ASM11 SpiderMan

Imagine you are a superhero. You have tracked an international terrorist for months as he feverishly looked for an inter-dimensional field of pure “power” and “information.” In short, your suspect wanted to locate a “door into the future.” You catch up to him at the very moment he finds his target. Would you decide to push the terrorist into a quantum field of infinite possibility and lock the door, or would you try to pull him out?

Dan Slott’s Spider-Man chooses the former and says, “I bet you didn’t see THAT coming.”

Fans of The Amazing Spider-Man do not typically expect their hero to aid villains in their evil machinations, so it is true that most of them probably would not have anticipated such a move. Touché, Dan Slott. Touché, indeed.

ASM11

Here is an easy experiment: Glance at your front door. If you were standing under the threshold and a man pushed you inside, locked it from the outside and exclaimed, “Well, we don’t need to worry about that guy anymore,” then how would you react?

My guess is that you would laugh at the man’s stupidity before opening the door and demanding your key back. In a worst-case scenario you would go out your garage, a back door, or possibly one of many windows.

Key

The Amazing Spider-Man #11 is technically the culmination of many months of stories surrounding the Zodiac terrorist group, its mastermind Vernon Jacobs, and his plan to usher in the “age of Scorpio.” The issue was supposed to serve as this story’s climax, but in the end Peter Parker “saves” the world by kicking the can down the road — one year to be precise.

Note: Superheroes are not supposed to treat villains like the U.S. treats its $19 trillion debt and then declare victory. It doesn’t work that way. Regardless, here is the abridged version of how ASM #11 unfolds:

  • Nick Fury turns the International Space Station into a giant beacon for Morse code and sends Scorpio’s location to Spider-Man since most of earth’s satellites are inoperable.
  • Spider-Man, Anna Maria, and Living Brian (aka: Doctor Octopus), and Mockingbird  arrive at Greenwich, London, to stop Scorpio but are quickly dispatched by a giant energy pulse from the Zodiac Key.
  • A doorway to the future is opened and Jacobs reveals that he is the grandson of the original Scorpio, Jacob Fury.
  • Spider-Man decides the best way to defeat Scorpio — as the portal telepathically gives him immense power and precognition — is to push him through and shout, “Take a closer look!”
  • Peter Parker tells Mockingbird he “smacked [Scorpio] into next year,” and she jokes that he did it so they have an excuse to spend more time together.
  • Anna Maria tells Peter that Mockingbird likes him, and then tries to make her “jealous” by clinging to his arm.
  • Doctor Octopus witnesses the “intolerable” act and vows to make his “superior return!”

Regular readers who are disappointed with how the Zodiac tale wrapped up should look at the bullet points above and notice an ongoing trend: Dan Slott, fittingly, often expends more care setting up future events than he does with the task at hand (i.e., telling a tight and compelling story in the here and now).

ASM11 Scorpio push
“It’s ‘so clear now’? You can ‘see it all’ with the power surging through your veins and the information flowing through your brain? Let me just push you closer into a field of infinite possibility…even though you’re evil.”

Just as Batman v Superman faltered because the writers spent too much time trying to set up a Justice League movie, Slott’s ASM regularly falls flat because he focuses too far into the future. No one except Mr. Slott and his good friends will care if 10,000 plot points over the course of ten years can be amusingly traced on a Saturday night if the stories connecting them are mediocre.

It is unfortunate, but once again ASM’s creative team over-promised and under-delivered. Giuseppe Camuncoli should take a bow for consistently stellar art, but he may want to ask to work on a title where his efforts are not a metaphorical life raft.

Exit Question:

The International Space Station orbits the earth at over 17,000 miles per hour. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but ASM appears to have been written like it is a fixed object in space. My guess is that Morse code would not have been a possibility for an object orbiting that fast at 155 miles above the earth.

ISS

Editor’s Note:

The Amazing Spider-Man may be the first Marvel comic to actually acknowledge the existence of the Islamic State group. The first person who can confirm this one way or the other will win a “Doug Prize.”

ASM11 Scorpio

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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.

30 comments

  1. Great review as always.

    Regarding Mockingbird, I get the feeling that she might be the next love interest for Peter as it was vaguely hinted by Slott in the last Spider-Mandate interview he gave.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/spider-mandate-slott-promises-massive-seismic-shift-in-spideys-world

    CBR – Dick Grayson — great name — says, “Peter has an interesting love life,” which seems to be an understatement. “Any chance having Mary Jane or Carlie Cooper?”
    SLott -No plans for Carlie at the moment. We’ve already seen that MJ is coming up. And we might start showing some sparks between Spidey and someone else, soon…

    CBR – A superhero someone else, or a regular old person someone else?
    SLott -Everyone is special, Alex. [Laughs]

    and hinted at in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3

    1. “Great review as always. Regarding Mockingbird, I get the feeling that she might be the next love interest for Peter as it was vaguely hinted by Slott in the last Spider-Mandate interview he gave.”

      Thanks, Animehunter. As always, I appreciate that you take the time to read my reviews! 🙂

      The problem with turning Mockingbird into a love interest is that Dan Slott is the one who is writing the courtship. Dan does not really know how to organically bring romantic relationships about — at least not adult relationships. That’s why we got “Spider-pheromones” between Peter and Cindy and why he and Ms. Tang just magically were “very close.” Everything just seems forced and awkward.

      If Marvel wants Peter to be romantically involved with someone, then they really need to bring someone like Bendis on board to make it happen.

    2. From man-boy to love rat, and I’m sort of afraid with MJ coming next week she’ll want to spend time ‘shipping Peter with anyone but her by story’s end, or perhaps will warn people not to get involved, since Marvel are on a kick with love interests being insensitive foils (actually, that seems to be the growing trend in books everywhere…it’s even finally happening over in Invincible)

    1. “and before I forget, congrats on being a Hugo Award Finalists.”

      Thanks! I’m incredibly grateful to the “invisible readers” out there who made that happen. I can see my WordPress stats and I know people are definitely reading my work, but unless they comment it is hard to really know what is resonating with them. This whole award process has given me a better clue as to the kind of posts my readers would like, and I will try my best to deliver on a regular basis. That is one of the reasons I started reviewing Black Panther and Daredevil.

    1. “Do you think Mockingbird is the new love interest Slott hinted or is this just misdirection and Anna Maria is the real love interest?”

      I think it makes much more sense for Mockingbird to be the love interest than Anna, although I could see Anna getting caught up in unrequited love. Perhaps she has grown to see the true hero Peter is, but for obvious reasons he does not want to go down that road. She can of course spurn Otto upon his return, which he can blame on Peter and use it to further fuel his rage.

      Let me clarify one thing, though: Just because I think it makes more sense for Peter to be involved with Mockingbird than Anna, it doesn’t mean I agree with the move.

  2. Great review Doug, my thought on this issue, I’m sad and tired of Slott on ASM because he made Spider-Man into a bad character.

    About the Mockingbird “New Love Interest” thing here is something I came across in the Crawlspace forums and I would like to hear your opinion on it:

    “Slott really does seem to think that all female characters have only one real story purpose, doesn’t he? They MUST have a man or WANT a man – preferably Peter if they aren’t related to him/too old or young for him. Even Aunt May – single for most of her widowhood – MUST have a man. Felicia really turned 3v!l because SpOck broke her nose instead of wanting her, and I bet he thinks her story motivation for continuing to be 3v!l is because deep down she MUST have a man – BUT DOESN’T. MJ ran into racially ambiguous cardboard fireman’s arms because she MUST have a man. Anna Maria MUST be involved with SpOck, and now she has her redshirt boyfriend because she MUST have a man. Silk so desperately MUST have a man, she has pheromones that guarantee it.” By Chase the Blues Away

    1. “About the Mockingbird “New Love Interest” thing here is something I came across in the Crawlspace forums and I would like to hear your opinion on it…”

      My first response is to wonder how long it will take before Dan accuses “Chase the Blues Away” of being me. Heh. He has a history of accusing critics of either being me or essentially being mind-controlled by my blog posts. 🙂

      In all seriousness, I think this reader has brought up a very astute observation. If one were to agree with the premise, then I would follow up with this question: “Why does Dan Slott seem so intent on using budding relationships as a means of introducing dramatic tension into the book?”

      My knee-jerk response would be to say: Because it’s the easiest option available. Correction: It’s seems like the easiest option available.

      This is where you start getting into what it means to be a “writer’s writer” like Bendis. It is very difficult to find ways to introduce tension into a book that has been around for decades. How does Peter Parker grow as a character when it’s basically been mandated that he stay frozen in time as a single 30-something? That is a tough job.

      Dan Slott’s run on ASM generally hinges on readers’ fascination with these sort of big “events.” Slott is an “idea” man, which is great for people who only care about seeing 1,000 Spider-Men run around the page during Spider-Verse — but heartburn-inducing for anyone who is looking for Peter to grow and mature as a man.

      What you get now in ASM are tinctures of greatness that ultimately mean nothing because the books lacks substance. It’s all Arachno-Rockets and Spider-Submarines and stuff like that, but it isn’t about Peter Parker and what it means to be a man with great power and responsibility.

      Every handful of issues Slott will write some little speech where Spider-Man gives a plucky line or two along the lines of “one last chance” or “giving it my all” or whatever, but it’s hollow. It doesn’t ring true because everything leading up to the climax is just silly antics and fluff.

    1. “I thought Slott said he didn’t want Peter to be romantically involved with another superhero?”

      He also said with a straight face that Peter Parker wasn’t coming back from the dead. 😉

      Misdirection on Marvel’s part? I will defer to some of the regular readers who are more up on Dan’s interviews than I am.

  3. When Slott said special it could mean Anna Maria as well as Mockingbird. While Mockingbird has powers Anna Maria has a physical disability, which can be just a special as having powers.

    1. Actually, Otto (inside Living Brain) was also ogling Peter: “Whirr-Click-ick. Your body was — is — perfect. Quick to heal. Powerful. The ultimate vessel.”

      Peter had to tell both of them to “focus” on the mission. Just a tad creepy… Haha! 🙂

  4. Thanks for responding Doug. I agree with the aspect that Slott is using the easiest way to introduce drama into the book. I ask you what is the big problem with Peter dating Mary Jane or Felicia Hardy?

    In my opinion, Slott is basically trying to favor anything that he creates and s**t on anything anyone else created, for him to leave a lasting impact on the book so that he can be remembered for something in the book besides Superior, in which I wonder, in 20 years or so, when people look back and read Superior, will they ask “What was the point of Superior?”.

    But now my final question of the day would be: What can Slott do to surprise you in the book at this point?

    1. “What is the big problem with Peter dating Mary Jane or Felicia Hardy?”

      We know how the editors feel about MJ. Marvel is still weirdly sticking to its guns on them not being together because that road ultimately leads to marriage.

      My guess with Felicia is they also feel that is a dead-end road because both characters have grown in different directions over the years. I enjoyed that era of Spider-Man when I was younger, but to me it would just feel like trying to reignite a relationship with an old girlfriend when you both know you just weren’t meant to be together. With MJ it just feels like they are meant to be together and no editorial mandate can take that away. No matter how much they try, fans know that Peter and MJ belong together in the end.

      “In my opinion, Slott is basically trying to favor anything that he creates and s**t on anything anyone else created, for him to leave a lasting impact on the book so that he can be remembered for something in the book besides Superior. I wonder, in 20 years or so, when people look back and read Superior, will they ask ‘What was the point of Superior?’.”

      In general I saw nothing wrong with the idea of a temporary body-switch. My problem was they way in which the story was executed (no pun intended), and the duration of the story — well over one year. I will note that in February 2013 I called Superior Spider-Man a rip-off of Freaky Friday and then in September — 7 months later — “The Big Bang Theory” made the exact same joke and Dan Slott feigned delight.

      My point in mentioning that past bit of commentary is that having an occasional “body-switch” story is fine, but it’s been done 1,000 times before and not something that should be carried out over 15 months. I think readers 20 years from now will just say, “Really? They dedicated that much ASM real estate to a cheesy body-switcheroo tale? That’s kind of gimmicky, don’t you think?”

      “But now my final question of the day would be: What can Slott do to surprise you in the book at this point?”

      Well, given that the Arachno-Rockets prediction was on the money, the pressure is on! Haha!

      Do you know what he could do that would surprise me? He could write a tale that brings a tear to my eye. He could write something that would make me close the book, put it on my nightstand and say to my wife, “This…this is Spider-Man.”

      Let us hope that prediction comes true. If it does, then I promise I will write about it.

    2. “With MJ it just feels like they are meant to be together and no editorial mandate can take that away. No matter how much they try, fans know that Peter and MJ belong together in the end”

      And the thing, they’re still together courtesy of the daily strip. No matter if Gwen comes back for good in “Dead No More” and Peter the love rat bounces from Lian to Mockingbird to Anna Marie etc, the simple fact the marriage still has a 29 year streak going for it somewhere courtesy of Stan and his crew’s stubborness means editorial have a steep hill to climb, and we all know their efforts all lead downhill.

  5. Y’know I just realized something. In that interview Slott said we would start seeing sparks between Spidey and someone else soon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll actually become a couple. It may very well go no further than romantic or sexual tension. And I could be mistaken, but I think Spidey and Mockinbird are handled by 2 completely different editorial teams, which would probably make an actual relationship between them too complicated.

    And honestly I sometimes suspect that Slott and his crew have finally come to the realization that trying to pair Spidey off with somebody who isn’t MJ is nothing more than an exercise in futility, which could be why he put absolutely no effort into the relationship between Peter and whatshername who tried to kill him. Then again, could just be wishful thinking on my part.

    1. “I sometimes suspect that Slott and his crew have finally come to the realization that trying to pair Spidey off with somebody who isn’t MJ is nothing more than an exercise in futility, which could be why he put absolutely no effort into the relationship between Peter and whatshername who tried to kill him. Then again, could just be wishful thinking on my part.”

      In many ways it is an exercise in futility because everyone knows Peter’s and MJ’s marriage was ended in a totally bogus manner. There were legitimate ways the two of them could have been separated, but Marvel went with one of the most embarrassing options ever devised. Marvel pulled the rug out from under its own long-time readers and no one is ever going to forget it.

      If Marvel had properly ended the union between Peter and MJ, then it would be realistically possible for him to enter into new relationships (with fans always holding out hope that he and MJ would eventually reconcile). The Mephisto “magic” now hangs over ever single relationship like a brown-ish, yellow-ish, sulfuric-acid cloud. It would take a really skilled writer to overcome that and get fans to embrace “the new girl.”

      I think the way Slott handled Lian Tang is probably a good part due to the MJ conundrum, but also because he is just not good at developing romantic relationships between characters.

      I just think it’s quite humorous that readers were supposed to believe that in less than one year Peter mastered Mandarin, became “very” close with Ms. Tang, ran his business, developed Arachno-Rockets, etc. How convenient that all of this happened during a span of time not covered in ASM…

  6. I hate the Joss Whedon-esque overly pop-cultural dialogue Slott writes for Spider-Man. It was pretty bad this time. I don’t know why, but it just feels completely wrong to me; I just can’t see that character as Spider-Man. It’s honestly far more appropriate for Deadpool than Spider-Man — just imagine that line you complained about coming from Deadpool and then it seems fine.

    I guess we’re just going to go with “Superior was pointless” now, huh? Doc Ock is just going to be the same as he was, having learned nothing? Way to destroy the only somewhat interesting thing you did, Dan.

    I mean, if you want tension, think about how interesting Doc Ock is to us now! We don’t know who he is anymore. Is this the original or the one changed by his experiences as Spider-Ock? If the latter, who is he now? What are his motivations? You could take him in a pretty interesting Venom-style anti-hero direction from here, or even make him a hero. You could have a copy of the original and the Spider-Ock version duke it out eventually. So many possibilities, but Slott has so far presented by far the least interesting one you can think of, Ock as a standard villain again, having apparently not grown or changed at all from his Spider-Ock experiences. Ugh.

    Congrats on the Hugo nomination!

    1. “I hate the Joss Whedon-esque overly pop-cultural dialogue Slott writes for Spider-Man. It was pretty bad this time. I don’t know why, but it just feels completely wrong to me; I just can’t see that character as Spider-Man.”

      It feels wrong to you because you’re smart enough to know that too much of that junk will not help the book age well. Some reader will open the book 10 years from now and say, “Miley Cyrus jokes? Who is that? Why is that funny?”

      There really is art to Spider-Man humor. You need someone who is a keen observer of human nature writing Spidey because he or she will be able to tease out humor that will bring a smile to someone’s face no matter what year the book viewed.

      “I guess we’re just going to go with ‘Superior was pointless’ now, huh? Doc Ock is just going to be the same as he was, having learned nothing? Way to destroy the only somewhat interesting thing you did, Dan. … So many possibilities, but Slott has so far presented by far the least interesting one you can think of, Ock as a standard villain again, having apparently not grown or changed at all from his Spider-Ock experiences. Ugh.”

      Remember, we’re talking about the same writer who killed Peter Parker off and then when the character was resurrected he spent zero time reflecting on the experience. In many ways Peter Parker acts like he has the memory and self-awareness of a goldfish. It’s sad.

      “Congrats on the Hugo nomination!”

      Thanks, man. I appreciate it. It’s been pretty cool to see the blog grow over the years, particularly since I have to do it in my spare time. It will be interesting to see how things go when I’m finally able to devote the kind of resources I would like to the blog on a regular basis.

  7. I read the above panels, where he pushes the Scorpio guy into the energy field, as a way for Slott to say through his dialogue: “ugh, sorry this arc sucked and I spent about 8 issues on these very non-Spidey type villains; but hey, Norman Osborn is still out there! And Otto, I’m gonna do something with him too! Heroes fighting heroes–I know y’all love that Civil War s**t! And there’s–uh there’s the Regent also.”

    1. “I read the above panels, where he pushes the Scorpio guy into the energy field, as a way for Slott to say through his dialogue: ‘ugh, sorry this arc sucked and I spent about 8 issues on these very non-Spidey type villains; but hey, Norman Osborn is still out there! And Otto, I’m gonna do something with him too! Heroes fighting heroes–I know y’all love that Civil War s**t! And there’s–uh there’s the Regent also.'”

      What I find really bizarre are the people who essentially forgive poor storytelling now because they hope the stuff that is teased for six months down the line delivers. “We spent months with this lame villain Scorpio, crab-head and the other lackeys…but Otto will be back! Maybe it will be good!”

      There’s always an excuse. Just call a spade a spade. The last 11 issues of ASM were largely forgettable. Period. Maybe Otto’s return will be cool. I hope it is, but that doesn’t change the quality fans are getting right now.

  8. The “Power Play” previews left me feeling numb…apparently the very sight of MJ, the woman who’s love motivated Peter to burst out of a grave and deal with one existential crisis after another, makes him squirm and nervously choke up in dinner party speeches. So much for the good will of Renew Your Vows. At least the more reliable and commited daily strip MJ ought to provide me with some entertainment next week

    1. I’ll be the one to defend Slott on this matter, I don’t like it but there you go, Peter could actually be feeling betrayed or angry at Mary Jane because, remember, the reason why she left him by himself after he came back to life in the finale of Superior Spider-Man was because the superhero life was too much for her and being with Peter would make her a target.
      Peter “understood”.
      However Peter finds out that she is now working for a super hero, with an exposed identety, making working for him could make her a target and put her life in danger, and said superhero is Tony Stark, Peter’s rival in the business and the man who nearly destroyed his life and Mary Jane’s during and after Civil War Event.
      So yeah I do “hope” that Peter call her out on her hypocresy and BS.

    2. I hope you’re right. The preview pages seemed to show Peter was still feeling guilty over how he had “screwed everything up between them”

      And let’s not forget that the events of Superior isn’t really how MJ would act anyway, it’s the effects of an altered state of mind brought on by devil magic, the one-above-all assured Peter before the devil deal that she and Peter would survive every outcome and have a family, so if all stories counted from that point forward, she’d have never left him in the lurch even if Superior Spider-Man’s developments had came and went.

  9. Stillanerd’s review is up and, quite honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him this annoyed at an issue of ASM. As usual, he exposes flaws like a skilled surgeon. The reference to “A Christmas Story” is perfect.

    “Slott might as well have just said, ‘I know you don’t care about any of this Zodiac stuff, kids, and I’m sorry for wasting all your time and money. But don’t worry, these next couple of stories will be awesome!” I’m just surprised the various Zodiac symbols over the door to the future wasn’t also some coded message spelling out ‘Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.'”

    And then there’s this:

    “Come to think of it, Slott also used that same “doorway to tomorrow” to catapult SpOck into the future of 2099 during Superior Spider-Man #19. Then he had another, albeit different, time doorway in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #15 for the “Spider-Verse” epilogue, too. And wasn’t there something involving time travel way back during the events of Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #658 – #660 when Spidey team-up with the Future Foundation to find the cause of some rifts in the space-time continuum? Might as well have Parker Industries build themselves a time machine out of a British police box circa 1963 if Slott keeps this up.”

    Boom!

    Seriously. Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.

    1. Slott is a Doctor Who fanboy and Silver Surfer critics often like to point out the book reads like something straight out of a Steve Moffat penned episode…so this probably rings a lot more true than it would.

    2. “Slott is a Doctor Who fanboy and Silver Surfer critics often like to point out the book reads like something straight out of a Steve Moffat penned episode…so this probably rings a lot more true than it would.”

      I’ve also pointed out the similarities between Slott’s Silver Surfer and “Doctor Who.” I’m surprised he’s never received an e-mail from the BBC asking him to tweak the premise a bit so it doesn’t resemble Doctor Who.

      I like Doctor Who, too, but for the life of me I can’t stand Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. He’s the worse Doctor since Sylvester McCoy in the 1980s.

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