The final issue in the first story arc of Amazing Spider-Man headlined by Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. is here, but will Spidey save face, or will Tombstone come out victorious? The first story arc has set up some big mysteries while delivering a rather brutal story about Tombstone’s violence. Now it’s time for Spider-Man to show his style of revenge. Plus, this is the penultimate issue before Amazing Spider-Man #900!
There are a couple of things this issue gets right, starting with Spider-Man being his own worst enemy. Bruised and beaten, Wells and Romita Jr. open this issue with Spider-Man in a kind of rage. Given the events of Amazing Spider-Man #4, he’s deservedly pissed. He wants to make Tombstone pay for tricking him into taking down The Rose. Later in the issue, however, a friend reminds Spider-Man that he’s at his best when he’s having a bit of fun. It’s a well-timed moment that suits the legacy of the character.
Something else that works is how the book depicts B-Lister goon Digger. He comes off as a regular dude, especially in the opening when he’s trying to enjoy an ice cream cone. He might look like a lizard, but he’s a regular guy trying to make do. The characterization, and how he’s used in Spider-Man’s plan, help ground the character.
Wells also does a good job establishing the hole in Tombstone’s plan. He first sets it up with Tombstone in a meeting, then later seals the deal. It makes the tactic Spider-Man takes feel earned.
Art by Romita Jr. is very in-your-face, particularly because Spider-Man’s head is so lumpy with the damage he took. There’s attention to detail taken by Romita, inker Scott Hanna, and color artist Marcio Menyz that sells the aspect, especially when his mask is on. I’m still not so sure about the blood splatter on the mask — it doesn’t look right for it to pool on the surface of the mask — but that’s only in the first scene.
Ultimately what Romita Jr. brings to this series is a pace that feels certain albeit slower. The layout structure is blocky and rarely does more than go off-center to help draw your eye so you read the panels in the right order. It’s a classic style at this point, and thanks to nostalgia and history the book feels certain in its importance because of the visuals.
Amazing Spider-Man #5 wraps up the first story arc with a story about Peter Parker’s smarts. It’s also a reminder that Spider-Man gets in his own way, but when he’s having a little fun things go better for him and the reader.
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