Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #520

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)


The Parker family has moved into Aveners Tower after Peter accepted membership in the New Avengers. Meanwhile, Hydra is solidifying itself, and prepares to launch a new attack on the world...

Story 'Acts of Aggression'

The new leader of Hydra rallies his troops, and unvails the warriors that Hydra will utilize to fight against their enemies.

Meanwhile, at 5:37am, May Parker gets ready for the day, and runs into Jarvis in the kitchen. They talk about Jarvis' duties as the Avengers' butler, and May decides to give Jarvis a break and take over for a while.

As Peter and Mary admire the skyline from their temporary accomodations in Avengers Tower, Jessica Drew, Luke Cage and Steve Rogers interrupt them to call them for breakfast. May stands up to Wolverine and puts him in his place during a morning tantrum about his breakfast, when Tony interrupts with news of an Avengers-level emergency.

Iron Man is the first to arrive at the scene of the emergency, to find "The Hammer," a Thor-lookalike with a Hydra symbol on his chest. The Hammer simulates Thor's powers, and the two engage in a brawl.

Next on the scene is Spider-Woman and Luke Cage, who encounter Karl, or "Tactical Force," a Hydra version of Iron Man. Luke Cage throws her at Karl, and the two spiral downwards and crash into the street.

Captain America engages "Militant", his own analogue, who has the Hydra symbol on his chest and his shield. The two run at each other.

Spider-Man sees a silhouette that looks like Hawkeye, only to find "The Bowman", the Hydra analogue of Hawkeye. Spider-Man evades his explosives, and just manages to deflect most of the explosive arrows away from a crowd of people, but can't stop serious damage to the pier.

Captain America is winning against his Hydra-double, until the double throws his shield at a glass ceiling, endangering two innocents, whom Cap saves with his shield, but loses the bad guy. All four of the Hydra operatives are signalled, and they leave the scene, with The Hammer unleashing an electromagnetic pulse upon Iron Man before he leaves.

The Daily Bugle has three photographers ready in position, leading to 3 front page shots of the Avengers, battered, bruised and beaten. Peter suspects something foul, contacts Robbie Robertson, and finds out that the press were tipped about the battle. Peter assembles the New Avengers, and figures out that the Hydra attack was orchestrated so that weapons of mass destruction could be smuggled successfully into the harbour by destroying all of the records at the docks...

General Comments

This was a pretty good story. Straczynski has proven himself to have a handle on Spider-Man as a solo operator, and also in a team-up situation. Now, he has Spider-Man operating in a team environment, and the results are surprising, yet pleasing. Peter isn't just the awkward fish out of water that he is portrayed as in New Avengers, but actually holds his own here. He's a veteran of the superhero scene, having been doing it since he was a teenager, and along the way, he's become quite the crimefighter. He's smart, and it's a testament to his character that it is he who figures out what Hydra is up to, and not someone else. Peter's got something to prove, by hanging with the Avengers, to prove that he really is a hero worthy of the title, and Straczynski perfectly captures this.

The fight sequence is fun, albeit a little campy. The use of cheesy codenames and cheesy rip-off costumes is fun and at the same time a nice move. The art by Deodato Jr. is powerful stuff, with a certain raw power to it, and it really works for this story. Everything seems deadlier, bigger, more powerful, like the stakes have been upped in the action, which is really what is happening in the spider-titles right now. He's stepped up to the big leagues, to the New Avengers. The art, and the pacing and scripting of the plot, compliment this shift quite well.

One of the standout scenes in this issue, however, is far removed from the actual fight sequence, and is instead the scene with May and Jarvis connecting and bonding with each other. This is a delightful sequence, with brilliant scripting, and some great accompanying pencils. May is a strong woman, and has been portrayed as such throughout Straczynski's tenure on the book, and she's really shining given these new circumstances for the Parker family. She acts perfectly in character, bonding with a man in a position similar to her own, caring for a hero who risks his life day in and day out. She also stands up to Logan in a priceless scene, which reminds me of when she cancelled her subscription to the Daily Bugle.

Overall Rating

Deodato's pencils make this book truly worthy of four webs. The scripting and plotting is excellent, but the moody and powerful pencils solidy the four web rating. Excellent stuff.

 Posted: 2005
 Staff: Adam Chapman (E-Mail)