Amazing Spider-Man #518

Reviewer: Tim Byrne
Story Title : Skin Deep, Part 4 (of 4)

Writer : J. Michael Stracyzinski
Pencils : Mike Deodato
Inker : Joe Pimenthal
Colorist : Matt Milla
Letterer : Cory Petit (VC)
Editor : Axel Alonso
Publisher : Marvel Comics

The four part Skin Deep story wraps up here, in to-be-expected fashion.

One of the difficulties with ongoing serial titles such as Spider-Man, Batman etc. is a difficulty in maintaining any serious form of suspense or dramatic tension regarding the fate of the lead character.

We know that Spidey (or Batman, Superman) is not going to be killed. It’s just not ever going to happen in the context of the stories that are told on a monthly basis. Therefore, it is difficult to rely on danger to Spider-Man as a source of dramatic tension to drive the story, and a good writer should accept this and write around this limitation.

I raise this issue due to its difficulty with regard to the ‘Skin Deep’ storyline. In real life, if a new super-villain of this kind was running around New York being a menace, it would be horrifying and fascinating. In the universe of Spider-Man comics, we know that Spidey (probably using scientific know-how) will figure out a way to triumph, probably at the last moment.

I have therefore taken only modest enjoyment from the front-and-center battles between Spidey and the lead villain in this story. Having said that, many of the peripheral moments have a far greater impact. In particular, I have enjoyed the flashbacks to Peter’s childhood, as we see once again that it is not merely the spider-powers which have made Peter Parker a hero. Having said that, the flashbacks here, firstly seen as a vision of Peter while unconscious, seems more a story-telling device rather than an illumination into the souls of the respective characters. The second flashback, at the time of Charlie’s moving, is fairly non-descript, with the shot of a spider’s web just being too cute.

The interplay between Spidey and Tony Stark is also interesting, and ties into the developing relationship in New Avengers written at present by Brian Bendis. The events of the final page will also lead into this up-coming storyline.

In terms of my overall opinion, the story-line was moderately enjoyable, but I would be surprised if this villain is seen again any time soon, although that door has clearly been left open. Read this one for the side dishes, not the main course.

The art is, as always, breathtaking. Deodato beautifully captures Spidey in action, and his depiction of Mary Jane and Aunt May is spot-on. After looking at the main focus of the last page, check out the depiction of the two main characters for beautiful work by Deodato.

I literally have no idea about the next story-line, but I can only assume that the twist ending will come into play, along with the event in New Avengers.

Best quote : “Hey, this is New York, where the first rule is always just follow the sirens.”

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