The Amazing Spider-Man: Election Day
– by Marc Guggenheim and John Romita Jr., 2009
Summary from Goodreads:
It’s the climax to a year’s worth of Spider-Man stories as questions are answered and Spidey’s new world is rocked to its core. Who’s the person terrorizing people as Menace? Who’s behind the Spider-Tracer Killings? Who’s going to be the Mayor of New York City? Marc Guggenheim and John Romita Jr. have all the answers.
I honestly can’t remember where I got this Amazing Spider-Man volume, which is why I wanted my first Mighty Thursday to be reviewing it. For a collection that holds a certain amount of historical significance, as many prints of this have President Barack Obama’s face on the cover (mine is the above cover), it is actually awkward to own as an isolated volume. As the summary points out, Election Day is the conclusion to a year’s worth of story arcs, none of which I have read.
In terms of Spider-Man canon it is the eighth collected volume of Amazing Spider-Man following the infamous One More Day storyline, which brought about a new status quo for the character. In this volume Peter Parker does not appear to have any romantic entanglements and is rooming with an NYPD officer. While there are only slight references to it, it would seem that this story takes place shortly after Secret Invasion as well, just before/during the “Dark Reign” period of Marvel Comics that ended with 2010’s “Siege” crossover event.
Despite this book wrapping up so many storylines, I didn’t find it inaccessible. At most I missed out on speculation and intrigue, but I didn’t find these stories compelling enough to be disappointed. Menace, though a physically formidable foe, was rather one-note and didn’t offer much. When looking at a list of suspects on the info pages at the beginning of the volume I actually managed to guess their identity, though I had never been aware of the character beforehand. It just felt like an obvious choice.
The more interesting parts of the story, to me, dealt with the spider-tracer murders and the drama that developed around that. A lot of it didn’t flow very well, since content was broken up and fleshed out in an online issue that appears later in the collection, but it was some of the more interesting stuff. Spider-Man’s innocence was never in doubt, but the way things progressed beyond him being a fugitive took the character more out of his element.
Injury and defeat provide the most tension, as Spider-Man still tries to stop Menace and clear his name despite the odds stacked against him. It’s pretty par for the course for a Spider-Man story, but this kept me engaged nonetheless. The story was decent, just not anything I’d consider a must-read.
The majority of the pencils in the volume are done by John Romita Jr., whose style I enjoy a lot for its distinct, more down-to-earth presentation of characters. It looks just a tad grittier than what I perceive to be the norm, which I like. I find the female characters he draws have particularly less of a glamorous look to them, which feels more realistic. The occasionally more pronounced brows and jawlines of male characters do have a tendency to give them similar looking faces at times, but I didn’t find this to be too much of a problem.
There are four extra issues included, two of which tie-into the story while not being essential to following the plot itself. One deals with side-elements that get glossed over a little during the spider-tracer storyline, and another with Peter dealing with the guilt and frustrations of his life, taking it out on an unnamed D-list villain while receiving treatment from the Night Nurse. I enjoyed this story particularly for introducing Flash Thompson as a double-amputee upon returning from the war, which eventually ties into him becoming Agent Venom down the road.
The last two extras are more focused on being patriotic, one of them being the issue where Spider-Man meets President Obama on Inauguration Day. It’s silly, over-the-top, and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s a little cringy at times, but it’s also self-conscious enough about what it is to be endearing. The last is a President’s Day special issue that has Captain America telling Spider-Man about how he once got sent back in time briefly to witness Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. This one was a little more sentimental, but still tongue-in-cheek.