The Road to Civil War is well paved this week. The prelude chapters from Amazing Spider-Man come to a close, reviewed below, while the Fantastic Four chapters also ship, to be reviewed later this week.

General Information

Title: Amazing Spider-Man #529-531

Author: J. Michael Straczynski

Illustrator(s): Ron Garney pencilled issue 529, while Tyler Kirkham pencilled issues 530-531.

Original Publication Date: These issues were published from February to April 2006.

Cover Price: Issues 529 and 530 are priced at $2.50 US, $3.50 Can. Issue 531 is priced at $2.99 US, $4.25 Can.

Premise

Iron Man gives Spider-Man a new outfit, and new responsibilities that bring him to Washington.

High Point

The editors’ notes in issue 530.

Low Point

Multiple arms during the beating of Titanium Man. I know it’s meant to show the speed the blows are striking, but without continual blurring, it looks like Peter’s regrown the extra arms he had way back when. These are still images, and without colouring turning those fists into arcs, it just doesn’t work, (particularly since the left arm never gets very close to the target.)

The Scores

This is an original take on setups we’ve seen before. We’ve had new looks for characters many times, but this one actually makes a difference in the story, and is well motivated by the gifter. Stark would want Peter to have this kind of gear for what he knows is coming. Given what this is also setting up in the long run, it makes a lot of sense. I’m not saying I want a permanent change (as I’m not sure I like Peter with that much power), but as something that will become a symbol of his relationship with Stark in the coming months, I think it has a lot of potential. Add in the twists with Peter’s latest job, and the take on Titanium Man, and there’s a lot of new stuff here. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork from Garney is great. I hate it when artists switch mid-story, though, and that happens here. Kirkham isn’t bad, but I’m not all that thrilled with his faces outside the costumes, particularly in the early pages of issue 530. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is well plotted, with action, comedy, and drama neatly balanced to set up the Civil War in some rather interesting ways. Most importantly, it feels like a story worth telling, and not like a story that’s sole purpose is to set up the Civil War. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is the foundation of the story, which is why it works so well. We see aspects of Peter and Stark that show us how they work together, where their similarities are, and where their fundamental differences are. (I’m sure that stewing on this some more will help me figure out why it feels wrong to call them Parker and Tony. Spider-Man is a first name hero, while Iron Man is a last name hero, though I can’t pin down why.) I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is great. The Lincoln Memorial scenes are nice pieces of foreshadowing, and are emotionally resonant for those of us who know what’s coming. (And I’m not even American, so the landmark itself doesn’t do anything for me just by existing or being included; it has to be used in some way, and it is.) Add in the editor’s notes, which literally had me laughing out loud, and it’s just a great read. This has a little bit of everything that makes Spider-Man who he is, while still making itself a piece of the Marvel Universe. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow is disrupted a bit with the artist change, but it’s not at a critical point in the story. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a solid Spider-Man story, with or without a Civil War on the horizon. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Amazing Spider-Man #529-531 receives 34 out of 42.

Civil War Review Checklist

  • New Avengers: Illuminati Special
  • Amazing Spider-Man #529-531
  • Fantastic Four #536-537
  • Civil War #1-7
  • Civil War: Frontline #1-10
  • Amazing Spider-Man #532-537
  • Black Panther #18
  • Cable/Deadpool #30-32
  • Captain America #22-24
  • Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways #1-4
  • Civil War: X-Men #1-4
  • Daily Bugle: Civil War Edition
  • Fantastic Four #538-543
  • Heroes for Hire #1-3
  • Iron Man #13-14
  • Ms. Marvel #6-8
  • New Avengers #21-25
  • Punisher: War Journal #1-3
  • She-Hulk #8
  • Thunderbolts #103-105
  • Wolverine #42-47
  • X-Factor #8-9