Friday, January 4, 2008
REVIEW :: Amazing Spider-Man #545
by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada
reviewed by Jason Wheatley
[NOTE: SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE CONCLUSION OF THE "ONE MORE DAY" STORY ARC IN THE SPIDER-MAN BOOKS, BE WARNED!]
Alright…let me take a deep breath and start this. This could very well be the most difficult review I’ve ever written. If you’ve had any passing familiarity with comics over the last several months, then you might have a good idea why. If you don’t, here’s the news: Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane is over. Done. Never happened. You might as well forget it, because everyone else in the Marvel Universe has. Oh, and that big-deal unmasking from Civil War? That’s gone too. Organic web shooters? Poof. In fact, the only thing that’s not gone seems to be Harry Osborn…he’s back.
As I said, this is a hard review for me to write, since it’s hard to look at something objectively when I disagree so strongly with it. Although for the record, I don’t disagree with the decision to end the marriage. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The problem I have lies with how it was done.
Lest this automatically turn into a rant, let me mention what I liked about this book. All other things aside, Joe Quesada can draw. The art over the “One More Day” arc got progressively better, culminating in the first two-thirds of this issue. The darkness of the art really hits how this is the darkest time in the characters’ lives, and the hardest decision they may ever have to make. Mephisto has never looked more evil, and the two-page flashback highlighting points in the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane as the marriage fades from existence is incredible. Still good, but lacking a little something, is the latter third of the issue, which Quesada inks himself, instead of Danny Miki. I assume the lighter inks are meant to convey the brightness and happiness of Spider-Man’s “Brand New Day,” but the transition was a little more jarring than I would have liked.
Now, the story: J. Michael Straczynski has basically publicly washed his hands of this story, and I can’t say I blame him. In this issue I didn’t find the ham-fisted dialogue of the previous chapter, but what I did find was a story hinged not only on the main characters acting tremendously out of character for themselves, but also out of character for anyone who would even consider calling him or herself a hero. Bottom line, Spider-Man, Marvel Comics’ flagship character, made a deal with the devil. Not as in striking an alliance with a former enemy, but as in a literal deal with the literal devil, or at least the Marvel Universe equivalent. In a comic-book universe where it’s no longer kosher for characters to smoke tobacco products, it’s lazy and irresponsible storytelling to show its most prominent character solving his life’s problems in this way. The editorial mandate was clearly written on the walls of this story, and it suffers as a result.
For the sake of brevity and not wanting to go on a tirade, I won’t mention all the continuity problems and stories that just no longer make sense due to rebooting one character and no one else. But they’re there, and I can’t help but wonder how Marvel intends to explain it all away. “It’s magic, we don’t need to explain it” is not a good answer. But it looks like that’s all we’re getting for now. In the meantime, I guess I will look forward to the huge influx of talent coming onto Amazing Spider-Man in the coming months, and try to forget what it took to get them there.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my opinions, but how did all of you blog readers out there in Internetland feel about the ending to “One More Day”? And what does this do for your interest in “Brand New Day”? Discuss!