Sensational Spider-Man # 40 – COMIC: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Clayton Crain

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With big changes on the horizon for old Peter Parker, Aguirre-Sacasa pens what may be the last Spider-man story of our web-headed era. Marvel is hinting at a big turn-back-the-clock in continuity, so this is really the last chance to see this particular Peter Parker with this particular baggage. The issue is therefore fitting, because it centers around Peter Parker meeting God and asking him why his life has been so miserable. What follows is a great summation of the current incarnation of the character and all of the abuse he has taken. In many ways it feels like the Silver Surfer book J. Michael Straczynski is writing right now. Right down to the beautiful iconic paintings.

Aguirre-Sacasa, like many who have written for Sensational and Spectacular, has suffered at times for not being Amazing. The rule's always been that if you were going to pick up one Spidey book per month then you would pick up Amazing; that's where you get continuity and where serious character issues are generally explored. Fortunately, Marvel has seen fit to address this situation, and after the “One More Day” arc, Marvel will do away with all non-Amazing books and instead put out three issues of Amazing per month.

So it is interesting in a week when Sensational and Amazing both hit the stands to close out the disappointing “Back in Black” story arc (the marketing ploy/plot to get Parker back in the black suit) that Aguirre-Sacasa's book would finally leap out from the shadows and tell THE must buy Spidey story for the month.

The art by Clayton Crain is at times completely breathtaking; it's a perfect exercise in painterly looking comics. Arguably, some of the pages here belong on museum walls as iconic representations of contemporary mythology.

Aguirre-Sacasa's writing definitely creates some moments of fantastic beauty, but if there's a criticism of the book, the aforementioned grand-painterly style doesn't always work in concert with Parker's self-deprecating and kinetic wit. Still, on the whole, it is a satisfying, relatively self-contained story that closes out in an appropriate manner this era in Spider-man's life.