Older readers will remember the episode of “Happy Days” where Fonzi “jumped the shark” in his famous leather jacket while waterskiing. Years from now, perhaps some fans of The Amazing Spider-Man will trace back Peter Parker’s character derailment to the time he started using “holographic whales” on missions to take on global terrorist organizations.
The current relaunch of ASM will likely be as divisive for Spider-Man fans as other aspects of writer Dan Slott’s extended run because, as mentioned before, the character is being used as some sort of James Bond/Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark/Steve Jobs/Peter Parker chimera.
Is it fun to see Spider-Man and The Prowler sneaking around one of The Zodiac’s underwater bases? Yes. Of course. The inner child of any man loves the thought of taking a submarine into the depths of the ocean, finding an evil terrorist organization’s base, and then infiltrating it to save the free world.
The problem in this instance, however, isn’t the dilemma Parker must overcome but changes made to the character to propel him there. Last issue it was revealed that Peter Parker became fluent in Mandarin and mastered secret-agent driving skills within months — as CEO of a rapidly-expanding tech company. Now he is employing holographic whales while selling spider-tracer technology in the global marketplace.
At what point in time do fans of The Amazing Spider-Man say the integrity of the character has been compromised?
At what point has the character been taken so far from his roots that he ceases to be the same man?
At what point does the treatment of Peter Parker, like his holographic whales, become an illusion that hides what is right and what is true?
With that said, the issue did have its strengths — most notably Parker’s reflection upon the time he was forced to leave Silver Sable to (seemingly) die at the hands of Rhino in order to save the world. I have always said that placing heroes in such difficult situations provides opportunities for character development. The “No one dies!” era of ASM was an embarrassment for the book, but it appears as though Mr. Slott was able to turn a few lemons into lemonade. Kudos.
As is the case with the last issue, the decision to buy or pass on this book all depends on your fidelity to the character of Peter Parker.
At this point it doesn’t seem far-fetched to predict Dan Slott turning him into Marvel’s Elon Musk. Instead of Space-X, perhaps Peter Parker will launch “Spider-X.” If readers criticize the “Spider-Rockets” that are introduced in ASM #25, then they will be mocked and ridiculed by those who “know better” (i.e., Marvel’s writers and editors).