Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #554

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)

Story 'Burned'

Spidey dives in to save Crowne, who isn't too grateful. He says that, if Spider- Man hadn't been there, then neither would Freak. Spidey tries to draw him away by scaling a building – but Freak just follows. As he does, he smells Meth being cooked up in a nearby lab and is drawn to it. Spider-Man hits him with a tracer and follows. As he crashes in with his camera, Freak is smoking, erm, meth.

Freak lunges for him but drops a lighter as he does so. Peter loses half his mask in the scrap. The whole apartment goes up in flames and, as the police close in, Spidey ditches the costume and emerges holding his camera as Peter Parker. He thinks Freak has burned up.

Freak has survived, however and possibly undergone another mutation.

Back at the DB and Peter gets $2,000 for his photos. On the news later that night, however, the photos are used by Dexter to promote the paper by supposedly showing Spider-Man trying to assassinate Crowne.

Peter is pining for Jonah! He decides to go to the hospital to see him – but can't do so as Peter as it was he who gave him the heart attack in the first place. He goes as Spider-Man and is let in as a party entertainer. All is going well ... until Spidey lets slip that Marla sold the Bugle to Dexter Bennett. JJJ flatlines and Spidey gives him mouth-to-mouth before the medical crew take over.

At the Rainbow Room, Peter meets up with Harry and Lily. Lily says she's relieved Peter didn't take the horrible pictures of Spider-Man (he did – but Dexter put the wrong byline). She asks him to tip her off about any future muckraking. There is definitely chemistry between the two.

Meanwhile, Lily's father, who is standing for mayor, also decides to denounce Spider-Man.

Carlie tells Peter that Curt Connors came to her office to take a sample of Freak. As Spider-Man, Pete goes to Connors' lab where Curt fills him in about the six syringes being stolen, which has turned the addict into Freak. Curt says that Freak just reverts to a chrysalis form and won't be dead. But he gives Pete a vial that, if he puts on the chrysalis, will keep Freak in stasis of sorts. Spidey returns to the burned-out lab ... but there is no sign of Freak.

General Comments

This is the best issue of Bob Gale's three-issue arc. All the running plotlines are kept going – the mayoral elections, Jonah in hospital, the Lily/Harry/Peter triangle. Meanwhile the Freak one is resolved – of a sort.

The issue flows much better and seems less disjointed than Gale's other two issues.

There is one major issue though. If Peter was reverted from a married man in order to de-age him and make him more accessible for young people THEN WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WHEN A CHARACTER IS SHOWN SMOKING METH?!

This isn't Harry being shown as being on the edge and portraying drug use as damaging. This isn't educational at all. Not that it's promoting drug use either. But is the message that you shouldn't do drugs else you'll turn into a supervillain? It's just bizarre and I don't really understand the purpose of that particular scene being in the issue.

Overall, the three-issue arc has been OK. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary and, in truth, nothing that couldn't have been done before One More Day.

Overall Rating

A more even story. Jiminez's art is as solid as ever – and we finally get Lily's punchline for Dexter constantly getting Peter's name wrong. Not that it's THAT funny.

 Posted: 2008
 Staff: Kerry Wilkinson (E-Mail)