It’s back to The Amazing Spider Man! Once Dan Slott brought Peter Parker back, he seemed determined to make the main character as unlikable as possible. The comics went through some dark times, but these issues aren’t related to Slott. I believe it’s because they are .1 issues, but at the same times, the plot feels relevant enough where these issues could be main ones. Regardless of where this takes place, Spider Man is back to being a good character with an engaging plot like the good ole days. It’s a pretty good Spider Man story. While I won’t let me enthusiasm get the better of me and say that this is worthy of a 9 or that it’s one of the best Spider Man comics ever, it’s a good improvement and hopefully this sets the bar for future Spider Man stories.
There is a gang war going on with the various villains trying to grab some power. Wilson Fisk, Tombstone, and a gallery of other big gang members want to seize control and that’s being really bad for Yuriko. She is a cop who is in charge of the district where all of the action is and while she may be good, she’s not ready to tackle supervillains. She decides that it’s time for Wraith to take command again (Her alter ego) and she slowly starts to cross the line between being a hero and a villain. Spider Man tries to warn her many times, but then he must make a choice. Does he continue to try and persuade her to join the light again or should he take her down before innocents are hurt? These questions are pondered as all of the villains make their move.
As mentioned earlier, this comic was fun to read the writing was actually well done this time around. Spider Man felt like the experienced veteran that he should be portrayed as. He was able to easily dispatch foes like Bullseye and Hobgoblin with no real effort. Spider Man is powerful despite only having the “proportionate strength of a spider” and his spider sense is an invaluable ability that can get him out of just about any jam. Spider Man also has to make a hard choice with Wraith and I’d say that he made the right one. He gave her a chance, but at the end of the day, Spider Man can’t let the fight against crime get personal. If she’s crossing the line, then it’s time to go and take the win.
It was interesting to see some of the gang members also show some loyalty for once. When Black Cat tried to move into the territory, the minions were not buying it. They still work for Tombstone even if he’s in jail. It’s commendable for what it’s worth. I can’t say that Tombstone and Hobgoblin should really invite that much respect considering that they’re always getting busted, but they can fight, which is always a game changer. In fact, Tombstone gets his his own fight in this comic, which is actually pretty impressive. It’s not very surprising to longtime comic readers who remember the days when he would actually fight, but still good to see. Some villains stop fighting and get rusty like Green Goblin.
Black Cat’s sideplot seems like it’s going nowhere fast as she still blames Peter for what Ock was doing for so long. I suppose that it can be tough to accept that someone else was controlling Spider Man’s body for so long, but in a world where aliens visit every other Tuesday, that should not be a huge issue. These things happen and not being friends anymore is one thing, but she turned back into a complete villain. I do like the new costume though and the ASM series has been pretty good with giving old characters new designs that are an improvement over the originals, but I hope that Black Cat makes a move and soon to avoid the usual formula.
Mr. Negative gets a fairly large role in this comic collection as he helps to steer Wraith down the wrong path. He presents Wraith with the alluring offer of some evidence to take down other villains so that he can gain some territory. It’s an intriguing proposition since Wraith can take down some villains, but then he can make a move. Personally, it sounds like a good bet, provided that Wraith keeps some perspective on this. If you got some evidence that could take down a few big mobsters, wouldn’t you accept it even if it was from someone who was not exactly a law abiding citizen? I personally don’t have a problem with this.
Naturally, the issue isn’t black and white. The evidence helped Wraith put a corrupt judge behind bars, but the judge’s family was also in a bind, which is why he made the move. The evidence was also only partially accurate. So, Wraith can take the judge down, but some innocents will be lost or she can let him go free and then more innocents may be convicted or the flip side of villains getting away scott free with more blackmail. These are some pretty heavy choices and Wraith has made this very personal because one of her comrades was destroyed in the line of fire during one of the earlier gunfights.
Of course, Wraith goes too far when she takes a life and acts like a vigilante through and through, but up until that point, she hadn’t really crossed the line. A little breaking and entering, intimidation, deceit, but these are things that you could picture Batman or even Captain America doing when necessary. I think Spider Man may have blown some of these acts out of proportion, but a small spark can lead to a fire and in the end we see that Spider Man was right to be worried.
Of course, you can sympathize with why Wraith is frustrated with the system. Villains break out of jail constantly and consistently get around to hurting more people. Batman is used to his villains getting out of jail within a day and the same could be said for Marvel’s prisons. The system is very corrupt in the comics with a lot of cops being on the villain’s payroll. Lawyers are so good that felons get to leave jail on technicalities a lot and justice is rarely served as more and more people are added to the body count. Still, Spider Man is right when he says that this essentially doesn’t matter.
Saying it like that looks bad so I’ll clarify here. Of course it matters and that’s why you have the people without powers trying to fix the system or at least improve it. At the same time, the heroes can’t take justice into their own hands or they will become villains and be a problem for the others. They can just keep on taking out the villains as quickly and efficiently as possible to save as many people as possible. They can help the cops, but they can’t actually become the executioners. Spider Man’s certainly been tempted to go too far, but he keeps himself in check and that’s where his famous responsibility comes from. That’s why being a superhero isn’t for everyone. Some just can’t handle it and turn into the next Punisher.
One area where The Amazing Spider Man is typically not lacking is in the art. It’s nice and streamlined for the duration of the issues and the fight scenes are pretty good. Good art makes a good comic even better so I was able to blast through this collection while standing in line for the new Star Wars film. It’s a good way to get yourself hyped for the feature film. With the writing also being solid, this made the comic a complete experience.
Overall, This is probably the best Amazing Spider Man volume that I’ve read in the modern era. If we’re counting special events like Ends of the Earth, then that changes, but this was definitely a good comic. Wraith also makes for a compelling vigilante/villain who tries to do the right thing, but is a little too extreme about it. I’m almost positive that her character will return at some point, but it’s definitely hard to say when this could be. If you’re looking for an emotional collection that discusses morality and letting the system do its job, this is the comic for you. You can finally see Spider Man as he was meant to be portrayed. Eventually I’ll probably check out another volume in this series with the main issues so hopefully it can be this solid.