Writer Jose Molina’s take on The Amazing Spider-Man is like beef stew, if all the carrots, potatoes, and onions were fresh and well-prepared, while the star of the show — the beef — were rotten. Issue 1.3 of Amazing Grace features The Amazing Spider-Atheist, which makes zero sense given the character’s history. Worse, he is not a tactful skeptic, but a condescending jerk.
For those who are not up to speed, Peter Parker: the Spectacular Atheist is investigating the death and resurrection of a man named Jose Rodriguez. While a mystical group of heroes called the Santerians attempt to get DNA samples from Rodriguez, Peter goes down to Cuba to find out what happened when the terminally ill man was there.
What makes Amazing Grace doubly disappointing is that scenes deserving of kudos for their ambition are spoiled by Molina’s betrayal of the character. Conversations happen with the spirit of Uncle Ben and Beast that intellectually tower over anything Dan Slott has dished out in years, but yet the scenes fall flat because a worldview that Peter Parker has never held has been shoved into his word balloons.
Mike McNulty over at Whatever a Spider Can described the situation perfectly in his review of the issue:
Spider-Man lives a universe (albeit a comic book one) where real magic, gods, ghosts and demons do exist. He’s talked with Uncle Ben’s ghost before, courtesy of Doctor Strange, in Amazing Spider-Man #500. He’s knows people who have come back from the dead, himself included. He’s teamed-up with the likes of Ghost Rider and Thor, the later whom Beast even mentions in his theological debate with Spider-Man. He even had a lengthy conversation with God Himself in Sensational Spider-Man #40. And don’t even get me started again on his run-ins with Mephisto, who is the Marvel Universe’s version of the devil. Spider-Man has always been a scientific rationalist and his own religious upbringing is rather generic if not ambiguous; but the notion he would reject any supernatural explanation, or that he’d be so dismissive of those who subscribe to religion, faith or mysticism, is outright laughable and disingenuous given the character’s own history.
Boom. McNulty rightly drops a Truth Bomb on Molina’s head, and potential customers are better off for it.
Marvel has an enormous problem when it comes to Spider-Man. In the ongoing ASM series, Dan Slott has turned the character into Peter Parker-Wayne-Stark-Zuckerberg-Jobs-Musk. Now, with the “point” issues, readers are also subjected to a writer who dismisses core components of the character to suit his storytelling desires. There is almost zero fidelity to the “soul” of the character (no pun intended). The writers seem to treat ASM like the family van, with themselves in the role of the angry parents shuttling everyone on a vacation.
Slott or Molina: “I’m in charge, kids! We go where I want to go. Don’t make me turn this van around!”
Meanwhile, the passengers are wondering why their driver wants to take the van off a cliff.
If Peter Parker had always been a hard-charging skeptic, then none of this would be an issue. He has never been weirdly preachy or begged his friends to read the Bible, but it is abundantly clear that he has a quiet spirituality to him. To blatantly dismiss that fact and have him sneer at men of faith is an insult to anyone who cares about continuity.
Do not buy this book unless you want to watch a car crash play out for the next couple of months.