Amazing Spider-Man #39
GANG WAR KICKS OFF HERE! Super-crime is running rampant, and Spider-Man can’t solve just one problem at a time. So Spidey builds a team to take down ALL the super-criminals of NYC in 48 hours. Good luck, Spidey.
Even at $5.99, with a grand total of 8 more pages than normal, The Amazing Spider-Man #39 reads like an unfinished first draft. Overly rushed and overworked, not even the legendary talents of John Romita Jr. and the historically stellar street-level writing of Zeb Wells provided enough to make this spontaneous cash-grab event worth checking out.
Picking up in the middle of unexplained developments, Spider-Man and his motley crew of heroes set out to stomp out the flames of the ongoing Gang War while The Beetle begins to wage war in the name of her father, Tombstone. All the while, Tombstone himself begins to recover, drawing a line in the sand of battle that may forever alter his role in New York, risking his entire life’s work.
This issue marks the return of John Romita Jr. to the book since issue #31, and even with all the extra time granted to get a head start on this series, it still looks very slapped together. Romita’s mastery of motion never wavers from his pen, but the consistency of it definitely fled during the making of this issue. While his style certainly serves the flippant tone of this book more than the artwork seen in First Strike, what you’re getting here is art that gets the job done rather than art that’s uniquely a part of the work itself as a major factor in storytelling. There are some particularly dazzling pin-ups in this issue, such as when Spidey and the team first spring into action or when Peter and She-Hulk take on an army of warring monsters on their own, but Romita struggles to sell the character moments necessary to give this book any sense of meaning.
However, the art isn’t the biggest problem here. As I mentioned, it gets things done without being overtly distracting in its lackluster execution. Instead, the book’s writing continues to hip-check the idea of consistency, clarity, and proper storyline growth to get to the exciting bits without the setup to make them exciting. The issue opens with Spidey’s team assembled, jumping the shark completely from where we last left off in First Strike. There wasn’t any time spent detailing Peter assembling this team, except for a small bit during the end of the event’s Spider-Woman tie-in. The team’s assembly barely mattered in the end anyway, as everyone setup with a blatant promise that they’d all assemble again to finish off the event without having formed any bonds with one another. It’s a team assembled for how they look, but never given any credence to be written as a bonafide group of people uniting over a common goal.
Tombstone, Janice, and the Robertsons continue to be used as the book’s driving heart in terms of character-driven theming, but their lack of importance throughout the run-up until this point has left the emotional beats here falling flat. Seeing as the effectiveness of their role in the story is decided entirely on whether or not you have a reading history with Spider-Man comics from decades ago, the story then relies on much more tell than show in order for readers to understand why this is important, without proving why it was important.
The Amazing Spider-Man #39 falls further into feeling like a cheap grab for cash, it's story riddled with so many odd holes and lackluster moments of character writing that it's a shame something this unfinished is being billed as a top event for Marvel.
The Amazing Spider-Man #39: Fire All Around
- Writing - 4/104/10
- Storyline - 4/104/10
- Art - 5/105/10
- Color - 5/105/10
- Cover Art - 4/104/10
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