Marvel scribe Dan Slott hit a home run with 2015’s Renew Your Vows, but the feat happened despite the creation of a lame villain — Regent. ASM #14 attempts to once again elevate the character into upper echelons of evil, but one cannot help but think of the old line about putting “lipstick on a pig” while reading. Giuseppe Camuncoli puts forth a worthy effort to make the character look cool in costume (don’t ask about supporting cast), but readers care more about the side-stories than the main event.
Here is what you need to know about ASM #14.
- Ms. Marvel, Nova, Captain America, Vision, and She-Thor are all captured by Regent.
- Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and MJ tell Miles Morales’ parents that their son (also taken hostage) won a science contest, but is safe … somewhere … with no internet access … on purpose. (Note: This kind of idea only worked in Captain America: Civil War because Peter Parker wasn’t missing.)
- MJ tells Peter, “You have no idea how glad I am to have all of this ‘secret identity’ nonsense out of my life. Tony’s not perfect, but with him everything is out in the open.” (Don’t tell Dan Slott, but that is 180 degrees from the truth — Bendis’ Tony Stark disappears for weeks at a time for undercover missions, and no-one knows if he’s dead or alive.)
- Aunt May coughs up blood and keeps it from her husband.
OsbornLyman calls for a meeting with Augustus Roman and reveals that he knows the businessman is Regent. Harry says he knows Betty Brant was kidnapped, and then uses webware to warn Spider-Man that he is in danger.
- Spider-Man and Iron Man are crushed by Regent, whose suit was pushed to its limit.
Even if one were to take the position that Regent is an exciting new character, it doesn’t change the fact that readers are getting a rehashed version of Renew Your Vows less than one year after its publication. At least when Marvel does something as tired and worn out as Aunt May dying…the company waits a few years before hitting the “recycle” button. This is like a rerun of your favorite television show after the first three episodes of its new season.
As is often the case with Mr. Slott’s work, there are a lot of pieces shuffled around the chessboard while ultimately not a whole lot goes on. The story bounces from setup to setup (You’re going to love how this comes together in Dead No More, kids!) while ignoring the attention to detail that makes single issues soar.
For instance, Regent dispatches with heavy-hitting heroes like Vision and Captain America in a single panel. He battles She-Thor in what is teased as an epic clash, only to show her captured in an energy bubble two pages later. It’s jarring. It’s strange, and it just isn’t enough for a relatively new character who is met with indifference by most fans.
If you are the kind of Marvel fan who has collected ASM since 1975 and don’t want to break up your complete set, then make sure to head on out to your local comic book shop this week. For everyone else, I suggest waiting until the reviews for Dead No More are published before you consider opening up your wallets.