This issue makes a tremendous play for the emotions. You've heard of the popular term "emotional roller coaster"? That implies some kind of play - an up and down movement of emotion. This isn't like that. This is more of a "bullet to the chest" type of emotional hit. One huge high impact blow. Brace yourself.
Let's begin slow by highlighting the art of Mike Deodato. This Peter Parker portrait is a fine example.
Peter doesn't look happy at all but check out the linework.
My one word to describe Deodato's art is: Exquisite. The good news is that the art is this good all throughout the issue.
Ok, it comes out that Gwen Stacy had become pregnant with twins and MJ knew about it all along but kept the secret from Peter.
According to MJ she kept the secret from Peter because she made a vow to Gwen - a sacred trust that she did not want to betray. I'm thinking of another vow she made. To Peter Parker. A marriage vow. How about the sacred trust inherent in that? According to the marriage vow you must tell your spouse everything. What? It's not in there? Nothing about telling secrets? You're right. But love is in there. Aha! "To have and to hold" blah blah blah. Love. Was it love to hold this secret back from Peter? Maybe. The thng about the marriage vow not saying anything specific about keeping secrets is that both spouses will need a small company of lawyers to argue the grey area till doomsday. Look, the real reason that MJ didn't tell Peter about Gwen being pregnant is because this is a frickin' retcon okay? That's the real reason.
But let's assume that this is not a retcon. That Straczynski is not attempting to embellish Spider-Man's rich past. Is MJ correct about not telling Peter? My two cents? No. First, Gwen is dead. Second, considering who Gwen was to Peter and vice versa he had to know. Third, MJ married Peter - a show of loyalty is called for. So I think MJ is simply wrong on this one.
And there we have the pain of secrets between husbands and wives. Let's up the ante shall we?
The father of Gwen's twin children is: Norman Osborn! Hello!
Pick yourself up off the floor.
How did this happen you ask? Was it artificial ensemination while Gwen Stacy was conked out?
Artificial ensemination? Does this qualify as artificial ensemination?
The whole uncensored bit was in the unpublished Amazing Spiderman #137.1 "My Date With The Green Goblin".
I'm joking around, but Straczynski seems to have paced this issue so that the emotional buildup in the reader would be - for want of a better word - delightful - in that heart attack sort of way.
If we are so emotional about this, you can imagine how Peter feels. You don't have to imagine. Take a look.
No broken plates here. This guy has Spider strength. He and MJ will have to replace some furniture.
In the end it is MJ who calms Pete down.
For more on MJ please pick up Amazing Spider-Man #512.1 "My Date With Doctor Doom".
After all this, Peter's gameplan is: (1) Find Gwen's twins and explain to them that it was Osborn not Spider-Man who killed Gwen Stacy and (2) help them with their degenerative condition.
What a sap you are Parker! Don't you see that Gwen betrayed you? If I was Peter Parker I would find the twins and, as per (1) above, find a way for them to realize that I did not kill their mother. And that's it. I would want nothing to do with Gwen and her ilk from here on end. I will purge her from my memory - a dishonorable purging. And that "Gwen Stacy Memorial Library" I just funded from the "Digger" storyline a while back? That gets renamed to "Ben Parker Memorial Library". But that's just me.
Amazing Spider-Man 520 Acts of Aggression
Welcome to this issue of The Avengers, I mean Amazing Spider-Man #520. I am absolutely NOT complaining that this reads like an issue of the Avengers. It's nice to have these team issues from time to time.
The issue opens with a Hydra General Assembly, Grand Council Meeting, oh I don't know what they call these things.
" ... tactical power to support strategic wins". Makes sense and quite impressive.
And now this comic begins to take a familiar direction that a fanboy like me loves: The introduction of new super-villains! Campy as hell and oh so enjoyable. Evidently theres four of them:
And, and . . .
Aw! They messed it up. How it's supposed to be done is each villain should be revealed in turn, with a panel for each showing them in their best pose and with their names in stylized lettering. To make it even better, a second panel for each should have captions detailing what power they have while they do a dramatic demo of said power. This "in the shadows" mystery treatment is lame!
Let's take a deep breath and head over to Stark Tower were it is 5 effing thirty in the morning and Jarvis is in a full dress suit with bow tie, in the kitchen, cooking breakfast for the Avengers. He then encounters May Parker.
The rendering of May's face with that expression is particularly well done. in fact, that's the best May Parker face I've ever seen - so real.
A detail about Wolverine's breakfast habits among the Avengers.
I take it that if you can impress Jarvis with your cooking you're an extremely good cook?
And now, at last, the mystery villains. First up: The Hammer
Excellent Iron Man assault.
Equally excellent counter-attack.
Pay attention to Iron Man's comment.
I've always thought lightning and electricy are the same but this is a wonderful distinction - gives Thor a lot of "street cred".
Usually, we're just shown people hitting the wall, so this is special.
Going through the wall. Very nice.
And now, for a change of pace, let's all meet Karl.
How about Captain America vs. Captain America?
And the last villain is the Bowman.
And with that Hydra gets a total fail for creativity.
All the villains manage to escape so I'm sure we'll see them again.
Amazing Spider-Man 528 The Other Part Twelve
These two panels from Deodato attempt to illustrate Morlun screaming and Pete remembering it.
Just think of yourself as an artist and being told to do these two panels. From that perspective, one realizes how beautifully implemented these two panels are. The first panel is done in just the right "hazy" style and the second panel, the look on Peter's face, you know he's thinking about what's on the first panel. I'm remembering some late thirties comics, not to put them down - they have their own magic - but the comic book has definitely evolved into a high art.
The rebirth of Spider-Man has created the "whacked out" concept of "two Peters". The whole thing is best explained by Tony Stark.
So Peter's Spider-Man costume has some damage and MJ, being his wife, has undertaken some repairs and this is the result.
I love this. I love how realistic this is. MJ is a supermodel, it is extremely unlikely that she can just go in and properly repair the costume. I'm remembering how we were all just so accepting of Peter being able to tailor his own costume - somehow it was so easy to just let that slide, but realistically, fifteen year olds can't do a competent Spider-Man costume. They can design it, but tailoring is not an easy thing to do.
Hence Mr. Leo Zelinsky.
Specialist tailor to both super-heroes and supervillains. Oh yes! This makes so much sense. And this makes even more sense.
Different days for "good guys" and "not-so-good guys"! I'm loving it!
I'm also loving this comment about MJs sewing skills.
Look at that, Spider-Man is just hanging around the tailor's shop reading while waiting for his repair. Before we leave the subject of costumes I think the best one is Moon Knight's. I wonder if Leo Zelinsky had a hand in it too?
Ok. Now let's go to some beautiful Deodato panels of Spider-Man! The shirt is still being repaired by Leo, so no shirt. First panel
Just beautiful; both of them. You can almost feel the New York night breeze.
Because of Peter's recent rebirth, he feels weird and different and not very comfortable in his own skin. It's not same old same old with Mr. Parker. For example, as he attempts a rescue mission in pitch black, he discovers he has night vision.
Needing to locate survivors Peter, perhaps for the firt time, does a classic spider move: Locating by translating vibrations going through his web.
Spider-Man behaving like a spider man. What's not to love?
Here's more: Discovering that his skin, not just his hands and feet, have adhesion. Allowing him to carry a kid on his back without tha aid of webs or arms.
And more: the hair follicles in his skin, so sensitive it can detect air movement.
In this case it functions like an "air-based" sonar. allowing Peter to locate openinngs where air is coming through.
Amazing. After hundreds of issues, writer Joe Straczynksi is able to inject novelty into something as basic as Spider-Man's power set. Amazing.
Back home, Peter makes it clear to MJ that the shirtless Spider-Man is a choice and DOES NOT have anything to do with her sewing.
Lying - the dirty little secret of marital bliss. Actually, its really the dirty little secret of generally having a peaceful life. I mean, I really do like working nine-to-five. You?
And the last panel here is from MJ.
If it works for Spider-Man it should work for General Motors too.