Jason’s Corner – NOW why is Peter upset?

The Amazing Spider-man 655

While scanning the shelves of my new favorite local comic shop for a Marvel issue to review this week, the cover alone of The Amazing Spider-man #655 warranted further exploration.  The solid white background makes the kneeling, mask-less Peter Parker stand out dramatically while the red spider web beneath him resembles cracked glass.  What tragic event merits such a dramatic cover? I had to find out.

The somber mood is continued inside with ten pages devoid of dialogue or inter-titles. The silence of these ten pages really captures the emotional paralysis that often accompanies the loss of a loved one – especially if that loss is unexpected.  Marcos Martin’s wonderful artwork is eventually complimented by Dan Slott’s writing as the rest of the issue delves into the psychological trauma that Peter Parker is once again enduring.  This latest death resurrects guilt over the many deaths for which he has felt responsible.  There are haunting images of faceless parents, an impaled Green Goblin, and Gwen Stacy with a broken neck. 

Parker’s frustration is exemplified in a wonderful Escher-like scene that features two of the most forgettable additions to the Marvel universe – the spider-buggy and the Scarlet Spider.  Subconscious versions of Wolverine, Punisher, Sentry, and even Captain America question whether Spidey has done enough in the battle against evil.  This leads Parker to reenact the famous “it’s not my problem” scene.  This time Spider-man beats the man to a pulp only to discover he’s actually bludgeoned Uncle Ben himself, symbolically destroying everything Ben taught him.  After promising he’ll never lose control and kill again, he’s confronted by the countless lives he’s failed to save. This is a great juxtaposition of images where Slott demonstrates the paradox of a hero who doesn’t kill but fails to save those he loves.

In the end, Parker stands overlooking the city and swears that no one will die whenever he’s around.  One page later, a hostage is shot in the head.  It doesn’t look promising for our friendly neighborhood hero.

Overall, I love a psychological drama.  Comic art lends itself well to portraying the subconscious.  My biggest criticism of the issue is: “Who cares?”  The reader undergoes this fantastic psychological journey that in itself is a rewarding reminder of what makes Spider-man such an interesting character, but the death of Marla Jameson hardly seems to matter much in the scheme of things.  Marla died because Spider-man couldn’t save her.  Hmm. Where have I read that before?  Now I admit that I’m not a Spidey fan. So perhaps I’m missing just how essential of a character Marla really was.  If so, set me straight. 

If it is Mary Jane’s funeral, I love this book.  But the death of Marla Jameson is just a lame excuse to write the same old Spider-man story.  I give it three skulls.

Some other quick reviews of recent comics:

The Amazing Spider-man 654.1 – Two skulls. Flash Thompson’s lame football jokes were too much. Plus I don’t like the cartoonish art.

Uncanny X-Force #5 – Four skulls. I love that Marvel resurrected Deathlok and any book that quotes Voltaire and Descartes is money.

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I've been a comic nerd since Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and the Super Friends. So someone please explain to me, when did Aquaman become so cool? Also, why isn't She-Hulk in more media?


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