and getting in touch with his 'spider-self'. These moments really make me groan. It's like new age Spider-Man. He needs to get in touch with his inner-self, but instead of finding his inner-child, its his inner-spider. I'm just not interested in this stuff. It always seems forced, boring and pointless. I know by now that JMS's isn't going to drop it. I just wish he would say what he wants to say and then move onto some other continuing plotline.

The fight scene is a little out of the blue, but the are some good moments there. It's great to see the shared nature of the Marvel Universe used. It doesn't seem like this is done enough. I remember in early issues of Amazing Spider-Man, written by Stan Lee, the Human Torch and Hulk used to turn up all the time. I think the reason people can get annoyed with it is when it becomes a cross over or you feel you have to pick up the guest character's book to get the whole picture. This issue doesn't feel like that at all. It comes across as natural. The only time it gets annoying is at the end, especially when Doctor Strange appears. Then it sorta of seems like Spidey's book has been hijacked and he's just a bit character. I really hope this doesn't continue for the rest of the storyline.

I don't know what it is with creators (JMS included) and their fetish for Dr. Strange. I just don't get it. And I haven't really seen anything with Spidey and Dr. Strange that seemed to work well or make sense. And Dormammu? I mean is it just me or his name ridiculous? I can tell whoever created him (Stan?) probably got a kick out of the kooky nature of the name. But, for a guy that is supposed be bad-assed and going to take on a whole bunch heroes? It just doesn't seem to fit. If I was Spidey, when Dr. Strange reveals the bad guy as Dormammu I would've giggled and poked fun at his name.

Overall Rating...

Overall a good comic with some classic humour moments.