The Amazing Spider-Man #521

Story: Unintended Consequences
Reviewer: Paul Sebert

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Mike Deodato
Inker: Joe Pimentel
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: The Company Formerly Known as Timely

A.I.M, Checkmate, Kobra, The Watchdogs, The Secret Empire, H.E.A.T, Spider-Girl fans… these are just some of the nefarious terrorist groups that haunted the pages of comics history. However no terror group in the history of comics has the fabled history of Hydra.

Formed by the evil Nazi Baron Wulfgan Von Strucker, HYRDA was one of the first and most feared terrorist sects in the Marvel Universe. So evil is this organization, that their letters don’t even form an acronym. Taking their name from the Lernaean Hydra of Greek Myth, this organization has struck time and time again with more and more outlandish plots to conquer the world. Alas in recent year, HYDRA’s reputation has eroded to the point they’ve become generally perceived as a group of green and yellow costumed punching bags for Captain America. Despite a brief come-back during Mark Waid’s run, the group has never quite become back to form never showing the flair of the organization that had previously unleashed such cataclysmic plots as the Overkill Horn, and the Death Spore Bombs.

In recent months however HYDRA has shown signs of returning to it’s former glory. They’ve unleashed a mind-controlled Wolverine against the Marvel Universe during Mark Millar’s run on that title. They played a hand in the formation of the New Thunderbolts (not to be confused with that incarnation of Thunderbolts that was new, but wasn’t really Thunderbolts, it was more like super-powered Fight Club) until Strucker’s sudden death. And now in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, some hardline HYDRA purists have killed their more business minded associates and unleashed a swarm of Old Avengers doppelgangers to battle the New Avengers. Now for most supervillain groups an internal coup d’état and a big public fight scene potentially humiliating the Avengers would be enough. But no… not the new & improved HYRDA. This is just a warm-up, a set-up for a much more insidious plot. See the folks at HYDRA realize that they need some respect badly and what better way to get respect than by killing America.

No not Captain America, not the American government, they want to kill the most powerful country on earth through means so diabolical that I dare not spoil it in this review.

The Hydra plot is thrilling and it’s nice to see how much detail JMS has given in fleshing out this often over-looked group. That said not everything is perfect in this issue, there’s a subplot involving Mary Jane dealing with a paparazzi that kinda seems silly and feels like filler material when juxtaposed with the more serious cataclysmic plot. This makes the “cliffhanger” at the end of this issue lack punch. Furthermore considering Wolverine’s most recent troubles with Hydra one would think he’d be more involved in this storyline than the more or less comical role he’s played throughout this storyline.

Still Mike Deodato’s art is quite good, and story wise I’m overjoyed to see JMS back on his game it’s a good ride.