Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #592

Background

In order to avoid the fall-out from the end of the Character Assassination arc, Spider-Man hitched a ride to the macroverse with the Fantastic Four. However, due to a quirk in the space time continuum, two months passed before Spidey returned to Earth. During that time a number of important things have happened to the supporting cast, but nothing more alarming than JJJ being elected the new mayor of New York! This really can't be good for the webslinger, can it?

Story Details

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #592
Arc: Part 1 of '24/7' (1-2-3)
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Mike McKone
Inker: Andy Lanning

Peter Parker is alone in his apartment consulting holiday brochures. Australia, Trinidad, Latveria... anywhere seems better than New York city at the moment. Pete has called Reed Richards twice to make sure he and the FF didn't accidentally return to a parallel Earth, but alas this is not to be.

While pacing, Peter muses over another mystery: who has been cleaning the apartment in the two months he has been away? He's already seen Aunt May and it wasn't her. Vin is still in jail for another four months. Who is the phantom tidier? Pete puts that mystery on hold to swing across the city and have things out with the new mayor. A shame he didn't hang around a little longer. Just after he leaves, a mystery brunette housesitter turns up and makes herself comfortable.

Meanwhile, at City Hall, Jonah finds himself on the other side of the news as he barges his way through the phalanx of press reporters. He is cornered by Betty Brant who asks if Spider-Man's two month absence from the city has anything to do with Jonah's recent rise to power. Of course, JJJ takes complete credit for it. He then barges his way into his office and slams the door.

J. Jonah Jameson senior is waiting for him. The two leap into an immediate argument: first about JJ Snr abandoning the family when Jonah was a boy, and then about Jonah's pointless crusade against Spider. A man that his father refers to as a "man of character". Naturally, this is all overheard by Spidey himself who is hanging outside the window eating a mid-morning snack.

Our friend JJJ is not at all pleased to learn that Spidey and his father are on very good terms after the recent subway collapse. After JJ senior leaves, Spidey reveals why he has come. He wants to let bygones be bygones. He respects the office of mayor and doesn't want to be continually going at it with JJJ until they are both old and grey. He wants a truce.

JJJ doesn't quite see things the same way. He summons his "Anti-Spider Squad" post-haste, and a team of heavily armed cops burst into the office machine guns blazing. As Spidey leaps to safety, JJJ says that they will hunt Spidey around the clock. They'll never rest until Spidey is brought down!

Spidey is at a loss. What's he going to do now? He decides that if he can't take the high road, then he'll take the low road. If he can't make peace with Jonah, he'll drive him nuts. Rather than going to ground, he's going to make sure that Spider-Man is in Jonah's face 24/7. After all, a few more days before catching up with his friends can't hurt, can it? Soon Spidey is everywhere, and the Internet is breaking in half under the headlines.

The headlines culminate in Spider-Man rescuing a stray kitten. Jonah's assistant reads all the news to JJJ who becomes more and more depressed. What more can the wallcrawler do to taunt him? Well, he can hand deliver that kitten he rescued for a start. Jonah has had better days.

Cut to the docks and four thieves making their getaway after stealing half a million in heroine from the mob. However, one of their number has been wounded. Rather than help their companion, the other thieves turn back and tie the poor blighter to a near-by railing. So much for 'honour among thieves'. Why have they done this? Well apparently there is something out there hunting criminals. They can't afford to be caught, so they are going to leave their wounded behind as an offering. A morsel.

No sooner have the thieves leapt into a boat and vacated the scene, as a winged shape appears in the sky. It looks like the Vulture, only it is red not green. The shape swoops to the ground and begins to consume the restrained thief.

Dawn in the city. Spidey swings by and rescues a boy from being hit by a truck. Although thankful, both the boy and the mother point out that Spidey reeks. It's true! Spidey has been swinging around in his costume non-stop for the last three days. As it's nearer, Spidey heads to Aunt May's place for a quick shower, and a chance to have a nap while he's running his Spider-duds through the washing machine.

He's just undressing when he here's some suspicious knocking and bumping coming from Aunt May's room. Peter hurries over and flings open the door to discover Aunt May in bed with JJ Senior. This is not a sight for tired eyes.

General Comments

Spidey returns to New York and it's wall to wall action against his oldest and angriest nemesis. When I first read this issue I have to confess that I was disappointed. After two issues of dancing around in another reality, I had hoped the next arc would concentrate more on Spidey's supporting cast and begin to deal with some of things that Slott had set up in his two-parter. A second reading has put some of those gripes to rest.

My initial thoughts are still a valid criticism. The 24/7 arc feels like filler; something to carry the comic until the more significant American Son, that will propel the Spider-Man saga forward. Three days pass during this arc, and I find it hard to believe that Spidey wouldn't pause in his anti-Jonah crusade long enough to catch up with his life. Did he even check his phone messages?

However, Waid's story moves at such a brisk pace that it's very easy to get swept away with the narrative. The comic is certainly entertaining. Devoid of all the Civil War related baggage, Spidey and Jonah are able to spar as well as they ever have. Sparks fly; and the scene with the cat was particularly inspired.

We don't really see enough of this new Vulture to make a call at the moment. I have to say that I'm a bit cautious about introducing another new character in the Vulture costume. These changes are normally short lived, and we've been down this road with the Vulture before. Alternatively if it is Toomes and he's now feeding on people.... well, we've been down that road before as well in the old Lifetheft arc. No-one wants to relive that if they can avoid it.

So Spidey wears a t-shirt, boxers and socks under his costume? Really? If Mike McKone wants us to believe that, then he better start drawing Spidey with a VPL. However, the rest of the art presents no problems. It may not be the most dynamic or stylish work I've seen from Mr McKone but it tells the story more than adequately. No complaints from me on that score.

Which brings us to the finale. As sub-plots go, the return of Jonah's father bothers me. On the one hand we have an opening for a good story, as I'm sure his motivations for returning after all this time are not as they appear. On the other hand, I can't get over my incredulity that the man is walking around at all. How old is he supposed to be? Jonah must be in his 60s, so how old does that make his father? I know I risk being flamed by all the active, bungee-jumping octogenarians out there, but I find it unbelievable that Jonah's father would be up to anything other than drinking milky tea and watching the cricket. Dancing the hoizontal lambada with Aunt May should be right out.

So who's the mystery housesitter? Sara Ehret? Jill Stacey? Felicia Hardy in a wig? I guess we'll have to wait and see! I think we can bet good money that whatever's going on won't work out in Peter's favour.

Overall Rating

Not quite the story I was expecting, but entertaining nonetheless. The scene of Spidey munching away on a carton of "OsCorn" was almost worth the price of book on its own. Three webs.

Footnote

Spidey's pontification on his status as a fugitive got me thinking. Whatever happened to all the Cape Killers that were hunting down unregistered heroes after Civil War? When did they go away? Did I miss something? And if I did can someone point out what it was? Surely Spidey is already a fugitive being hunted for not signing the Superhuman Registration act. Isn't he? And how does that square with Character Assassination? Shouldn't Spidey have been unmasked because of that? Is there a wider plot point here that I'm missing? Answers on a postcard...