Overview

Amazing Spider-Man #538

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Amazing Spider-Man #538

Credits

  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Ron Garney
  • Inks: Bill Reinhold
  • Colors: Matt Milla
  • Story Title: The War at Home – Part 7
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 21, 2007

Since the Civil War began, perhaps no other superhero’s personal life has been more affected by the events than Spider-Man’s.

Because of Peter’s unmasking and the imminent dangers that came with it, Mary Jane and Aunt May have been in hiding since the beginning of the superhero skirmish. As it turns out, one of Spidey’s cruelest and most powerful foes has decided to turn this public revelation of Peter’s against him and his dearly beloved. A target amongst the three is chosen, and at the end of the day, the Civil War fallout is going to be the least of Peter Parker’s worries.

Buzz around comic shops and the internet is that the core Civil War book was not nearly as well-received as a lot of the individual tie-in books like Amazing Spider-Man. Up until this final act of "The War at Home" I would have certainly agreed. While the first six acts of this arc were focused more on Peter and his new struggles, this last issue sort of meanders a bit while giving Straczynski’s commentary on Civil War. It’s all a set up for a final page that, frankly, is telegraphed from the opening page.

A lot has been said of Joe Quesada’s disliking of the Peter/Mary Jane marriage, and so fans have been grumbling for months that all the unmasking was doing was staging a new way to kill her off. Certainly, from the get-go that’s what JMS looked to be doing. It was a nice bit of—I’m sure—corporate guidance that at the end of the day looks like Marvel finally not letting the cat out of the bag…if, in fact, Mary Jane maintains a pulse beyond the pages of this issue.

However, this and the perpetrator of the attack (hint: it’s not Norman Osborn for once!), are the only good story moments to come out of this issue. The rest, as I’ve already stated, reads like a reflection on Civil War; what it means to be a hero and all that jazz. It’s as if JMS could only come up with about half an issue of new material of relevance to the title character, and had the art fill a few big splash pages to compensate.

Speaking of the art, I’m looking forward to seeing more Ron Garney on this title. Given more time, his crisp, dynamic and detailed work has the potential to stand alongside Bagley’s and Romita’s as the finest on the title in the past decade. I would be remiss, however, to forego mentioning Bill Reinhold’s inks as well. This issue has an unmistakable darkness to it, but that impression might be less obvious if not for a talented inker setting the tone.

While this issue’s big conclusion sets the stage for the upcoming "Back in Black" storyline, on the whole it leaves something to be desired. Straczynski has proven himself adept at handling emotional stories in the past, so I’m hoping he steps it up from here.

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