The Amazing Spider-Man #640

by Chad Nevett, Reviewer |

Wed, August 18th, 2010 at 8:32PM (PDT)


Let’s run down the checklist of story points created in “One More Day” that “One Moment in Time” has needed to solve. Peter and Mary Jane no longer married? Check. Peter and Mary Jane remaining a couple and, basically, living out their married life despite not being married? Check. Aunt May’s life saved? Check. Spider-Man’s identity no longer known by the world? Not yet. No, that’s what “Amazing Spider-Man” #640 focuses on to lead into next issue’s conclusion where Joe Quesada and Paolo Rivera will no doubt check off this plot point.

This issue is a solid bridging issue as it follows up on the events that led Peter and Mary to sell their marriage to Mephisto with the Kingpin not satisfied with what pain he’s brought to Peter so far. With Aunt May out of the woods, Kingpin orders that others close to the Parkers are targeted for death, starting with Mary Jane’s aunt Anna. There’s a symmetry of Anna being the next target that’s appealing, especially when you wonder how far Mary Jane and Peter would go to save her life, but, thankfully, that option isn’t explored. Instead, Quesada brings back the criminal instrumental in derailing Peter and Mary Jane’s wedding, and provides a compelling reason for why Peter would want his identity to become hidden once again.

While this entire story is mechanical in its explanations of how history has been changed, this issue feels more mechanical than previous ones. Quesada begins with a plot that has a good emotional core, but draws it out so far that it isn’t sustained for the entire issue. It’s obvious what the point of the issue is early on and watching it play out is tedious at times. It’s understandable that Quesada doesn’t want to rush something like Mary Jane saving her aunt and then being pursued by the Kingpin’s hitman, but it goes on a little too long and loses some of its essential drama.

Still, one’s loved ones never getting threatened is motive enough for Peter to want to regain his secret identity and that idea is sold well in this issue. It does raise the question of why bother outing Peter in the first place when these consequences were painfully obvious. So much so that this issue can’t help but feel like it’s something seen before.

But, what makes it easier to take in is Paolo Rivera’s stunning, gorgeous art. His crystal clear storytelling so strong in this issue, providing much of the drama and tension of the drawn out plot. I don’t know if it was in the script, but the visual tease of Mephisto on page three is pulled off with a great deal of skill as the nurse comes slowly into focus. While she doesn’t appear to be the demon, it’s a good visual fake out. Or, there’s the use of the luchador mask for the Kingpin’s hitman that gives him a slightly absurd and comedic look, which only heightens his threat. The juxtaposition of the funny and terrifying on a visual level makes the character stand out more.

When the hitman chases after Mary Jane, Rivera switches the angles a lot, creating a visually compelling chase scene. It has a cinematic quality to it in how it draws you in and drives forward through the visuals. He builds his pages around a central piece of action in many cases with the other panels working to make that panel pay off. It’s fantastic work.

It’s still not entirely clear why this story is necessary, but Quesada and Rivera are certainly making it an interesting read. This issue sags more than the previous two, because the idea of a loved one of Spider-Man being targeted once he reveals his identity has been so built up and discussed that actually seeing it happen is tedious. And, there’s an element of this story that simply feels like Quesada is checking off the boxes of plot points instigated by “One More Day.” The identity becomes secret again, and Mary Jane and Peter break up? Check back next issue.

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