Overview

Amazing Spider-Man #544

Review

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Amazing Spider-Man #544

Credits

  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Joe Quesada
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Richard Isanove
  • Story Title: One More Day, Part 1
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 6, 2007

Straczynski’s final Spider-Man arc begins, with an overpriced, regular sized story, an overwrought regular-joe situation, and an overplayed everything else.

Aunt May remains in a coma, with little to no hope for recovery.  Worse, the police have finally gotten wise to the Parkers’ whereabouts, as well as their attempts to keep May’s medical attentions anonymous.  Now Peter, Mary Jane, and an ailing May are all on the run, catching a smattering of lucky breaks but largely in as serious a strait as they’ve ever been.  Lawless, nearly bankrupt, and his aunt's health swiftly deteriorating, Peter struggles to find a way to save his beloved aunt, even if it means tarnishing his name and image beyond all recourse.

That sounds god-awfully exciting, I know.  But my reading of this issue garnered reactions more along the lines of “dissatisfied,” “disappointed,” and “disgusted.”

From the offset, this is a difficult story to get behind.  May has already died and returned before - an event which Straczynski bizarrely ignores all mention of.  Peter and Mary Jane (as well as readers) have all been through this, and the dramatic impact of déjà vu isn’t what writers would claim it to be.  Basically, when a particular, named character’s death becomes formula , you know it’s a problem.  Regardless of the myriad caption boxes that wax operatic on Peter’s internal struggle and emotional instability, it’s just not buyable from a character or continuity standpoint.  Peter has dealt with personal tragedy more than any other super-hero known.  It’s his distinction as an icon.  So when his elderly, frail aunt, who’s lived a long and fulfilling life, lies at death’s door (again!), should it be treated as a major event?  Of course.  But can it really be called a life-altering tragedy?

“One More Day” wants readers to believe that May’s possible death (a situation she’s suffered numerous times in Spider-Man’s published past) would move Peter to criminal activities.  It also wants readers to believe that such criminal activities are somehow different from all the other criminal activities he’s enacted as Spider-Man (all those being defined as “near-criminal” here).  Straczynski wants readers to understand that Peter has always bent the law, but never broken it, which he now has.  Unfortunately, that’s just not true.  While last issue (#543) focused and catalogued the precise law-breaking minutiae Peter chose to do, hardly any of them are acts he hasn’t done before, especially the “assaulting an officer” charge, which, come on, he’s webbed-up, punched, tossed, and otherwise incapacitated dozens of policemen throughout his vigilante career.  And, hey, while we’re on the subject, being a vigilante is breaking the law, not bending it.

So, if you can stand it, “One More Day” is a head-splittingly melodramatic exploration of how to not to deal with stress (beyond punching things), and how to be “pushed to the limit”  at the least provocation, and how the ramifications of this story are oh-so-much-more than any other.  Straczynski’s script is poorly handled and exceedingly tired.  It’s hardly worth the time it takes to read.  He gives cookie-cutter explanations for his characters’ motivations (regurgitated straight from The Andy Griffith Show), has an Iron Man and Spider-Man fisticuff with the most affected dialogue I’ve read in years, and has everyone overcome with sadness over May’s impending death, even steel-hard resolved ex-MI-5 operative Jarvis, who knew May for maybe a few months, though for some reason can barely stand to look at her comatose body without swooning.

Joe Quesada steps in as artist for this storyline, which I’m not happy about.  Ron Garney was the only reason I’d been sticking around, and he was doing a bang-up job, but God forbid some super-star doesn’t get to take the glory for this media-centric finale.  As if in support of this, colorist Matt Milla is also replaced by Marvel’s resident super-star colorist Richard Isanove, who seems to be getting attached to every major Marvel “event” project that comes along, though by this point, after Origin, Ultimate Iron Man, The Dark Tower, and now this, his undeviating color scheme is getting old and, frankly, boring.

As a final criticism, this issue, along with every other “One More Day” chapter, is priced at the exorbitant $3.99 tag, though the story is only standard in length.  But the book is packed with extras.  Like an eight page history of Spider-Man.  You know, in case anyone didn’t know.  And because it’s integral to enjoying the story of May’s death.  Oh, and there’s a sketch section.  Oh boy.  Take my money, please.

Well, I can’t wait for whatever comes after Straczynski.  His run started with some great comics, but honestly, I haven’t been able to stand ASM since around the beginning of Civil War.  Hardly anyone isn’t going to buy this, but get ready to hold the comic away from your face and wince.  A lot.  This is one disgustingly unapologetic "event," and it is bad, bad, bad.

 

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