Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Brief Review of The Amazing Spider-Man #535

Gentle Reader, a few posts ago I said that I didn't read any comic with the word "Spider-Man" in the title except if it were followed by "Loves Mary Jane." Well, not to call myself a liar, but Mr. Reads threw The Amazing Spider-Man #535 in my General Direction, and I did, indeed, read it. And it was, in fact, quite good. But that's not why I read it. I read it because I am in the throes of Marvel's Civil War, and this issue of Spider-Man contained quite The Big Reveal.


***spoiler warning here; please do tread carefully***



I will not plague you with A Lengthy Review, Friends, particularly in that I am not well-versed in the Amazing Spider-Man World. In fact, I know little about the vastly different publications of Spider-Man, which seem as tricky and as varying as the many different lines of X-Men comics. I read Astonishing X-Men, I read Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and that is all for those worlds. But I feel somewhat obliged to talk about this issue, if only for the fact that Mr. Reads felt somewhat obliged to hand it to me.

Have I mentioned that Mr. Reads is to Spider-Man fandom what Ms. Reads is to Wonder Woman fandom? Rabid, frothy-mouthed goodness. But while I've never really cared about my friendly neighborhood Web Crawler, not really, I've got to hand it to Peter Parker. He recognizes Crazy when it comes.

Albeit several weeks too late, but hey, he recognized Crazy, so that counts for something, right?

Tony Stark and Reed Richards take Peter on a magic space ship/time continuum ride (I really can't tell you for certain, Gentle Reader!) to the Negative Zone, where every superhero and villain (but mostly heroes) who won't get with the registration program has been sent to live out his or her no longer valued human(ist/oid) existence. Peter wanders around, in shock, over the atrocity wrought before him. The whole time, I find myself asking, "Well, what did you expect from the Crazy, Peter?" but alas, my friendly neighborhood Spider-Man refused to answer.

Well, answer me, anyways. He tells Tony, in an effort to placate The Crazy, perhaps, that thank goodness it's temporary. To which Mr. Stark responds, "This isn't temporary, Peter. This isn't interim. This is permanent. Get with the program."

But Spidey *did* get with the program, Tony! He registered! He bowed down before your fascist act and is now having second thoughts because unlike you, he's a decent guy. I don't even read the comics, Gentle Reader, and even I know that Spider-Man is supposed to be A Decent Guy. So being that Decent Guy, Spidey says, "You can't just lock people away."

Mwuahaha, says Mr. Stark. "Yes, we can. And we have. And that's the end of it."

Yes, I know, Friends. This is a rather snarky and childish retelling of what I happily admit is a well-written comic book. I do not intend snark towards the writers, but rather, towards the horrifyingly awesome power of Tony Stark's mind. What frightens me the most about this very succinct final statement by Mr. Stark—-"Yes, we can. And we have. And that's the end of it."-—is the simplicity of it, the finality. At the beginning of Civil War, you knew Spidey would Do The Right Thing In The End. He's Spider-Man. That's what Spider-Man *does*. He fights for the underdog. Mr. Stark may have wooed him with big scientific compliments and promises of safety for the loved ones in Avengers Tower (Mr. Reads does talk, Gentle Reader, and I do listen), but in the end, Spidey will prevail, right?

Right?

Pardon the cliché, Dear Friends, but power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, that's not what we have here. Tony Stark is not a megalomaniacal Dr. Doom, lifting his fist and screaming to the heavens. No, it's actually much, much worse. Tony Stark is a guy doing his job; a guy who, in fact, keeps reiterating that all he's doing is his job.

And as history has shown us, over and over again, *those* are the ones you have to look out for, no?

8 Comments:

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Fanboy said...

I think I need to pick this up.

I was reading somewhere else that Reed used the analogy of an uncle who was ruined after testifying with HUAC in the 50s as a reason to justify his actions. That logic is so flawed it's laughable.

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
O, Fiddlesticks! I posted a response to this, and apparently, blogger ate it for tea.

Let's give it another go.

You said, I think I need to pick this up.

You really, really do! I don't really care for Spider-Man, as mentioned, and only do because Mr. Reads does. But this issue actually made me want to read the comic.

I was reading somewhere else that Reed used the analogy of an uncle who was ruined after testifying with HUAC in the 50s as a reason to justify his actions. That logic is so flawed it's laughable.

I'm going to say that my original, now lost response to this was Quite Smart, and was probably much smarter than this one will be. Suffice to say, I have been reading Civil War and its offshoots, and the entire time, have been thinking of big scary things in our history: camps (both Nazi and American), Sonderkommandos,
we have a reputation for hurting each other and forcing others to do it for us.
I find it very interesting that both Tony and Reed are trying to play off their involvement by passing the buck: Reed's just working in the system to "do the right thing," and Tony's "just doing his job."
*shudder*
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger Fanboy said...

And they were both just following orders. Or is it fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Makes you wonder ...

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
You said, And they were both just following orders. Or is it fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Makes you wonder ...

People who can justify evil, like Tony and Reed, frighten the bejeesus out of me. Unfortunately, those sorts of people keep getting into positions of power.
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger Fanboy said...

So I picked up this issue today and read it at lunch, albeit a week late.

I liked it ... but there are some factual errors. Reed keeps referring to the HUAC as a law. That was not true. It had supeona powers that could compel folks to testify. Many folks refused, invoking their 5th amendment right to not incriminate themselves. The committee then hit them with contempt and in many cases jailed folks. However, since I am not a lawyer, I am not sure if they were overstepping their bounds or if the 5th amendement protections were not fleshed out by then (I suspect it's the latter as the Warren court spent a lot of energy on individual rights - I am a wee bit of a constitutional law junkie).

Back to the issue. Reed should feel ashamed for his actions. By excusing the actions of others and then claiming that we need to wait to change unjust laws. So I guess slavery was okay with him, until the amendment or a state law was passed outlawing.

And as for Tony ... I hate to say this but I hope he is a casualty of war. If not, perhaps he can be dragged before the International Criminal Court and tried on charges of crimes against (super)humanity.

 
At 6:40 PM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
You said, Back to the issue. Reed should feel ashamed for his actions. By excusing the actions of others and then claiming that we need to wait to change unjust laws. So I guess slavery was okay with him, until the amendment or a state law was passed outlawing.

Reed's just pissing me off more and more. In fact, his little discussion of his uncle really Blew My Mind. It doesn't excuse *anything*, but he acts like it does.
Did not know that about HUAC, but anything after 1910 anywhere other than Britain is a wee bit fuzzy for me--dissertating, you realize. Thanks for the info!

And as for Tony ... I hate to say this but I hope he is a casualty of war. If not, perhaps he can be dragged before the International Criminal Court and tried on charges of crimes against (super)humanity.

Mr. Reads has a theory that Tony realizes his big mistakes already, but he's too far in to get out; therefore, he's trying to piss off Spidey in order to follow him out of registration. Again, what scares me the most about Tony is that he's so... I hate to say blase, but that's almost what it is. It's coming way too naturally for him.
Ciao,
Amy

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Fanboy said...

God I hope he's not using Spidey like Mr. Reads suggested, not that it would be a bad story, but because it's just one of those smarmy duplicitous things that people get away with all too often.

So this prompted me to pick up the new Fantastic Four #540 that came out today (another title I never pick up). Even the girl at the comic shop register warned me to read it after ASM and that it dovetails perfectly into Reed and the consequences of his decisions. It complements the ASM quite well, she was right. Check it out.

 
At 10:46 PM, Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
So this prompted me to pick up the new Fantastic Four #540 that came out today [...]. Check it out.

I have it on my list! Will let you know as soon as I read it.
Thanks!
Ciao,
Amy

 

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