Marvel Comics allowed writer Dan Slott to essentially kill off Peter Parker for over a year. While everyone’s favorite wall crawler was in limbo, a megalomaniac prone to “Nazi-like torture” experiments on his victims was in control of Peter’s body. Fans knew that one day the real hero would return, and some of them actually thought that his time away would give Dan Slott an opportunity to conceive of fresh new ideas for the title. They were wrong.
Six issues into The Amazing Spider-Man, it may as well be called The Emasculated Spider-Man or The Superficial Spider-Man. It is painful to see Spider-Man become a supporting character in his own book, and that pain is exacerbated by Peter’s lack of character development.
Take the new character Silk, for example. She shows up and it is immediately established that she is faster than Peter, she has webbing skills he doesn’t possess, her spider-sense is more acute and her command and control in the heat of battle matches or surpasses his — despite being locked up in a cell for 13 years. (Credibility points if you’re also annoyed at a character without a resume who lands an internship at a major cable news network.)
Is Silk a supporting character, or is Dan Slott using The Amazing Spider-Man as a vehicle to propel his creations onto bigger and better things? Why should fans who plunk down $4.00 to enjoy The Amazing Spider-Man be made to feel as if they’re reading The Sensational Silk? They shouldn’t.
Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of Dan Slott’s work is his penchant for making characters behave in incongruous ways with their established personality when the means serve his ends. While I am no Black Cat historian, I can’t help but think that her transformation into a bloodless killer has been handled with the finesse one would see if the Rhino waltzed down a supermodel runway. It’s jarring, it makes readers scratch their head when they’re supposed to be immersed in the book, and it reeks of a writer who is either a.) sloppy, b.) taking creative shortcuts because he thinks he can get away with it, c.) indifferent to what fans of that mistreated character think, or d.) all of the above.
Readers might be able to deal with Spider-Man repeatedly getting saved by a brand new hero in his own book if, as Peter Parker, there were sufficient character development. One would think that the six months after Peter Parker essentially returned from the dead would warrant considerable time for soul-searching introspection between action sequences. Instead, Peter Parker goes about his life as if nothing of much significance has happened; he has an “I sorta-kinda died — moving on,” mentality. Meanwhile, Silk comes to his aid, Black Cat embarrasses him, and Anna Maria Marconi runs his company. The Emasculated Spider-Man bumbles around on the battlefield and in his personal life, and at the end of the day fans are left hoping the upcoming Spider-Verse — where the original Spider-Man will likely take a bigger back seat in his own book — offers something more.
If you thought The Amazing Spider-Man would improve with its relaunch, then you were wrong. At this rate, the next time six months of strong Spider-Man stories take place will be when Dan Slott finally passes the torch to a new creative team.
Update: Alpha Game was kind enough to read and share my post. Head on over there if you get a chance and return the kindness.