Comic Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man #542 – “Back in Black” pt. 4 of 5

Spidey is back in the black suit and his attitude and actions reflect his color. Following his public outing and break from Iron Man as part of the Civil War storyline, he is on the run with his family.

Unfortunately, everything has gone from bad to worse for Peter Parker. The Kingpin has taken out a hit on Parker, Mary Jane, and Aunt May. Missing Parker, the assassin’s bullet struck Aunt May – who is now in a fight for her life. These events have pushed Peter even further off the ledge.

Issue 542 finds Spider-Man in a showdown with the Kingpin in prison. He has tracked who hired the hitman, and vowed to kill the man responsible. Can Spider-Man really kill the Kingpin? Would he really do it? This question is the crux of the issue, and its answer further demonstrates how far Spider-man has fallen from his early days in the classic red and blue outfit.

While dealing with the somewhat heavy and emotional issues, writer J. Michael Straczynski throws in plenty of action. Spidey and Kingpin square-off in a battle of words which naturally leads to a battle of fist. The comic’s ending will leave you wondering just how far Spider-Man and his writers are willing to let the character drift from his carefree days of wisecracks and costumed villains. Some may not like the new direction of the character, but I loved every minute of it.

Straczynski knows how to work the character and push all the right buttons. He keeps the story engaging – with a nice twist towards the ending. Ron Garney’s pencils and Bill Reinhold’s inks reflect the storyline with dark shadings and a black suited Spider-Man that seems more villain than hero (fitting since he is on the run from he law following the Civil War fallout).

If you aren’t a reader of Spider-Man, now is the time to start and the “Back in Black” issues are the ones to pick up. The last page leaves you with the perfect tease for the final part of the story arc.

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