Dan Slott has admitted in his Twitter feed that he isn’t a religious guy, but he and Christos Gage stuffed the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man with “plot-presents” like a Christmas stocking. But did Santa Slott give fans what they wanted? As usual, it’s a mixed bag.
In many ways ASM5 seems to be the “beginning of the end” issue for Parker Industries. Peter figures out a somewhat-convoluted plan hatched by the terrorist network Zodiac, which demands “all” of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s and Parker Industries’ surveillance assets be brought to bear on London. Before he and the other heroes are able to confront the group as it raids a museum, the young CEO realizes he has lost control of his company (Sajani announces that nanobots infiltrated the UK’s closed-circuit surveillance cameras), that he’s stretched himself too thin, and that being the head of a major company brings with it different responsibilities than being a superhero.
As usual, Giuseppe Camuncoli lifts the book up a few notches — his work is consistently gorgeous — but at the end of the day the payoff isn’t quite what it should be because of strange editorial decisions in the past.
For example, Sajani is pinned with the nanobot security breach and fired, even though she had nothing to do with it. Readers have no sympathy for her because the infraction she did commit not long ago was much worse: In Situation A she actively tried to make a deal with someone who was in the process of destroying the company and putting lives at risk; in Situation B — even if she were guilty — she would have been acting to save lives during a terror attack when every second counted.
Besides, if Peter were being intellectually honest, then he would admit that surveillance technology and tactics he and S.H.I.E.L.D. use under “normal” circumstances probably break countless local, state, federal and international laws.
In reality, the British government would not want to publicly rake Parker Industries over the coals for breaching its security apparatus because doing so would make the U.K. look inept. It would have been handled behind the scenes, and officials would have begged him to help identify their systems’ worst vulnerabilities.
The whole security debate brings readers to the book’s climax, where Spider-Man must act quickly to save the lives of Zodiac “pawns” before poison pills inside their bodies kill them all. The group’s mastermind, Scorpio, escapes. He does this despite extensive S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the area, other superheroes on site, and Parker Industries’ access to the U.K.’s CCTV cameras. Readers are left thinking, “Ummm, okay.”
In short, ASM5 is probably a book to have for those who are already invested in the series. It has plenty of action, the plot is moved forward on many fronts, and Doctor Octopus’ plans as The Living Brain appear to be rolling along. Not everything in the ASM stocking will thrill fans, but there are still plenty of “presents” for them to enjoy.
Exit Question: Dan Slott’s big lump of coal inside ASM5
During the Zodiac’s attack on the British museum families run for cover (see top image). One cop lies on the ground in a puddle of blood, which seems to have leaked out his ears. Another officer has been slammed so hard against the concrete by Taurus that it cracked. Others are clearly under some kind of mind-control. And yet, for some odd reason, Dan Slott chose to insert a British cop drolly making an anti-American crack.
“Americans. Lovely,” he says as carnage breaks out around him. Would any policeman react that way in the midst of a deadly terror attack?
It’s just one more instance of Slott needlessly pandering to progressive readers. He shoehorns the sentiment into the issue to weirdly win political points, which annoys those just looking for a good story.
My coverage of the writer’s response to the San Bernardino, California, terror attack on Dec. 2 can be found here.