Overview

Amazing Spider-Man #530

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Amazing Spider-Man #530

Credits

  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Tyler Kirkham
  • Inks: Jay Leisten
  • Colors: John Starr
  • Story Title: Mr. Parker Goes to Washington, Part 2
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Mar 22, 2006

Peter Parker and Tony Stark face villains mightier and more ferocious than their heroic counterparts ever have—politicians.

We are on the brink of Marvel’s Civil War and Peter Parker and Tony Stark descend on Capital Hill to debate the inevitable "Registration Act." After a brief explanation of what he should expect in Washington, Peter takes temporary leave of his boss and gets used to his new costume. The next day they are given time to speak their piece to predictable ends—remember they’re dealing with politicians. The tension rises and Titanium Man appears with an assignment to apparently kill Tony or Peter....

A few years ago, J. Michael Straczynski single handedly revitalized everyone’s favorite wall-crawler and turned Marvel’s flagship title from a sinking piece of jetsam to what it should be: a comic book that defines superheroism in the postmodern age. Since he took over the writing chores, we have seen Spider-Man face some of his darkest foes, grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. He has stumbled into some monumental occasions, and come out a better man. Now, as he faces the United States government (or what is standing in its place in these days of fear and loathing Hunter S. Thompson warned us about oh so many years ago), everything he has learned and gained will hopefully be enough to keep him alive. Beyond the tense story, Straczynski’s characterization is right on. Peter is friendly with Tony, but keeps him at arm’s length by repeatedly referring to him as "Boss." There is a clear gulf between these two men. Though they have similar histories and beliefs, money and a slight age difference keeps them from ever truly being friends. Peter really only has one shoulder to cry on and that is Mary Jane’s. It is obvious when he tells her something he would never tell Tony—his doubts:

...I just feel like I’m in way over my head. I mean, at the end of the day, I’m a kid from the neighborhood, this isn’t my kind of scene...

The action takes over from there as Titanium Man tries to accomplish his mission and Straczynski leaves the reader with some ominous double-meaning words from Spider-Man himself.

As for the art, Tyler Kirkham is a Top Cow artist who is temporarily taking over after the likes of John Romita Jr., Mike Deodato, and Ron Garney. These three have distinctly gritty, dark styles filled with heavy shadows and almost sketchy scenes that add to the street level feel of the book and Spider-Man’s general personality as a hero for the people. Kirkham, on the other hand, is at odds with his predecessors. He can clearly tell a panel to panel story well, but his art tends to lean more towards a Michael Turner-esque bend (that frankly makes me wish Mary Jane had more face time this issue; I’m a fan of the unrealistically goddess-like beauty). He uses sharp, hard lines and a hint of manga in the characters if not in the backgrounds which are sometimes sparse. The biggest problem about Kirkham’s art however, is that Peter looks more like his Ultimate Spider-Man counterpart in many panels, not the thirty-something adult he is in the Marvel Main. While this can be hard to see past, when he is in costume, even if it is a new one, he is Spider-Man and I admit, the action does flow nicely, almost akin to a classic Jim Lee fight scene.

In the end, Spider-Man is looking down the gun of quite possibly his most dangerous times and looking good while doing it. And with Straczynski at the helm, anything could happen. If you left the title because you didn’t like where it was going before, this is the opportune moment to return. You may find you like where it ended up.

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