Pick of the Week

December 24, 2003 – The Amazing Spider-Man #502

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Story by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by John Romita Jr.
Inks by Scott Hanna
Colors by Matt Milla
Letters by Dave Sharpe

Published by Marvel Comics | $2.25

I’m a sentimental fool. I love the kind of superhero stories that really make the characters have a level of realism that could make them appear to exist in our world. Tie in the holidays and a heart warming Spider-Man story about doing the right thing and it’s a good read. But there were two elements that were just plain bad, which I’ll touch upon further down. But first, the good…

The issue starts with yet another Peter/Mary Jane “talk” about their lives together, which feels like the 70th conversation they’ve had in the past year’s worth of issues. Luckily, a police siren blares and Peter “goes to work.” The only difference now, is it seems that Mary Jane is supportive of Peter’s alter ego, which is always a nice thing.

In a nice little story transition, the story isn’t the crime that Peter springs to help out with, but with the old man who sees him go by. We are introduced to the character of Leo Zelinsky, a tailor in New York City. Turns out he’s the tailor to superheroes and super-villains both. Yep, the “super-tailor.” We’re treated to flashbacks of him fitting The Thing with size 70 pants, sewing Captain America’s uniform, repairing Thor’s size 56 long tunic and even repairing damage to Doctor Doom’s cloak. It’s a genius story device and JMS wrote it masterfully. He nailed the old, local, Jewish tailor character right down to the snarky remarks towards Spider-Man criticizing his costume.

The story hinges on this tailor never getting involved with his clients. He serves hero and villain alike and believes that he provides a service, and what the clients do with their clothes is none of his business. But after overhearing a wannabe assassin and his plans to kill a public official, his grandson, drawing the almost predictable WWII comparison convinces him to tip someone off. So, he turns to the local guy, Spider-Man. A great self-contained story that reminds us of right and wrong and what it feels like to believe that these heroes really do exist in our world.

Now the bad, and they’re really just nitpicks:

1) The Cover. I’m getting really sick and tired of covers that have nothing to do with the story inside. I know what it’s like to run a production similar to printing comics and I know that sometimes you may need the cover before the story is done etc. etc., but we have a history to respect and part of that are great covers that provide a preview of the story inside. This cover of Spider-Man swinging by a kid on a swing just makes sense in the context of this story.

2) The Tailor’s New Costume Design for Spider-Man. In the big 500th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, we get a  glimpse of the possible last stand of Spider-Man, and he was wearing a godawful costume with a big collared jacket, and as it turns out, in this issue, the tailor offers that design to Spider-Man as an update to his current non-functional costume. I’m going to say it right now JMS, so listen: Don’t mess with the costume. It’s timeless. Trying to change it to your image is just a classless move that’s already been done in the 90’s. And it was a mistake.

Aside from those two gripes, I loved every page of this issue so much I read it multiple times. I encourage you to do the same.

Ron Richards
Sentimental Hogwash

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