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Amazing Spiderman #579

Posted: Friday, December 5, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Mark Waid
Marcos Martin, Javier Rodriguez (c)
Marvel Comics
“Unscheduled Stop” (part 2)

Plot: Spidey’s stuck in a collapsed subway tunnel with twelve innocent jurors thanks to the Shocker. Water ensues.

Comments: Waid and Martin’s second Amazing Spider-Man outing completes this strangely offbeat story arc. Unlike the previous ASM storylines, the story and the art carry a very subdued tone rather than the hyperbolic hijinks of creative teams Dan Slott and Steve McNiven, Bob Gale and Mike McKone, Marc Guggenheim and Phil Jimenez, and Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo. This isn’t necessarily a qualitative improvement, but simply different color to the series itself.

In this issue, Waid adds a new character that develops Spidey’s consistent arch nemesis, J. Jonah Jameson, Junior -- JJJ, Senior! Deep beneath surface of Manhattan, locked in a crumbling subway tunnel quickly filling with water is the father of Peter’s former employer. Only in comics, folks! But Waid gives this soon-to-be important periphery figure a natural introduction. In order to keep his mind off the Herculean feat of lifting his fellow trapped straphangers via a makeshift pulley from the rising water, Spider-Man asks JJJ, Sr. to talk to him about his son. “Jonah’s stepfather was the cigar smoker,” the old man explains. “That’s who raised Jonah after I... had to leave. His stepfather. A military man. My--” Oh, I won’t spoil it for you. Yet, Waid’s Shakespearean twist gives this issue a very somber atmosphere that will surely develop JJJ into a more three dimensional character.

Adding to this somberness is Martin’s pacing and inking. While capturing Steve Ditko’s design (primarily faces), attention to detail, and motifs (such as tight shots on eyes), Martin composes a panel and paces his pages very differently from Spider-Man's artistic primordial ooze. Martin’s modern pacing is more cinematic and less claustrophobic. There are large panels that reveal photo-realistic cityscapes inundated with downpour and even the layouts intended to give a sense of being trapped aren’t as tight as Ditko’s pages. They create a sense of intimacy rather than fear. Therefore, Martin’s art recalls the classic pages of ASM while telling the story at a less compressed and more dramatic pace.

As for the inking, while Ditko spent a great deal of attention capturing the natural folds and cringles of a figure’s clothes, Martin does not. Instead, he puts that same attention to the folds and cringles of his character’s skin. JJJ Sr.’s face, for example, is furrowed with obvious stress of a long, troubled life. Compared to the smoothness of Spidey’s face and stature, the frailty of this old man resounds throughout the book.

Final Word: Another great ASM arc with an excellent creative team.

Shameless Plug: Stevenmbari.Wordpress.com



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