A Disappointing End to an Amazing Run
A few months ago I started going through my Spider-Man collection, re-reading, and reviewing them, starting with the The Amazing Spider-Man by JMS Ultimate Collection. I have took some time getting back round to them, but I finally have, and this is the last review on that series, but I will be continuing onto the stories that would follow this run.
Whilst the superhero Civil War is going on, Spider-Man (Peter Parker) has to decide which side he's one, which would lead him to revealing his identity to the public, and suffering the consequences.
Aunt May has been shot, and is dying, and Peter goes somewhere he hasn't gone before, wanting vengeance on anyone involved in the shooting.
Peter is desperate to save Aunt May, and will go to any lengths to save her.
This was a brilliant book, but probably the most inconsistent in the run, having one brilliant story, a average/good story, and a questionably poor story. J. Michael Straczynskii did an amazing job during his run on Spider-Man, and this book showed that, but it also showed inconsistency as well. I did however enjoy how all three stories from this book go great together, as you'd be able to enjoy this book, without reading the previous ones. I also loved the emotion throughout this book, and enjoyed seeing Peter become a bit dark as well. Joe Quesada would also contribute to the writing in this volume, co-writing the final story, One More Day. Now Quesada always seems to jump on board whenever there's a controversial idea, and this was a very controversial one. I personally didn't like that story myself, but unlike most people it's not really the drastic change that I didn't like, but the way it was handled.
The art on this volume would main be from Ron Garney, but Tyler Kirkham would have art feature in the Civil War prequel, and Joe Quesada would do the artwork on One More Day. Now I wasn't really a fan of any of these artists work on Spider-Man, as although I've enjoyed their art on other series, there were things that I disliked about their Spider-Man art. Garney's art however was probably the best, as it was very dynamic, and dark, showing plenty of emotion. It also had some amazing action sequences, also having a brilliant layout as well. Kirkham's small art contribution was also good, but I felt that his art was a little too rough at times. Quesdada's art was also not as good as I've seen it in other stuff such as Daredevil, as although it was realistic at times, I wasn't a fan of how he drew Peter. I did however like his drawings of Peter in the Spider-Man costume, and there was a huge amount of detail in his art as well.
Now I usually talk about certain things I liked throughout the graphic novel, or comic at this point, but due to this being a collection of three stories I felt that it'd be appropriate to talk about them individually, also rating them individually. I won't however be taking more on the writer, and artists unless absolutely necessary, as I've talked about there work in general throughout this entire book, and feel it unnecessary to add anything more.
Civil War changed a lot in the superhero world, but individually Spider-Man would be one of the most affected by this. Both the Mr. Parker Goes to Washington prequel story, as well as the main Civil War story itself were great, and although they weren't special, they were a good tie-in to the main event. The build-up in the prequel story was just brilliant, as although it was nothing special, the interaction between Peter, and Iron Man (Tony Stark) was amazing, and I found it interesting how Tony had a different view on the Super-Human Registration Act in this.
The main thing that would change in Spider-Man's life during Civil War was that he revealed his identity, something that he has guarded closely all his life. Now this was a risky decision to make, but ultimately a very interesting one. I did however feel that the way Peter thought over it in this wasn't brilliant, as although it showed him contemplating the pros, and cons, I thought it would've taken him longer than it was. I was however in two minds over this showing of it, as although it's nice that they didn't copy the Civil War sequence completely, it made it feel a bit broken, as if it wasn't a whole sequence, but only part of one.
The consequences for this would be shown quickly, with civilians being very upset with this decision. I personally enjoyed this, as it gave a more realistic, and gritty tone to the story, also allowing it to be very unique compared to the other Civil War tie-ins. I also enjoyed seeing Peter contemplate whether he's made the right decision, which added more suspense, and drama to the story, as did the interaction between him, Aunt May, and Mary Jane.
This story would also see Spidey go up against Captain America himself. I just loved how this was handled, and how it was clear that Spider-Man had nothing but respect for Cap. I also enjoyed the interaction between Cap, and Spidey throughout this encounter, and how both characters didn't want to fight, but gave it their all, making for something really exciting. I also loved the art during this sequence, as it was so majestic, being truly awe-inspiring.
This is a brilliant tie-in story, as although it isn't amazing, having a few holes in the plot, it was still very entertaining, having some outstanding interactions, as well as some exciting sequences.
Back in Black
WARNING: THIS WILL SPOIL CIVIL WAR!
Back in Black has to be one of Straczynski's best stories during his magnificent run, as although this book is inconsistent overall, this story was phenomenal. Spider-Man going back to the black suit was also cool, as it showed that he was in a totally different mood now. I've also always loved seeing the black suit, as I think it's nice and sleek, also adding plenty of mood, and tone to the story, whilst helping with the overall atmosphere.
The reason that Peter is in this mood is due to his Aunt May getting shot, and put into a coma. This just goes to show the consequences of revealing his identity, and that the fears he had were justified. It was also interesting to see Peter beat himself up due to this, as it added so much emotion to the story. It was also nice to see how Mary Jane reacted to this, and how the two of them managed to get her into a hospital was very interesting.
This story would also see a darker side to Peter, something that I loved, as although when I first started reading this story I questioned whether it was the right path for Spidey to go down, as the darker side of being a superhero has never done him any favours in the past, I ultimately feel that it was as good thing. It was especially good for the story, as giving the circumstances it'd be hard to make something out of the situation. I also ultimately felt that this darker side was what made this such a great story, as it was so emotionally brilliant.
WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD!
I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but this next part is hard to avoid, so I thought I'd warn anyone who knows nothing about the story. The person revealed to be behind the shooting of Aunt May was none other than the Kingpin, with this actually being revealed at the end of Civil War. I though this added the perfect villain to this story, as although during Straczynski's run we've seen mostly new villains, with the only other classic villain being Doctor Octopus, it was nice to have another classic make an appearance, and who better than the Kingpin? There would also be a great fight sequence between Spidey, and Kingpin in this story, which was truly awesome, being both exciting, and entertaining, as well as emotional, and dark.
This was an amazing story, and possibly the best that Straczynski would produce in his run on the series, being very emotional, and dark, with great drama, and brilliant depth.
One More Day
This story would see the continuation of Peter trying to save his Aunt May, being willing to go to any lengths to do so. Now when I first read the sequence where Aunt May getting shot, as well as the story of her in hospital up until now interesting, I felt now that it was going on a little long. I do however feel that it was a good decision not to have resolved it in Back in Black though, as it would have taken away from the story's mood, and was happy that it was to be finished in this story.
This story has become pretty famous over the years, but not in the way you'd hope, as it's one of the most controversial stories in the last ten years, causing a lot of Spider-Man fans to drop the series. I myself wasn't very happy with this story, but to be honest it wasn't as much down to the controversy, as although I personally wasn't happy with the decision, there have been others that I have seriously been upset about. I was however not happy with how this controversial change was made, as it was in a very sudden, and dull way, which wasn't nice.
This story would also feature a certain magician named Doctor Strange, who Spidey goes to for help in saving Aunt May. Now I'm not the biggest Doctor Strange fan, but I do like it when he makes an appearance, and although this wasn't the best, it was still a good choice, even if slightly obvious. The interaction he had with Spidey during this was also brilliant, and I loved how it worked itself into a flashback, as I always enjoy flashbacks.
Another character that would appear in this story was Mephisto, who makes Peter the ultimate deal to save Aunt May. Mephisto is a great villain when used properly, and although like Doctor Strange this was far from his best appearance, he was handled brilliantly. What I loved most about Mephisto's part in this story was that it was classic Mephisto, with him wanting to make a deal. I also enjoyed the sinister tone he added to the story, as well as the elaborate illusions that he place throughout the story.
From one of Straczynski's best stories to one of his worst, this was a story full of controversy, and although that isn't what I disliked most, it didn't help make it any better, as with the story being dull, with poor pacing it's sad to see another problem with it.
Although probably the most inconsistent book in Straczynski's run this was still an amazing volume, having some brilliant moments. It also would have some bad moments, but the amazing moments made up for the poor ones. The volume itself had some brilliant action, and a lot of emotion, as well as a lot of drama, and some suspense. I am however torn on recommending this book, as although it's brilliant, and I would do, I'd probably only really recommend the Civil War, and Back in Black parts (especially Black in Black), so if you can get them cheaper than this book I'd recommend that.
The next Spider-Man book I'll be reviewing will be Spider-Man: Brand New Day Volume 1.