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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #640

“One Moment in Time, Chapter Three: Something Borrowed”

Writer: Joe Quesada

Penciler: Paolo Rivera and Joe Quesada

Inker: Paolo Rivera and Danny Miki

Colorist: Paolo Rivera and Richard Isanove

“Spidey Sundays”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciler: Marcos Martin

Inker: Marcos Martin

Colorist: Muntsa Vicente

Cover Art: Paolo Rivera

Variant Cover #1: Joe Quesada, Danny Miki, and Richard Isanove

Variant Cover #2: Jelena Djurdjevic

Variant Cover #THERE ARE TOO MANY DAMN VARIANTS: Joe Quesada

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

Continuing the sequel to the worst Spider-Man story of all time, we’ve hit part three (of four) of “One Moment in Time.”  After a craptacular start and an above-average second entry, can they keep the quality upticks coming?

The Plot

After a brief frame page with Peter and Mary Jane in the present, we cut right to the aftermath of last issue’s finale.  The doctor explains to Peter that Aunt May was saved by the power of love (???) – that the love and hope of Peter and Mary Jane is what brought her back.  Overhearing the conversation, a crooked nurse informs the still-jailed Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, that May is recovering.  After a terse conversation, Fisk calls a hitman to proceed knocking people off based on a list.  At the hospital, Mary Jane receives a call from her Aunt Anna, who is scared about sounds she’s hearing behind the house.  Mary Jane comes over and finds Aunt Anna about to be killed by the hitman, so she saves Anna by smashing a pot over the guy’s head.  However, this just pisses the dude off, and he proceeds to chase Mary Jane to try to kill her, since she’s on the list.  Back at the hospital, Peter gets a call from Anna and learns from a nurse that Mary Jane went to Forest Hills.  After telling Tom Brevoort to watch May’s room (I’m not joking), Peter changes into Spider-Man and races off to save her.  Meanwhile, after a struggle, MJ is about to be killed by the hitman and is saved in the nick of time by Spidey.  Unmasking the goon, Spidey discovers that he is, in fact, Eddie Muerte, the thug that caused him to miss his wedding.  Realizing that these attacks will never stop so long as his identity is publicly known, Peter turns to Doctor Strange for help – asking for Strange to mindwipe the world into forgetting his identity.  Strange takes leave in his astral form to consult with Tony Stark and Reed Richards over the matter.

The Good

This is an almost entirely Rivera-drawn issue, and it’s a nice-looking book.  It’s not as great as the previous issue – which is likely due to the crushing deadlines that have caused delays in this arc – but it’s still solid work.  The colors tend to be a little too dark and flat, but that probably lends itself more to the setting and plot than anything else.  The artwork is again the strong point.

Once again, this is a Mary-Jane-centric issue.  While this has its drawbacks, seeing a proactive MJ is almost always a benefit to a story.  She saves her Aunt Anna and very nearly dies for the effort, and there is a palpable sense of danger … to an extent (more on this in short order).

The script here focuses entirely on telling one story, which also has its pros and cons.  On the pro side, Quesada chose to include very few needless distractions and cuts to the present as in previous issues – without the frame story, this plays as a normal Spider-Man issue.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the singular focus is also what ruined the story.

We finally get some indication of what really happened in the new version of “Back in Black,” which I appreciate, but the story itself lacks punch.  We already know, since this is a flashback, that neither Anna nor Mary Jane could possibly be seriously harmed or killed in the story because we’ve seen them in the present continuity.  That makes the chase sequences a chore to read.  While they’re cleverly illustrated, full of interesting angles and fluidly moving characters, the entire idea is just boring.  On the surface, there is a sense of danger to the story, but once you think about it logically, that sense disappears completely.

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Is this supposed to remind us of The Burglar? Well, you failed.

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The plot with the Kingpin is a good idea, but it just creates more confusion.  For starters, there is no solid place to put this story in continuity.  While it seems to take place after “Back in Black,” the fact that Wilson Fisk is (a) completely unharmed, and (b) still messing with Spider-Man’s personal life seems to indicate that he never took that epic beating from The Amazing Spider-Man #542.  Second, we see that Fisk turns to Eddie Muerte to kill Peter’s family.  This is a pretty pointless twist.  Why did it have to be Eddie?  There’s no in-story reason why this needs to be the case, other than to create a cheap shock moment.  Even on that level, it fails, because Quesada and Rivera tipped their hand by having Eddie’s “assassin suit” feature a luchador mask.  I knew the moment the assassin appeared that it was Eddie, so the reveal was a dud.  This ties together the plot of the first issue of the arc, since we now know that it was the Kingpin to whom the gangster was referring in the restaurant scene, but the entire subplot was an unnecessary element.

Peter turns to Doctor Strange for help eliminating the world’s knowledge of his identity.  Once again, we get a magical retcon to cover up the mistakes and lousy writing of several years ago.  I hate that they felt the need to introduce the explanation in this fashion because it just comes across as contrived.  Doctor Strange can’t heal Aunt May of a simple gunshot wound (she’s saved by the power of love, apparently, which is a real load of bullshit), but he can heal Mary Jane of internal injuries and execute a perpetual, worldwide mindwipe?  Give me a break!  (This also creates an issue with repeatability.  When Mark Waid wanted to tell a story in his great Fantastic Four run that involved Ben Grimm being killed and returning from death, a large focus behind-the-scenes was making sure that the mechanism of his return was a “non-repeatable phenomenon,” as Waid put it.  If Ben could be returned from the dead, they had to make sure it could be done in a way that the characters couldn’t fall back on every time somebody died.  Here, I didn’t get the sense that the mindwipe will be a non-repeatable phenomenon.  We’ll have to wait and see what Quesada has up his sleeve in the next issue.)

Since the limp chase and subsequent realization by Peter – one that any logical person would have considered long before unmasking publicly, owing itself entirely to how poorly Peter was written during the Civil War era by Straczynski, Millar, and others, under the watch of Quesada himself – make up most of the issue, the majority of it comes across as a pointless read.  I hate having my time wasted by comic book issues, and this one is definitely a waste of time outside of the last several pages.  This really shouldn’t have been a full issue, and this installment reveals that the structure of the arc is fundamentally flawed, to the point that it may be irredeemable.

There are several small moments that also made me roll my eyes, including an pretentious, drawn-out appearance by a dude that is clearly Tom Brevoort, Mary Jane taking a backhand that very nearly comes across as editorial wish fulfillment, and use of that incorrect Fitzgerald name again, but these are insignificant compared to the problems with the plot.

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At least he's not being condescending.

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The Ugly

Although his artwork is only limited to one and three-quarters pages, Quesada managed to fit in a panel so mind-bogglingly awful that it makes me wonder how it ever got past the inker, let alone the inker, colorist, and editor …

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Look at those legs and try to tell me that Mary Jane is drawn correctly. I DARE you.

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The Bottom Line

After being pleasantly surprised by the previous issue, this installment wiped away all the goodwill.  It’s slow, nearly pointless drivel that manages to waste both the reader’s time and money.  This isn’t the worst Spider-Man story ever, as some people on this site and elsewhere have claimed (come on, it isn’t even the worst Spider-Man story THIS YEAR), but it’s still not worth reading.  1.5 out of 5 webheads.

42 Responses to “THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #640 Review”

  1. #1 Fred says:

    This is a worthy sequel to OMD, its that bad.

  2. #2 Captain Cheesesteak says:

    The Power of Love could get me off my deathbed.
    I love anything Huey Lewis & The News.

  3. #3 Donovan Grant says:

    You gotta love the Fitzgerald name being used AGAIN after they went back on it two years ago.

    …….

    What’s going on here? Where’s the editor?

  4. #4 Gerard Delatour II says:

    @Donovan: He’s stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. Or is it the Brooklyn Bridge? :P

  5. #5 Tiger Topher says:

    So we had Quesada draw himself as Peter Parker and now we have Brevoort interacting with Spidey. This is really nothing but bad fan fiction.

  6. #6 Gerard Delatour II says:

    @Tiger Topher: To be fair, cameos have been a part of comics as far back as I can remember. However, there’s a difference between a one-or-two panel appearance and having a runner that’s a page and a half long, like the one in this issue …

  7. #7 JGC says:

    I prefer to read the issue like this:

    Page 1 – Recap page, nothing wrong with that
    Page 2 – MJ and Peter (in the present) talking about Aunt May’s recovery
    Page 3 – Peter (in the past) talking to a doctor about Aunt May’s recovery
    Page 21 – Spidey swinging with MJ thinking about how he needs to fix his secret identity
    Pages 23-24 – Spidey proposing the mindwipe deal with Doc Strange
    Page 25 – MJ and Peter (in the present) discussing the mindwipe deal
    Page 26 – Doc Strange, Tony Stark, Reed Richards splash page

    Take out all the filler crap (crooked nurse, Kingpin, Aunt Anna, Eddie Muerte) and you have yourself 8 pages that could be added onto the end of part 2 or beginning of part 4 – thus shortening this cruddy OMIT storyline.

    Sheesh.

  8. #8 AmFan15 says:

    Darn it, Captain Cheesesteak, you beat me to it!

    “Its strong and its sudden, and its cruel sometimes,
    But it might just save your life.
    That’s the power of love.”

  9. #9 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    Wow. After reading J.R.’s article about Back in Black and ASM #542, it’s such a shame that, according to Marvel, Parker beating the heck out of Fisk never happened.

    Why can’t we have nice things?

  10. #10 Bertone says:

    I wonder if Joe Q is a big Anna Watson fan. We’ve seen more of her in parts 1-3 of OMIT than we have the last 150 issues of ASM.

  11. #11 BD says:

    Gerard,
    What’s your 2 cents on Spidey Sunday’s?

  12. #12 CRM says:

    @Gerard and Two Bit Specialist

    When MJ is listening outside the door to Eddy talking to Anna, he says “Him and the Big Man have gone their fifteen rounds, but beatin’ the crap ouf of Fisk in front of a whole prison block…I’m prety sure that was the last straw”. So they did still have the beat down in the prison. The way I read this issue, instead of just targeting MJ and Aunt May, Fisk is now targeting everyone in their lives in retaliation for the fight in the prison, which explains why they go after Aunt Anna.

    I actually liked this issue better than the last one….not a lot, but I thought it was better.

  13. #13 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @CRM Okay, I did not read the issue, so I wasn’t aware. Still, you’d think Fisk learned his lesson.

  14. #14 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    Come to think of it, if Dr. Strange was responsible for the mind-wipe, it would also explain why he, who is cosmically aware, did not detect something wrong with Spidey, because he was responsible for it. Did he mind-wipe himself? Does he remember doing it for Spidey, yet not remembering his true identity? My head spins just thinking about it.

  15. #15 LUNI_TUNZ says:

    OK, I’m gonna ask it. What’s wrong with MJ’s legs?

    also, Brevoort appears in a whopping 4 whole panels (5 if you count the one where he’s barely visible). What’s the big deal? It’s not like he’s getting his own ongoing.

  16. #16 LUNI_TUNZ says:

    @TBS: If half the villains “learned their lesson” these serials would be alot shorter.

  17. #17 LUNI_TUNZ says:

    Also, also, MJ never got internal injuries, unless your book has pages mine doesn’t. And there is mention of Kingpin taking a beating in the prison.

    Also, in the future, I should probably type these in word first, instead of making 10 posts.

  18. #18 cbasfrench says:

    @Luni_Tunz – “OK, I’m gonna ask it. What’s wrong with MJ’s legs?”

    MJ’s legs make her look like she’s only four feet tall…she’s supposed to be a model…you’d think she would be depicted in such a way as to make her appear taller…

  19. #19 Howie says:

    Yes ASM sucks. Yes it has sucked since BND. Yes its not worth reading anymore. Thats why I only read the reviews. I read the book for more than a decade including a year after BND. Since then I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. The book isn’t worth reading and won’t be worth reading unless they undo BND and decannonize everything thats come since. They don’t even have to do it in story. Just come out and say “whoops, well that sucked. We made a mistake. So we’re going to go back and pretend it never happened. That was all a What If. Sorry guys.” When that happens I’ll think about spending my money on Spierman again.

    -Howie-

  20. #20 Farley Stillwell says:

    1.5?! I thought this issue was the strongest part of OMIT so far. I appreciated the references to Gayle and Kristy, and enjoyed seeing the ratinale behind Pete deciding to protect his secret ID again. BIB still happened eactly the same way, Kingpin’s beating is mentioned. The “power of love” thing is obviously how Mephisto saved May, working thru Pete. As for saying the chase scenes were dull because you know MJ and Anna will be OK, isn’t that like saying any fight Spidey’s ever had is bring because you know he won’t die?
    Finally, you say that we’ll be getting a magical retcon, yet Stephen goes to Reed and Tony. Between the three of them, they’ve got the technology, science and magical solutions covered.

  21. #21 Gerard Delatour II says:

    @BD: These Spidey Sundays strips are really insignificant in the grand scheme of the book. I honestly don’t know why they’re even there, because I only get a fleeting impression of them that is quickly forgotten. That’s why I don’t bother to discuss them in the review — it would get one line, if that.

    @Farley: Why don’t you ever have anything to say about my positive reviews? Like, I don’t know, THE LAST ONE? It’s no wonder you constantly whine about how negative the site is …

  22. #22 The Dark Spider says:

    Oh the horror! I need to buy this issue so I can burn it with fire and holy water! Seriously, couldn’t Spidey turn to the Sentry? Everyone forgot who he was so why do it again?
    Congratulations Marvel! You’ve finally created a something as bad as OMD.

  23. #23 Enigma_2099 says:

    @ Gerard… what a silly question to ask him…

  24. #24 Spidey Fan says:

    Farley posted: “The “power of love” thing is obviously how Mephisto saved May, working thru Pete.”

    @ Farley: Except Whacker has already stated over at CBR that Mephisto had absolutely nothing to do with saving Aunt May.

    Great review Gerard. I agree w/ you on every point, including MJ being drawn by Quesada with stumpy legs. Terrible! He should never draw MJ again.

  25. #25 The Dark Spider says:

    Hmm. I should have thought my first comment through. Yez, this issue is terrible, matter of fact everything Quesada haa done with Spider-man is terrible. His masterpeice OMD in truth should have ended with Aunt May dead. I’ve lost track of how many times she has almost died and actually pronounced dead. Joe hit the reset button so Spider-man would be remade in his image. An abuse of power. That is why he is involved in ASM. All the stories in BND aren’t for the reader’s enjoyment, it’s for Joe’s. Does anyone at Marvel have the courage to tell the Joe no? JMS did, I think, but he’s at DC right now. Does no one other than fans have the guts to tell Joe that his work sucks? Everything Joe is involved in is an abomination. OMD, BND, OMIT and surely that third part of the OMD saga if it doesn’t undo the deal. Swallow your pride Joe and save the thing your destroying!

  26. #26 LUNI_TUNZ says:

    @cbasfrench – well, atleast it’s not another “Quesada draws her SOOOOOO fat” approach.

    I don’t know her “official” height, though, to be fair, she probably left her around the house heels at home.

  27. #27 Donovan Grant says:

    @Farely, Wacker said Mephisto dnt save May. Peter did.

    Wonderful.

  28. #28 Wolfie says:

    @ LUNI_TUNZ

    According to Marvel stats, MJ’s 5′ 8′ and 120 pounds.
    http://marvel.com/universe/Watson,_Mary_Jane

  29. #29 George Berryman says:

    Her lack of heels have nothing to do with it. Quesada drew her legs too short. Since he was using himself as a reference for Peter I’m wondering if he wasn’t using someone else as a reference for MJ.

  30. #30 tickbite says:

    Great review, I totally agree with most of it. But now, take a BIG step back and read this issue again pretending OMD never happened. If we ignore Quesada’s ugly art pieces and the Doc Strange ending, the rest is a fun, inventive and, yes, thrilling example of what Spider-Man could have been had they just continued after Civil War. I am one of the few who liked Peter’s unmasking. And these kinds of stories were the ones I looked forward to. We don’t need magic or Stephen Strange. We need suspenseful stories, like Peter beating up the Kingpin, and MJ reading the “Beware of the Dogs” signs while stupid villains do not.
    This issue is what I’d call entertaining. Great, even. If only Marvel had not messed up the Spider-Man character to the point where none of these stories matter anymore.

    “she’s saved by the power of love, apparently, which is a real load of bullshit”

    Exactly.

  31. #31 Lonecow says:

    The thing that made me absolutely hate this issue was the full on Character assassination of Mary Jane.

    Mary Jane killed two pet dogs. She knowingly led the killer into her neighbors yard, got the two dogs killed, which she apparently knew would happen and then had time to make a joke about it.

    Really? I just want this OMIT shit to end. Now we know that Spidey and Mary were together as a couple in a common law marrage this entire time. I’m fine with that. Just end it. All this stuff could have been one issue.

  32. #32 Themanofbat says:

    I mentioned the “Fitzgerald” name in a letter to Marvel, and for a reply from Tom Brevoort…

    “Mike,

    There’s nothing in OMIT that talks about why that particular alias was used, so it made more sense to keep the name the way it had been, rather than to change it and just confuse everybody who compared this story to OMD/Back In Black.

    Tom B”

    Take it for what it’s worth…

    Having said all that, it was the best part of the 3 so far…. here’s hoping part 4 really pays off…

  33. #33 Enigma_2099 says:

    Peter saved Aunt May…

    … someone remind me again why they made the deal with Mephisto again?

  34. #34 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Enigma – I would take that as Peter making a bogus deal with Mephisto. He would’ve gotten what he wanted anyway (May alive) had he made the deal or not. Mephisto just took advantage to get what he wanted.

  35. #35 Themanofbat says:

    Yes… It’s the Mephisto kicking in the nuts that we’ve all been wondering about since BND began… brilliant.

  36. #36 Heartburn says:

    [Just copying and pasting what I said on another board because I’m too lazy to make up another bad comment about this]

    This issue made me really angry I mean WOW. MJ smacked around (brings back memories almost doesn’t it?), the fat guy from the first part of OMIT returns with a wrestling mask, MJ gets attacked by a dog, Tom Brevoort appearing in this issue (look back at the scene at the hospital before Spidey swings off to save MJ), and then the Illumanti (Stark, Richards and Strange) appearing to discuss about what to do with Peter’s secret identity… WHAT?!

    I need to put this issue away and cool off for a while.

  37. #37 Bryan says:

    As I have long said, Marvel has been ruining ASM with bad writing since the Clone Saga. One Omit In Time (TM) is just the latest catastrophe. But this is so bad, I actually look back longingly at the Clone Saga, that’s how bad it’s git.

  38. #38 SpideyTerry says:

    “Look at those legs and try to tell me that Mary Jane is drawn correctly. I DARE you.”

    Of course Mary Jane is being drawn correctly… if the intent was to make her seem like a transvestite.

  39. #39 SpiderPlumber says:

    I’m trying sooooooooooo hard to still enjoy this book…I really am.
    Gerard, I usually agree with your reviews, but I disagree on one point, and as Farley mentioned in reply #20…….although I knew the assassin wasn’t going to “off” MJ, it was interesting to see her manage to escape from one of the Kingpin’s “professionals”. As I was reading the book, one thought that did NOT enter my head at all is “this is a waste of time”.
    I simply enjoyed what I was reading…and we’ll leave it at that.

    Cheers!

  40. #40 SpiderPlumber says:

    …and enjoying ASM is something that doesn’t happen all that often anymore, so I’ll take what i can get.

  41. #41 Donovan Grant says:

    Is it supposed to be self-referential that the guy who ruined Peter and MJ’s marriage is a fat hispanic dude? ‘Cause if so…

  42. #42 WebHead529 says:

    Like most everyone else, this ish infuriated me. Right from the get-go with the “power of love” you got a sense that JQ was ready to s**t all over the readers. The Brevoort plug was shameless and cheesy, and we don’t need to go over JQ’s art anymore, it’s just not worth it. I loved Rivera’s work but it’s the only thing keeping me in this til Origin of the Species. Btw can anyone explain to me the panel where we see the bullet shell leave Muerte’s gun? I looked all over for bullet holes in the landscape in the following panels but I found nothing. It took me a good minute or so to realize MJ wasn’t shot.