Amazing Spider-Man #523

Reviewer : Tim Byrne

Title : Extreme Measures
Writer : J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils : Mike Deodato
Inker : Joe Pimentel
Colorist : Matt Milla
Letterer : Cory Petit
Editor : Axel Alonso
Publisher : Marvel Comics

The cliff-hanger last episode is continued, as Spidey is confronted with carbon copies of four Avengers intent on doing mischief to him.

JMS is trying so hard to recapture the snappy repartee which, more than many other things, is the trademarks of the Peter Parker that we all know and love. Well, that those of us with taste know and love, at any rate.

Throughout the wildly kinetic initial fight scene, Spidey peppers the action with attempts at comedy that vary in effectiveness. I would also argue that the varying quality of humour is actually an effective form of characterisation. Spidey throws out the one-liners partly out nervousness and bravado; there’s no constitutional requirement for them all to be comedy gold.

As could have been anticipated, the real Avengers certainly make an appearance, and I must say that the initial two lines from Captain America made me laugh out loud, something which all of Spidey’s witticisms had not achived.

The use to which Cap’s shield is put is almost heavy-handed in its symbolism, but still struck a note with me. That shield is one of the premier symbols in comics, so it should be put to good use whenever justified by the story.

Cap’s flashback while Spidey is attempting to save the day rings true for the character, and gives us another idea of the level at which this game is played. That is, being a hero has its cost, and those who attempt to save the day don’t always succeed.

Even in comics.

In any event, Spidey’s closing monologue over the last few pages is pitch-perfect, even though the outcome is fairly apparent. Succeeding far more than JMS’s earlier attempts, it recaptures the spirit of Stan Lee’s famous Spidey monologue where he attempts to rise from beneath a crushed building to save his sick Aunt May.

The art in this issue is simply superb. From the splashy fight scenes to the emotion on Peter’s face in the closing pages, credit is due to Deodao and also to Joe Pimentel on inks for portraying a real human story amongst the super-hero action.

I’m not positive how this tale will end, but I’m loving this Spidey, and enjoying the fact that no landmark continuity had to be endangered for this result to be achieved.