Here we have an out of continuity tale, therefore not affecting the main Marvel Universe in any way. A “What If?” tale concerning Back in Black, an arc which was in fact to cash in on Spider-Man 3 by bringing back the black costume. Written by Steven Grant (best known for the his Punisher mini-series in the 80s) and drawn by Gus Vazquez (best known for digital comics), I wondered who the target audience was for this book.

Then I realised I bought it and my question was answered…

What if Mary-Jane had been shot instead of Aunt May?
WRITER: Steven Grant
ARTIST: Gus Vazquez
COLOURS: Frank Martin
LETTERS: Cory Petit

We cut back to the scene in Back In Black, where the Parker family is in the sniper’s crosshair. Peter saves Aunt May, but Mary-Jane is shot instead (the spoiler was in the title). Peter immediately runs to the assassin and finds out the Kingpin hired him. He then kills the assassin…um what?

Peter goes after the Kingpin, who now has Iron Man as his bodyguard as he is being threatened by a superhuman. Spider-Man arrives at Ryker’s to see Kingpin’s protection by S.H.I.E.L.D. and starts to fight Iron Man. They argue about responsibility before Iron Man throws Spidey into a building a blows it to hell. Kingpin goes with his police escort, but Spidey isn’t defeated yet and goes another round with Iron Man, but defeats him by removing Stark’s armour…um what?

Spidey chases Kingpin to Newark Airport to find Aunt May as a hostage to corrupt policemen and Kingpin. Aunt May is saved and Spider-Man then kills Kingpin…um what?

Aunt May is disgusted at what Peter has done and refuses to go near him. Iron Man turns up (again) and Peter surrenders, blaming Stark for Mary-Jane’s death and saying he never would have married her if he knew this would happen.

-The art was very good, especially how things stood out from the background.
-Peter’s last line in the book

-Every line of Peter’s apart form the last one.
-Peter’s knowledge of schematics allowing him to remove Iron Man’s armour
-Peter’s killing streak

There is one main flaw with this book…if Mary-Jane died instead of Aunt May, I personally don’t think much would change. Peter loves his aunt and his wife immensely, but when Aunt May was shot, he didn’t kill anyone. I don’t think that it would be much different if someone else close to him was killed. He would still go after the Kingpin, but that’s what happened in Back In Black. So, this story was doomed from the start with a poor idea.

What didn’t help was the writing of the book. Firstly, Spider-Man does not kill. Peter Parker does not kill. When Gwen Stacy was hurled off a bridge, he didn’t kill. He just was not brought up that way. So in a story where he not only kills, but then does it again without thought is just bad. If Spider-Man killed someone, he probably wouldn’t stop killing people, so that is why he doesn’t start. I apologise for being repetitive, but that is just the way it goes.

The dialogue was pure exposition and just plain bad. More on that point later.

OK, it doesn’t mater how much you know about schematics, you cannot remove the Iron Man armour (infused with Extremis) just by touching the centre plate. Can’t be done. Just to let future writers know.

On a more positive side, the art was actually very solid. Slightly cartoon-ish but did well. It has a good style I’d like to see again in another comic, (hopefully a good one next time)

Everybody’s favourite feature is back.

KINGPIN: How hard did your wife die?


0.5 webheads out of 5

Take your $2.99 and buy shares in toothpaste. That’s a better investment than this comic will ever be.


23 Responses to “What If? Back In Black Review”

  1. #1 CrazyChris says:

    I’m not touching this thing. I agree that I don’t see why it would make a difference who was shot. Does Peter love MJ more than May? Does shooting a fit, healthy woman in her twenties make him more mad than the same crime against an helpless eighty-year-old?

  2. #2 Macgargan says:

    Well, I bought it, and have to disagree with the above review, ( sorry! )

    Yeah, Spidey kills Kingpin, but HOW he does it is fantastic! Punching thru his chest to web the goon standing behind him to prevent him shooting Aunt May? Hardcore!

    As for him killing the sniper, heat of the moment, probably would have killed Gobby in #122 if it wasn’t for that damn pipe!

    Thing is, Pete knew that Aunt May was dead whether he let Fisk beat on him or not, and did what was necessary to save her.

  3. #3 Combustible Pumpkins says:

    Thanks for the review. No way am I buying this crap. Spidey doesn’t kill. mknopp totally nailed it: Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:12 pm

    “These controversies give a reason for Joe Quesada to go on mainstream media and talk up Marvel, to let people know about their product, and then to catch the movies or buy the toys when they come out.

    Think about it. Spider-Man unmasking was featured on the front page of Google news. The death of Captain America had a segment on my local news. The dissolution of the Spider marriage had a story in USA Today. Perhaps they really don’t care what the comic reader thinks anymore. If they love it they get sales, if they hate it they get a continuous dialogue which gives them free mind share, if it is majorly controversial then they get free mass market airtime to talk about their product.”

  4. #4 CrazyChris says:

    That punching through Kingpin’s chest move sounds hilarious. Totally out of character, but awesome.

  5. #5 Enigma_2099 says:

    … the hell was this, ANOTHE blatant attempt to prove that One More Day wasn’t as bad as things could have been?!??! They pulled the same crap with What If: Fallen Son, too… and What if: The Other…

    So, Aunt May gets shot, he makes a deal with the devil to save her… if Mary Jane gets shot, he turns into a killer…

    Man… the money I’m saving by dropping these books…

  6. #6 persian-spider says:

    terrible terrible comic
    i read it yersterday and i dont remember anything about it but my hatred!

  7. #7 persian-spider says:

    even the art was terrible

  8. #8 Macgargan says:

    Well, just re-read it and still enjoyed it. CrazyChris, the punching thru the chest sounds funny when taken out of context, but the actual scene ( which I guess I can talk about without fear of spoilers as everyone so far has either read it or said that they’re not going to ) makes a lot of sense. Fisk has one of his thugs holding May at gunpoint, and tells Pete he has to stand there whilst he beats on him, if he tries to defend himself, May’s a goner, and Fisk s blocking Spidey from the gun man.
    Elegant solution I thought, for Pete to go , literally , through Kingpin to protect his Aunt.
    Punching through Fisks’ chest and then firing a web whilst doing so, which jams the goons gun is sheer bad ass!

    Also the scenes of Pete kicking Tony’s ass totally made this book a worthwhile purchase! The smackdown we never got to see in the 616…

  9. #9 Enigma_2099 says:

    yeah… it makes a lot of sense… if Spidey has no problems with taking a life… which if he is written properly… HE DOES!!!!!

    This is not the Punisher… I don’t care how cool his “Kano” attack was to you…

  10. #10 CrazyChris says:

    It’s just inconcievable to me that there was no other way for Spidey to handle that situation. I’m not morally outraged or anything like that, I just think it sounds a little silly. I’m sure it looked cool.

  11. #11 Macgargan says:

    I think it was a combination of heat of the moment, and the fact that Fisk admitted that death was his only option, Pete knew, even if he let Fisk kill him, he’d still kill May, and merely defeating him wouldn’t make the threat go away.
    After what happened to MJ, Pete was taking no chances IMO.

  12. #12 Edmund Lau says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m staying away from this one… 🙂

    ~ Edmund

  13. #13 Spider-Dad says:

    Another reason why I have stayed away from “What-Ifs” for over 20 years. Marvel could simply have a different writer\artist give you a different version of the same premise repeatedly. In my version of “What-If MJ dies”, he kills the writing team in a fit of revenge for another stupid storyline. Now, that I might pay for…

  14. #14 corsec87 says:

    I really liked this book. Personally, the way Back in Black was originally marketed, this was closer to how I thought it’d turn out. I figured Peter would end up killing the Kingpin, and was disappointed when the whole storyline was pointless. I really liked fugitive peter, and wish they’d have built on his desperation. Plus, it’s a What if? it’s supposed to be an over-the-top story where everything and everyone goes to hell. That’s just my take on it though.

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