Amazing Spider-Man #515 Review

Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Story Title: Skin Deep: Part 1 of 4

Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by: Mike Deodato and Mark Brooks
Inked by: Joe Pimentel, Jamie Mendoza
Colored by: Matt Milla
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit and Brian Reber
Publisher: Marvel Comics

You’d think that creating a good comic book villain would be a relatively easy task. All you really have to do is take normal but flawed soul, place him (or her) in a situation that exploits these flaws and finally have him snap at the world. It is preferable if you can manage an explosion or some other means of giving your characters powers. With such simple task you’d think there wouldn’t be so many poorly conceived, colorless bad guys out there. Character designs without characters if you will.

Following up the spit-take inducing controversial event “Sins Past,” (which I have very mixed feelings on) JMS travels more conventional ground in “Skin Deep” a tale who’s first chapter reads like a text-book example of Villain Creation 101. I do not mean this as an insult, merely a stating a matter of fact.

This issue introduces a previously unknown character by the name of Charlie Weiderman, the one student in Peter’s high school years who was actually more hapless than Peter. Flashing back to those painful years in Peter’s existence is a wonderful sequence drawn by Mark Brooks in a style resembling Takeshi Miyazawa’s work on Mary Jane.

Flash forward to the present and now Charlie a struggling scientist, just to trying to get by. Figuring not unwisely that there’s money in Military Contracts an idea hits him about a new kind of invulnerable soldier. You know where this is going. Peter Parker apparently does too and tries to help his former classmate find a job with Stark Enterprises. Unfortunately Charlie makes a few moves behind Parker’s back and pretty much guarantees things aren’t going to end happily.

Straczynski paves no new ground in the first chapter of “Skin Deep,” but manages to hit all the right notes while traveling familiar ground. Weiderman comes across as a suitably creepy, but sympathetic character, while Peter’s actions within the situation are perfectly understandable even though you just know he’s going to be blaming himself over this. In short “Skin Deep” is off to a good solid start. Deodato and Brooks pencils are as sharp as ever, and even their quite different styles manage to gel surprisingly well in the context of the story.