Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #58

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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. Now Spidey is battling an interdimensional, mystical bad guy Dormammu, with the help of Dr. Strange and others...

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #58
Dec 2003 : SM Title
Summary: (#499) Dr. Strange Guest Appearance
Arc: Part 2 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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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #6
Articles: Doctor Strange

In essence not a whole lot happens this issue. Dr. Strange battles Dormammu while Spidey and the other heroes take on his henchmen, the Mindless Ones. As Dr. Strange prepares a spell to take care of Dormammu, but also kill himself at the same time, Spidey jumps in, not wanting Strange to sacrifice himself. There's an explosion of energies and Spidey wakes up with Strange in a weird dimension. Strange returns them to their own dimension, but they end up see-sawing back and forth through time and possible timelines.

Strange tells Spidey not to panic and to stay by him, but one of the timelines show the heroes dead and NY trashed. Obviously this stresses Spidey a bit, then he sees MJ running from some Mindless Ones. Strange warns Spidey not to go, but he does. He trashes a couples of the baddies, but while he's dealing with them one grabs MJ and Spidey turns just in time to see her neck get snapped. He lunges and time switches again, he has crahed into Aunt May's tombstone. He looks up to see an older version of himself turn and face the cops. Time switches. Spidey sees himself as a teen watching a familiar science experiment and a familiar irradiated Spidey dangle from the ceiling. Spidey is confused as these two moments play out. He recalls Doctor Strange's explanation of what is happening, that he may be able to change things... then the issue ends.

In General...

There's not really a whole lot to say about this issue. I feel like I won't really know what I think about until I've read the final part in the re-renumbered issue 500.

Most of the issue is Doctor Strange really, with Spidey as an annoying guest. I still have no real love of Dr. Strange and JMS isn't improving my attitude towards Strange by giving him more airtime than Spidey! The only thing I like about Strange's appearance and battle with Dormammu, is that it allows JR Jr the chance to draw some pretty funky scenes.

Then Spidey takes the spotlight for the end of the issue and the time jumping stuff. I almost get the feeling that all this stupid Dr Strange stuff is just an excuse to set up some alternate reality time of story. Which I think is a bit too much effort just to have Spidey revisit significant moments in his past and possible future.

I am looking forward to next issue though. If it is an exploration of alternate realities, etc I'll be pleased. One of my favourite Spidey stories is the one-shot Earth X: Spider-Man story, which explores an alternate future where Gwen lived etc. It was really touching. I have the feeling that JMS would be able to pull something like this off. I hope that's what next issue focuses on and that Dr. Strange and Dormammu take a back seat.

Overall Rating...

An okay comic, but I don't think it can really stand on its own. I'll truly make up my mind when next issue hits the shelves.