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Amazing Spider-Man #502

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: John Romita Jr (p), Scott Hanna (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
As an elderly tailor who specializes in the repair of costumes belonging to the super-powered crowd overhears one of his client planning a hit, we see he's unsure whether it's his responsibility to try and stop this murder before it happens. To this end we see the tailor makes contact with Spider-Man and he lets the friendly neighborhood crime-fighter know about this planned assassination. Needless to say Spider-Man is able to stop the villain.

Comments:
J. Michael Straczynski evokes an "Astro City" type mood as we take a look in on a tailor who specializes in the costumes of the super powered crowd, and his interaction with Spider-Man. Now there are some cute touches that I found rather clever such as his servicing super-hero and super-villains on alternating days so he doesn't have any property destroying encounters within the confines of his store. I also found Spider-Man's explanation for how he can sit in a diner in full costume without having anyone in the place give him a second look rather cute. There's also a couple fun gags involving the tailor's interaction with the various heroes and villains that he encounters, with my personal favorite being the Blob and his talk of a new costume. On the other hand the plot is a bit thin and the moral dilemma that the tailor runs up against is far easier to resolve than he makes it out to be. In fact the rather annoying part of the issue is that the villain Spider-Man runs up against is such a generic baddie that I found myself having to make an active effort to believe the character was a legitimate threat. It would also appear that J. Michael Straczynski had difficulty doing so as well as the second round between the two lasts a grand total of one panel. In the end it's an interesting look at a character who operates behind the scenes, but with a wafer thin plot and a villain that never really comes across as all that dangerous I found this issue to be a bit of a disappointment.

As for the art, John Romita Jr. remains my favorite artist on the Spider-Man books as he's a remarkably consistent artist, as I can't remember the last time this book was graced with a guest-artist. He's also one of the best artists when it comes to in your face action, as when Spider-Man smashes his way into the tailor's shop and slams into the villain, one has little doubt the villain felt that blow. I do have to say that the new costume design that he's come up with for Spider-Man doesn't leave me all that enthused though, as frankly it looks like a costume design that was created back in the mid 1980s when big collars and jackets the button to one side were in high demand. In any event this is a pretty solid issue, and the quieter moments are also nicely handled as I loved Peter's decidedly excited expression when he realizes that Mary Jane isn't going to stop him from chasing after the bad guys.

Final Word:
A promising idea that J. Michael Straczynski never fully realizes, as while the idea of a tailor the specializes in costume repair is a fun look behind the curtain, the simple fact of the matter is that it's not an idea that can carry an issue, and J. Michael Straczynski doesn't help matters much by padding the issue with a rather generic plot. Add to the mix a generic villain who pose zero danger to Spider-Man, and only momentarily is allowed to come across as dangerous when he's threatening the tailor, and you have an issue that is a bit of a chore to work up much interest in. Still, J. Michael Straczynski does turn in a couple gags that made me smile, with his explanation for how he can get away with sitting in a diner in his Spider-Man costume being particularly clever. On the other hand there also a couple gags that feel a bit too desperate, as the comments made by the people on the street when the web-coated villain is tossed in front of them being the most notable example of a gag that deserved a rim-shot.



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