Rave : 2002 : Amazing Spider-Man #38

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Date: Mar 1, 2002
Next: Hype
Prev: Spider-Man Strip!

One of the biggest things that JMS has done recently is to actually use the character of Aunt May in a meaningful way. And part of this has centred around her discovery of Peter's secret identity as Spider-Man which came to a head in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #38. Well, for many of us Spidey fans this was a make or break issue for JMS. We were jaded and sorely hurt when Aunt May was brought back from the dead by the infamous creators of the time, so would JMS further disparage this sacred ground or actually make something good out of what many view as a mistake? Well the following are some of our thoughts and reactions to the whole thing.

I, for one, loved "The Conversation". For about half the issue, I thought it deserving of five webs (and I reserve "five webs" only for the issues I regard as "perfect". Which means... almost none.) Unfortunately, I thought it fizzled a bit in the last half, reducing it to four or four and a half web status.

And then there's this...

In the scene where Aunt May expresses her guilt over Ben's death, she talks about how they had an argument and how she wanted to go out to the porch to smooth things over but she didn't and Ben went for a walk and she never saw him again. Now, am I just reading this wrong or is JMS implying that Ben's death took place AWAY from the house? If so... where does this come from? In AF #15, in Ultimate, in (for God's sake) Chapter One, Ben is killed at the house. How would May's preventing Ben from taking that walk have changed anything? Or is she just sad that she never kissed and made up with him before his death? Did JMS screw up here or am I just severely out of it?

That took me a second also.. I then realized that May was referring to Ben surprising the burglar when he came back from his walk late at night. It suggests to me that May's thinking was if they did not have that fight, he would have went upstairs to bed and they both would have slept through the burglary, Ben waking unharmed.

That's the way I saw it, although it took me awhile to figure out where JMS was coming from with that. To be honest, I wasn't crazy about that part of the issue, although I loved the rest of it. ASM #400 can finally rest in peace again; Aunt May may be back, but she's a real, actual character again.

There was only one thing I wanted Peter to say in this issue: "all those years you talked about that 'horrible Spider-Man' like he was some kind of monster. How could I be certain that you wouldn't hate me if you found out?" Something like that. Peter did lie to his Aunt and maybe he shouldn't have, but May wasn't helping matters here much.

BTW, somebody mentioned Essential Spider-Man (#5 is coming out soon, right?) A quick read through any of those volumes serves to remind us why Peter wasn't that eager to spill the beans to his aunt. The poor old dame was fainting at the drop of a hat back in the Stan Lee years!

Overall, one of my favorite issues in years. How do you all think it compares to The Gift (#400)? I love J.M DeMatteis' stuff--hmmm, maybe the secret to good Spidey books is to hire someone with the initials "J.M." to write them?--but this one seemed a bit more real to me. While May's first reaction--excuse me, the actress-that-Norman-Osborn-hired-to-replace-May's first reaction (uck)--seemed plausible at the time, in retrospect it's a little hard to believe that she would take the whole thing so well. May's reaction this time around seems a bit more plausible. But maybe that's just me.

In any event, who cares? This was another great issue and Spider-Man is getting better all the time!

By your standard then you also like Howard J. Mackie!!! (H...J.M.)

--I actually have no idea of what his middle name is. I defintely agree with the last two takes. Caught the Burglar on the return home, which I think may be a slight ret-con, since he wasn't supposed to have been sleeping and walked downstairs after hearing him, but I think we can live with that one.

Yep. Great story. Now if someone could just make Jonah not a two-dimensional character anymore.

So, as you can see we thought JMS did a pretty good job on very delicate issue for us die-hard Spidey fans. JMS we salute you!