Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man and Invincible Iron Man now have three issues in circulation. Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis each offer a glimpse into the life of tech moguls, corporate espionage, terrorist organizations, and — most importantly — the heroic men who must navigate the playing field. Just as Peter is out of his element as the CEO of a major corporation, Mr. Slott seems uncomfortable with the kind of story he is writing.
Before getting to some getting into details as to why, exactly, this story seems primed to disappoint, we must first ask the question: Why does Peter Parker keeping responding to blatant insubordination with an impotent line or two about needing to “talk”?
Sajani actively tried to destroy Peter’s vision for the company and got a five-second “talk.” Clayton Cole (aka former criminal Clash) disobeyed him and the response was “It’s okay. … But we will talk about this.”
The situation’s strangeness is compounded because, on some level, Mr. Cole has a point — Spider-Man and The Human Torch were seemingly destroying Parker Industries just to blow off frustration. The “fight” is stopped at one point so Peter can take a call from S.H.E.I.L.D., and then resumed like Rocky Balboa entertaining Apollo Creed’s “favor” fight at the end of Rocky III.
Does The Amazing Spider-Man want to take itself seriously, or does it want to treat its subject matter as something a bit more farcical? Dan Slott doesn’t seem to know, and the result is a disjointed tone.
Consider yet again the difference between Invincible Iron Man and ASM. Everything that is revealed in Bendis’ book appears to be there for a very specific reason. With ASM, it seems as though Mr. Slott just keeps giving Peter more widgets and gadgets and technology for nothing more than a “Wouldn’t it be cool if Peter had Batman’s toys?!” mentality.
One gets the feeling that Bendis actually does legwork into corporate titans and terrorist networks. Mr. Slott seems to rely on preconceived notions about what those worlds might be like based on cursory knowledge obtained through network news.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to this story arc’s success is its main foil: The Zodiac. The characters look and act goofy, yet all indications point to revealing the terror network’s plans over many months. That is a lot of creative real estate. Will it be worth it? ASM has a track record of over-promising and under-delivering; The Zodiac does not inspire confidence anything is destined to change.
The issue ends with Peter, Johnny, and Harry ‘Lyman’ (Yes, a former Green Goblin employed by Parker Industries — but wasn’t he running a coffee shop not long ago?), talking about family, friends, and “fourth” chances. Readers can’t help but think of the repeated chances they have given Marvel with its ASM relaunches.
Editor’s note: I will be reviewing the third issue of “Invincible Iron Man” by Sunday.