ASM2 Zodiac

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.

ASM2 whale

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.

ASM2 Rino

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).

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

13 comments

  1. As always, a very on-point entry Doug. At least the seeds have been planted for Sable’s potential return now that Rhino is revealed at the end to be alive, but doesn’t that just undermine the dramatic magnitude of Peter’s choice in that prior story? Just goes to show Marvel will play it safe when they must, far-reaching consequence has its limits in storytelling…which is never a good lesson to teach any aspiring writer.

    1. Bringing Silver Sable back would definitely lessen the dramatic impact of her “death.” If it turns out she just used some conveniently-handy biological agent to free herself from Rhino and all is well, then I will be disappointed.

  2. A question about the story. You mention that Peter is selling spider tracers through his company. I was under the impression that they only worked with his spider-sense, hence could only be used by him (or by someone with his same powers, like clone Ben Reilly or kids Annie and Mayday). Did the comic address this?

    Too bad Slott passed up the opportunity for a “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” joke with his holo-whales, especially since Peter is a Trekkie.

    I didn’t know that Silver Sable and Rhino were ever considered dead, but five buck says (if I was a betting man), that they’ll show up again. As Nick Fury once said, one of the biggest rules is “If there’s no corpse, the guy’s alive.” (Sometime, it’d be really interesting to see a story which talked about how theology would be affected in world where comic book deaths were commonplace. I could see people asking Christians: “So what’s so special about Christ’s resurrection? Professor X did it. Superman did it. Jean Grey’s done it several times…” I might be offended by it, but it would be unique.)

    Whenever Marvel, Slott, or whoever announce the next big concept (or mutation) for the “Spider-Man” comic, I often think of the dinner scene in “Jurassic Park.” In that scene, the guests are considering their first glimpses of Jurassic Park and some of them are starting to question the park’s safety.

    Ian Malcolm is the most distrustful of InGen’s whole operation and the decision to build the park at all. “Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun…” he explains. “I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it.

    “You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it…”

    John Hammond starts to defend his company. “I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…”

    “Yeah, yeah,” Malcolm interrupts, “but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

    This really sums up in a nutshell what I think is wrong with Spider-Man today, explained by an analogy twenty-two years in the making! And, yes, I’d still object if Slott was writing “Spider-Man” stories about condors! 😉

    1. They don’t really explain the commercial spider-tracers at this point. I’m assuming it’s just an electronic device you can attach to whatever you want and then monitor via an app on Parker Industries’ “webware.”

      “Yeah, yeah,” Malcolm interrupts, “but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

      Over the past few years I have made this exact same point, almost word-for-word in terms of Slott’s run. For example, I have said I didn’t have a problem with Doc Ock getting spider-powers and running around the city for a certain amount of time. But, should he have “killed” off Peter for more than a year to do it? Should he have put a megalomanic who almost killed six billion people behind Spider-Man’s mask? I’d say the answer is a resounding “No.”

    2. I thought GPS tracking already exists. It’s called “smart phones.”

      Also, wouldn’t tracking someone’s location without their knowledge or permission be illegal?

  3. Stillanerd’s new review is up: Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #2

    “Whereas the first issue was more dense in terms of its plotting and establishing the new status quo, Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #2 is a light, quick but enjoyable read. Only no matter how entertaining this issue is, the question asked at the beginning of this review remains: What is a Spider-Man comic? Because while the character appears to look like Spider-Man, act like Spider-Man, make jokes like Spider-Man, and even has recollections Spider-Man would have, one cannot help but wonder, based on the situations this Spider-Man is in and seems far too comfortable with, whether not we’re looking at an impostor. Not a literal impostor such as a clone, or the brain of a mad scientist with tentacle arms transplanted into his body, but a metaphorical one instead.” — Stillanerd, Oct. 22, 2015.

    1. Stillanerd has acheived the miraculous feat of creeping into our heads and channeling all our thoughts…I’ve always considered post-2007 Peter Parker, and every character in his ensemble since OMD, to have been replaced by “chaos magic”-influenced insurgent forces that utilize the worst traits of the characters to get by in life. You could make a whole story about this and it’d make for a complex and engaging event about the nature of identity and how much of out-of-character behavior is down to you or outside infulence.

    2. Stillanerd never leaves a stone un-turned in his reviews. He has a keen objective eye, which is why Mr. Slott does not appear to be a fan of his analysis. If Marvel were smart, they would reach out to him behind the scenes and try to get him writing their books instead of reviewing them. You cannot stop Stillanerd! You can only hope to co-opt him. 🙂

      In regards to your “chaos magic” idea…I like it. Maybe that can be Stillanerd’s first project at Marvel.

  4. Because the Mephisto deal is always humming in the background, like a computer program that runs 24/7, it’s always there as a future explanation for Peter’s bizarre, progressive personality deterioration.

  5. One of the biggest gripes about Slott’s writing was that he made Spider-Man too ‘weak’ or incompetent, inexperienced. Now he’s getting up to AMAZING things, and winning, which is what I love to see Spider-Man do. As for Parker? He’s happy, and I like to see him happy, but there is a nasty, tired habit of dragging him through the dirt with short pitstops that become negligible coughbigtimecough.

    Although I must remember how much I enjoyed JMS’s run. It had Peter accomplishing so much on a small scale, helping neighborhoods and being involved in the lives of the little people. I grew up with that run, and to me it is the core of his character. His soul. And with this, a Stark/Wayne/Parker amalgam, I wonder ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’

    His achievements seem to lessen and it becomes less about what he accomplishes and more about what gadgets he used to accomplish it with. I believe that’s the disconnect I’m experiencing. The tree gets further away from the roots until you can’t even see where it sprouted from.

    Still, I’ll take this over the top blockbuster Spider-Man over the previous one, that was much more mediocre and hard to watch. If there is a bad direction to take Spider-Man, I think turning him into a slapstick joke character is much worse than this.

    I apologize, I’m still quite sour about the previous relaunch and the disappointment that was Spider-Verse.

    On to the positives of this issue, I enjoyed the banter, well, bickering, between the villains. Spider-Man IS a down to earth hero, so this shenanigans would raise a couple of eyebrows as he is ‘out of his neighborhood’, so to speak. But the villains give a feel of having a piece of his own neighborhood, which is nice. I also like the dynamic between Peter and Hobie. It reminds me of what could have been if Kaine was the one acting as Peter’s bodyguard and confidant, which I believe would satisfy a lot of readers.

    All in all, this would be a good alternate universe for Spidey. Like, you know, the ‘like-but-not-quite’ one that died in the opening of Spider-verse, the arrogant one. We’ve had rich, arrogant Peter, mentally unstable movie star mutant Peter, only hero in the world that absorbs alternate universe counterparts Peter. My favorite was Assassin Spider-Man, whose adventures I believe would be quite entertaining, and alike to this.

    1. I apologize, I’m still quite sour about the previous relaunch and the disappointment that was Spider-Verse.

      No need to apologize, Edbuoy. You’re definitely not alone when it comes to your feelings on the the last re-launch. 🙂

      I think pairing up Hobie and Peter was a pretty good idea. I think there are a lot of fun moments that can come out of that team-up. As you said, it feels as though this whole Peter Parker-Bond-Wayne-Stark would be a good for an alternate universe tale.

    2. “As you said, it feels as though this whole Peter Parker-Bond-Wayne-Stark would be a good for an alternate universe tale.”

      Wasn’t it always an alternate universe tale?

      I could be wrong, but as I understood it, whenever time travel was involved in these comics and the past was screwed up, it created a brand-new parallel universe, rather than the new chain of events over-writing the original timeline à la “Back to the Future.” I think that the “Age of Apocalypse” stuff from the ’90s is an example of how Marvel time travel works, but I didn’t actually read it, so I’ll admit error if anyone recalls differently.

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