The introduction to the 12th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man informs readers that Peter Parker has returned to New York City to “breathe a sigh of relief” after his recent showdown with the Zodiac terrorist organization. Indeed, writer Dan Slott then goes on to provide a palate-cleanser in the form of an old-school team-up between Spider-Man and Iron Man. It’s generally a fun tale that includes the return of Mary Jane, plenty of action and humor, and set-ups for Marvel’s Civil War II and the return of Regent. Mr. Slott’s fundamental misunderstanding of who Peter Parker is, however, needlessly produces a character who is socially impotent and politically aligned with his adversary.
The story goes as follows:
- Parker Industries is hosting a black tie event to raise money for the Uncle Ben Foundation.
- Tony Stark and his personal assistant, Mary Jane, are in attendance.
- Augustus Roman (aka, Regent) of Empire Unlimited shows up.
- Corporate saboteur “Ghost” crashes the party.
- Spider-Man and Iron Man team up to save the day.
- Roman’s facility for super-powered criminals, The Cellar, is introduced.
If you are the type of reader who mindlessly consumes comic books like I devour chocolate-covered raisins before a big-budget movie, then stop reading now and buy ASM #12.
If you are the type of reader who wonders why Peter Parker so often does not seem right under Mr. Slott’s direction, then read on. You may want to save that $4.00 for another book — perhaps the next issue of Charles Soule’s Daredevil.
ASM #12 demonstrates from the very first panel that Dan Slott does not know how to strip his own politics from the book to provide a superior (no pun intended) product.
If you, dear reader, were to become the CEO of a major company, then you would have no problem buying a nice tuxedo for black tie events. If attending charity fundraisers was a recurring obligation you had as CEO of “Successful Business Dude Inc.,” then taking time out of your schedule to rent and return cheap suits would be bizarre.
Dan Slott’s Peter Parker, however, embraces the bizarre and as a result becomes, for all intents and purposes, politically aligned with corporate saboteur Ghost.
Only moments before Ghost attacks his fundraiser, Parker equates buying cheap suits with doing business “right.” Instead of being a CEO who finds a proper balance between thriving in a cutthroat industry and giving back to local communities, he possesses a mentality that is one step removed from the villain calling him a “fat cat” member of “the one percent.”
In short, Peter Parker can be a CEO without becoming self-loathing about it. I suggest Dan Slott read up on Tony Robbins if he wants a good blueprint for how to write about business and finance.
Finally, one cannot talk about ASM #12 without covering the return of MJ.
“I can face Doctor Doom or the Juggernaut. Easy,” says Peter Parker. “But knowing you’re right there, MJ … and with Tony Stark? Everything’s wrong. It shouldn’t be like this,” (emphasis added).
Indeed, long-time fans of ASM would concur that MJ locking arms with Tony Stark at a party is wrong. Likewise, seeing Stark cradle her head while asking if she is okay during an attack feels gross. Dan’s Slott’s decision is to have Peter react to the meeting by a.) first freezing up at the podium, and then b.) calling Pepper Potts and offering her a job at Parker Industries. She rejects the offer without hesitation.
Question: Is that really how Peter would react?
Answer: He would obviously be upset at seeing MJ with another man, but it seems sad and unacceptable to have him respond with a kind of impotence and immaturity that would signal she is better off with Stark.
One shudders to think of the indignities to come as Marvel writers explore the professional (as of now) relationship between MJ and Tony.