Amazing Spider-Man #540


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Amazing Spider-Man #540


  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Ron Garney
  • Inks: Bill Reinhold
  • Colors: Matt Milla
  • Story Title: Back In Black: Part 2
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 9, 2007

As Aunt May lies in a hospital bed in a coma, Peter tracks down the men responsible for putting her there.

The black costume is back. Whether it’s a symbolic gesture reflecting Peter’s current state of mind or the fact that Spider-Man 3 recently stormed into theaters, black symbiote in tow (I suspect it’s a little from column A/a lot from column B), really doesn’t matter. What matters is that Peter is out for blood, and there’s pretty much nothing that is going to stop him from getting it.

Peter wastes no time getting down to the business of finding out who shot May. He’s become a man on the brink of a meltdown--perhaps a psychotic break--thanks to his aunt’s condition and the compounded pressures of his part in the Civil War. He threatens death, pounds bad guys into submission and haphazardly breaks bones in order to find his man. It’s a side of Peter Parker that is rarely seen, and his added remorselessness is especially surprising (though certainly understandable) at this point.

Though it was already revealed to readers last issue that Wilson Fisk has been pulling the strings from his prison cell, I must say that I am surprised how quickly Straczynski has moved this story along to the point where Peter has this information at his fingertips. Primarily relegated to Daredevil stories these days, it’s easy to forget that the Kingpin’s lecherous beginnings are rooted to Spider-Man. He is an evil force without conscience, and it’s sort of refreshing to see him back in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man taking advantage of Peter’s recent public unmasking in some way.

Garney, Reinhold and Milla are also doing a wonderful job with the visual aspect of this title. Spider-Man’s black costume is an iconic feature by itself, but simply by giving Spidey more threatening posture or making the reflective eyes more flat and slender, Garney gives visual presence to the anger of the man inside. One of the more impressive scenes, however, involves the use of spider sense for Peter to get his man. It’s something I’d expect to see in a Daredevil comic but is used to nice effect with Peter’s version of extra-sensory perception.

I’m sure there are some readers who do not like this dark change in character. It’s not heroic or noble--it’s self-serving and could possibly turn out to be something Peter regrets later. However, it is certainly understandable given all the things he’s gone through recently. In fact, I’d say this has been a long time coming…and the Kingpin is probably going to regret the game he’s playing with Peter’s life.

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