Amazing Reviews: “Civil War” (Amazing Spider-Man 532-538)

Updated on October 25, 2019
Nathan Kiehn profile image

Nathan Kiehn is the author of over 100 blog posts on his family website Keenlinks and "The Gray Guard" ebook fantasy trilogy on Amazon.


With Great Comics Comes Great Blogging

A number of years ago, I received a CD/DVD package that had all the issues of Amazing Spider-Man from its inception in 1962 to issue 531 in 2006. And, yes, I’ve read them all, except for the annuals and the first 40 issues, which I already had in hardback format. Since I received that gift, I had amassed a bunch of other ASM issues through gifts and purchases, many of which were seemingly random and only based on if my dad or I thought I’d like the storyline. At some point, it hit me that I had 531 electronic issues as well as a bunch of other physical issues, and current ASM-writer Dan Slott had changed the book with issue 700 over to The Superior Spider-Man. So I asked the question: what if I collected the rest?

That is what I have endeavored to do. And this past Christmas, I received a few volumes as gifts and spent gift money on the rest I didn’t have. So, as of this past January, my mission is finished. I have all 700 issues. Granted, considering that I received the majority of these issues through the CD gift, it doesn’t seem like that much of a quest. I know other people have hunted down every issue of ASM, but I know I personally don’t have the time or the money to take on such a Herculean task. Hence, I’m happy with my own little mission and how it’s turned out.

One thing I recently thought would be cool, now that I have the whole ASM collection, would be to write on my thoughts about the physical volumes I have bought and received. I don’t buy comics to “collect” them, in a manner of speaking. I buy comics to read them. Instead of seeing my ASM collection as simply that, a collection for displaying, I see it as a grand story that stretches across over 50 years of Spider-Man. Now that I own the entire saga, why not go through and talk about what I think regarding sections of the story I’ve gotten?

Iron Mano-a-Spider-Mano
Iron Mano-a-Spider-Mano | Source

ASM's J. Michael Straczynski's Civil War

The first volume that continues the story where my CD/DVD ends is “The Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War,” by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Ron Garney, collecting ASM 532 through 538. Up until this volume, Straczynski had been mainly working with John Romita Jr.—son of fellow Spider-Man artist John Romita—and his art had been incredible and brought a lot of the series, accentuating Straczynski's writing.

Straczynski brought a lot to the series during his run—creating conflict between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, having Aunt May discover Peter's identity as Spider-Man, having Peter join the Avengers, introducing new villains—and this story, in a sense, represents the culmination of his work. For a while, Straczynski's Spidey had been through a lot, such as discovering his powers were derived from magic and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy had children by Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, Spidey's greatest foe. Now, Straczynski brings one of Spidey's largest challenges and really puts him through the wringer.

My CD/DVD ends right before the Civil War event begins, meaning this volume kicks it off into high gear. Working for Iron Man/Tony Stark, Spider-Man finds himself is an incredibly compromising decision after a superhuman incident leads to the passing of the Superhuman Registration Act, a law that commands all heroes to register themselves with the government or face imprisonment. While there’s a main Civil War storyline, this volume delves deeper into Spider-Man’s involvement as he struggles between his loyalty to Tony and his conscience. Interestingly, Straczynski really glosses over some of the larger battles between heroes, choosing to really dig into Peter’s mind and show his thoughts. It shows the struggle between Peter and Tony as they debate, and eventually come to blows, over how best to handle this situation. Whereas the main Civil War story covers a lot of characters, we just see Spidey here and his reaction to it all, the struggles, the fighting, the heartbreak.

Perhaps the largest revelation of the storyline—as depicted in both this volume and the main Civil War volume—is how Peter reveals his identity to the entire public as a show of devotion to the Act and Tony. This catapults the story really nicely as Straczynski allows much of the story to deal with the fallout of this reveal—as a hero who, perhaps out of everyone save Daredevil, has fought the hardest to keep his identity secret over the years, Spider-Man is now faced with his darkest fears. Villains know who he is, heroes refer to him by name like they're friends when they're just allies, and complications arise with the safety of his family. This, paired with his decision to leave Iron Man’s side and join Captain America’s, adds more conflict into the mix.

I think this story’s greatest strength is how Straczynski really makes Peter an “everyman” sort of character, allows him to connect to the audience. Sure, there’s a larger conflict brewing, but Peter’s concerns lie with his family and the impact his actions have on his wife Mary Jane and his Aunt May. Peter’s interactions with characters such as Tony, Captain America, and Reed Richards typically have this “fish out of water” feel, like after all this time, he still feels like this kid granted with superpowers in a world of incredibly strong adults and scientists. But, even so, Peter is able to stand side-by-side with them or even against them. Straczynski is one of the few writers—among others such as Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, and Mark Waid—who really understand dialogue and can make Peter sound like an actual person. His Spider-Man is funny, but human. Where I think guys like Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis can get the funny parts across, their Spider-Man is also often overdramatic in a really corny fashion that comes across as over-the-top and silly. Straczynski weaves his words together well.

Spider-Man's greatest nightmare becomes a reality.
Spider-Man's greatest nightmare becomes a reality. | Source

What Price War?

The story ends on a massive cliffhanger as Aunt May is shot by a sniper hired by the Kingpin, an enemy of Spider-Man’s. This, of course, is how Straczynski shows Peter’s darkest fears becoming reality, and it leads into Straczynski's final run that culminates with the much-derided One More Day storyline, which I will be focusing on soon.

I am constantly stuck in the Civil War/post-Civil War era of Marvel comics. I like reading anything up until Secret Wars, and then it becomes really jumbled and characters get altered and stuff like that. Civil War and the rest of Straczynski's run really have consequences for Spidey that last for years, hence a reason it’s such an important era for Peter. As usual, I’m a fan of Straczynski's take on the character of Spider-Man, and Garney’s art fits a style I enjoy: it’s fun and colorful, without sliding off into ridiculous or cartoony. It reminds me a bit of John Romita Jr., who worked with Straczynski on ASM for a few years.

Overall, this volume is a snapshot of the war the heroes are embroiled in, told from the perspective of a hero who is altered more than most by the end of the climactic showdown. Unfortunately, the biggest downside is that the tension can be hollow at moments, as Aunt May’s life will eventually be saved by the pact Peter and Mary Jane make with Mephisto. However, this could be said about a bunch of other comic book stories as well, so it’s a small flaw in an otherwise very fun volume to read.

Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War

The Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War

3 stars for Spider-Man: Civil War

Civil War Quiz

view quiz statistics


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)