Issues Reviewed: #539-543
Starring: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; May Parker; Mary Jane Watson-Parker; The Kingpin
Premise: With his Aunt May near death, an enraged Peter Parker vows to stop those responsible…using any means neccessary.
Peter Parker has never exactly had it easy. You’d think in all these years, he’d finally catch a break, but now things have turned even darker than ever. As if being publicly unmasked and deemed a criminal for rebelling against the Superhero Registration Act wasn’t hard enough, now a sniper’s bullet has critically injured his beloved Aunt May.
Back In Black clearly highlights the tonal changes in the Spider-Man titles, with Peter being forced to actually break into a hospital to leave Aunt May to the care of doctors. Unable to show his face, Peter has no choice but to stand wounded outside her window, listening as doctor’s pronounce her just short of dead.
The story’s dark tone continues as Peter tears through New York City in search of the sniper, not even stopping to put on a costume, until he learns just how close Aunt May is to death. Peter re-donning the Black Costume, though obviously a marketing ploy to tie the series into the coincided release of Spider-Man 3, is a momentous one that leaves fans gasping. Its an incredible thing, seeing that costume again after all these years (even if the circumstances are a little bizarre…scroll down to WTF? Moment to find out why).
But most incredible is the characters resolve. Here we see a Peter who is finally willing to cross that line to prove his point. He doesn’t don the black costume to inspire fear. He wears it now because he is truly ready to kill those responsible. Seeing this dark, angry Peter is a real treat to long-time fans, even if it doesn’t stick in other titles.
Also amazing, the final fight between Peter and Kingpin, the man who orchestrated the hit. its a truly astonishing moment that simply has to be seen.
Though the final issue of the story arc lacks the action of the first four, it still tugs are the heart, as Peter realizes Aunt May isn’t exactly safe yet. Although the story doesn’t truly end with Part 4 (its concluded in the current Spider-Man arc, “One More Day”), it does bring Peter full circle, as he realizes that now all his actions are no longer pinned on Spider-Man, but on Peter Parker.
“Back in Black” is a wonderful Spider-Man arc, filled with gorgeous art and numerous jaw-droppers. Its likely to be collected in a trade soon, and I would highly recommend picking this one up.
There may have been several WTF? moments in Back in Black, but the first is still the greatest: when Peter reclaims the black costume, citing he’s kept it webbed under a gargoyle for the past 20 years. That’s cool and all, but Peter’s webbing has been stated on numerous occasions to dissolve in around one hour.
Peter Parker swore to kill Aunt May’s assailant. Spider-Man showed up and laid the hurt on the Kingpin. So when Spider-Man strips out of the costume and declares that he came to kill the Kingpin, fans finally got to say unanimously what they’d been thinking for years: “Spider-Man is fucking badassss!” If that page wasn’t enough for you, surely the remainder of the issue, in which Peter brilliantly defeats, humiliates and threatens Kingpin, will be.