Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Mike Deodato (p), Joe Pimentel and Tom Palmer (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As Peter tries to piece together what Hydra is up to, his efforts to support MJís new career bring him into contact with a couple men who look to be tied to Hydra. However, Peterís quick exit from the party celebrating MJ's performance is noticed by a photographer who works for a tabloid, and the lie that MJ offers up to cover for her husband manages to generate a decidedly sordid story that the tabloids are all too happy to run with.
Comments: On one hand, I'm rather enjoying how this arc has seemlessly managed to link this title to the New Avengers, and I enjoy the little moments that play up the interaction between this book's cast and the various Avengers. How can one not enjoy the opening sequence where Captain America and Peter compare notes? And the closing scene where MJ meets with Wolverine was a fun scene. However, I have a couple of problems with this issue that kept me from enjoying it as much as I wanted to. The first is that while it's nice to see Hydra being presented as a bigger threat than they been for most of the past decade, the end goal of their latest plan is so dire that it's impossible to buy into the illusion that they are actually going to be able to pull it off. Now I realize that this argument could be made about most evil plans that comics offer up, but this issue spends so much time playing up the threat that I found myself being pulled out of the story. I will say though it was rather interesting to learn that six states share the same water table. I am a little curious why the final page cliff-hanger is supposed to be so dire, as while I'm glad to see MJ getting some attention, the simple fact of the matter is that this problem is easily explained. Peter and Aunt May would both know why she was making a late night visit to Tony Stark's place, and as such she should simply enjoy the brief surge of popularity that is sure to result from this story. It's not going to do any real damage to her relationship with Peter. If nothing else, the tabloid media is quick to move on to the next sensational story, and as such, while the attention might be annoying it'll also be rather short-lived. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this plot thread doesn't really look to have the legs that J. Michael Straczynski seems to be trying to suggest, but maybe he'll prove me wrong.
Mike Deodato is a solid artist when it comes to delivering the out of costume sections of the issue. There's a lovely montage sequence of MJ's performance, and this single page amazingly sells the idea that she's a natural born performer. I also rather enjoyed the following page where she allows herself one brief moment of delight over her performance as it was a great little character moment. The art also nicely captures the character's nervous state as she sneaks out to grab the paper. There is also some solid Spider-Man visuals in this issue as there's a lovely webslinging sequence as the character races through the night, and the scene where the gunman meets his rather unexpected end was well presented. I must complain about this issue's cover though, as while it's a nice looking image, it's also a highly generic one that I've become rather bored with.
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