Mary Jane Iron Spider

It is a good bet that when Marvel writer Dan Slott was a kid that he was the one who always changed the rules of whatever game he was playing with friends. The Amazing Spider-Man #15 is a perfect example of a story crumbling into a schizophrenic mess because the writer altered established realities to get to a desired end.

Readers last left their beloved web-slinger knowing that he and Iron Man were defeated at the hands of Regent. The same villain who defeated a god — She-Thor — Vision, Wolverine, Captain America, Daredevil, Deadpool, Human Torch and countless other superheroes (and villains), also took down Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Regent has been established as a force to be reckoned with, right? Keep that in mind as we move forward with this review.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #15:

  • The Avengers are defeated. Heroes everywhere are missing. Regent is on the brink of victory.
  • Mary Jane decides to suit up in Peter’s old “Iron Spider” costume because … she once wore an old Iron Man suit and temporarily had spider-powers. Her plan is to take on Regent by herself.
  • Harry Osborn Lyman, captured and contained in one of Regent’s holding tanks, uses new Webware technology that he “just had Clayton [install]” (how convenient) to escape. Sound waves from Harry’s glorified iWatch shatter glass that can hold She-Thor.
  • Peter, encased in a bubble, distracts Regent so Iron Spider-MJ can sucker punch him. The distraction bursts his psychic bubbles and the previously defeated and fatigued Spider-Man springs into action. The three have a déjà vu moment.
  • Spider-Man leaves to save Harry while M.J. and Iron Man continue to fight.
  • Miles Morales is freed and his instant-win venom blast takes out Dr. Stillwell.

Miles Morales ASM 15

  • An army of superheroes are released and Regent acknowledges defeat. He is then confined within his own prison.
  • MJ, Tony, and Jarvis have a private party with champagne (Tony, understandably, does not drink).
  • Peter, the billionaire CEO of Parker Industries, throws a party for his friends … at a coffee shop. Bobbi Morse is introduced to Aunt May and Jay Jameson collapses after coughing up blood.

ASM #15 fails because Dan Slott sets precedents and then disregards them when it suits his needs. He pens stories for an older-skewing audience, but then expects the average reader to accept deviations from established rules like a child.

Regent SheThor

To add insult to injury, fans of the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane are punched in the gut at least twice.

  1. Spider-Man tells Tony: “[Peter] only realized he’d lost MJ after she moved on. You better not make the same mistake.”
  2. Peter essentially introduces Mockingbird to Aunt May as his new girlfriend (Whatever happened to the girlfriend who tried to murder him?)

The fact of the matter is not that Mary Jane “moved on” — it’s that Marvel’s editors and Dan Slott are telling readers to move on.

The message is clear: “Stop spitting up Tom Brevoort’s medicine. Take it. The beatings will continue until morale improves!”

If you want to see some stunning cover art by Alex Ross, then make sure to buy ASM #15.

If you don’t require a writer to stick to his own set of rules as long as characters are punching each other and “zany” hijinks ensue, then buy ASM #15.

If, however, you expect writers to offer creative cohesion and linear logic, which can easily be traced to acceptable premises, then you might want to read Charles Soule’s Daredevil instead.

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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.

36 comments

  1. Well said Douglas as matter of fact to me the whole point of Power Play was really about showing Mary Jane and Peter have moved on and that they no longer need each other. Talk about stupid, Slott wasted the perfect opportunity to set things right, a lot of opportunities.

    I mean not once in the whole thing, did they just sit and have an actual talk about the things between them. As I said a wasted opportunity.

    1. “I mean not once in the whole thing, did they just sit and have an actual talk about the things between them. As I said a wasted opportunity.”

      They didn’t sit down and have an adult conversation because that would require Dan Slott to write…and adult conversation between two people of the opposite sex. 😉 Seriously.

      Think about it. If you see a man and a woman in the same panel, then (and this is just off the top of my head), the probability is high that you will get a.) the woman saying something “sassy” because no one is going to complain about “girl power!” dialogue, b.) playful banter, or c.) something completely innocuous that only serves to get from Point A to Point B.

    2. Unfortunately with Slott I fear your’re right. but I have seen it happen, can’t recall where but I now there are panels where people of the opposite sex have an adult conversation really do exist.

      It’s just a shame that we would have to wait for a writer of higher calibre to give us and maybe fix what Slott broke.

  2. I don’t think that Dan Slott and the editors are telling the readers to move on from Peter and MJ.

    I mean, if they did, it’s a pretty complicated way of doing it, especially after re-igniting them by publishing Renew Your Vows in the first place.

    If the creators truly wanted the pair to never be regarded together again, then why even bother with Renew Your Vows at all? Why publish it if they know it’s going to start things up again.

    Really, this is just to reestablish a dynamic between Peter and MJ that was already established at the end of Superior, but since it had been two years, best remind the customer base. Especially after getting excited about Renew Your Vows. It was to keep Peter and MJ present in the fan’s minds, but to also establish that their is a divide between them.

    It’s the same as the end of Peter Parker: Paparazzi. In fact, it’s the exact same scenario as Peter Parker: Paparazzi. Peter and MJ teamed up to take down a common foe, to show “Oh, look how good they work together” only to go their separate ways in the end, and for Peter to take comfort in his friends.

    That way it gets people wondering “Oh, no, will Peter and MJ ever get back together? They seem so far apart!”

    Now, in the hands of a competent writer, this could be quite compelling. And they would even offer a glimmer of hope of reconciliation between the pair, to show that a reunion is not impossible.

    But since this is Slott, we don’t get that. We just get a rehash of an earlier stories, copied and pasted together as a substitute for a full story.

    I fully expect MJ to be back in the book at some point. But not till at least early 2017.

    Still, MJ- and the many fans who have shown to be out there, who actually have considerable buying power- deserved a whole hell of a lot better than this garbage.

    1. “I don’t think that Dan Slott and the editors are telling the readers to move on from Peter and MJ. I mean, if they did, it’s a pretty complicated way of doing it, especially after re-igniting them by publishing Renew Your Vows in the first place.”

      Dan and quite a few others who have gone through the ASM revolving door have rhetorically spit in the fans’ faces for years regarding the marriage. Heck, Dan said that one of the things Renew Your Vows showed was how they shouldn’t be together because (I’m paraphrasing), being a married man allowed Peter to “go over the edge” and kill. Once Peter crossed the Rubicon he would never be the same Spider-Man ever again. He is on board with Tom “take your medicine” Brevoort and now setting Peter up to be in a relationship with Mockingbird. That sends a crystal clear message.

      “If the creators truly wanted the pair to never be regarded together again, then why even bother with Renew Your Vows at all? Why publish it if they know it’s going to start things up again.”

      1. See my first response. 2. Remember: You’re dealing with Dan “monkey paw” Slott. They need to string readers along, even if they have no intention reigniting the romance between Peter and MJ. I think “never” is not a good word to use in comics, but it seems safe to say that Peter and MJ aren’t going to be getting serious anytime soon.

      “Now, in the hands of a competent writer, this could be quite compelling. And they would even offer a glimmer of hope of reconciliation between the pair, to show that a reunion is not impossible. But since this is Slott, we don’t get that. We just get a rehash of an earlier stories, copied and pasted together as a substitute for a full story.”

      There is a lot of truth here. I agree.

      “I fully expect MJ to be back in the book at some point. But not till at least early 2017.”

      Yes — at some point. I think 2017 is a very generous estimate. The only reason why MJ is being used is because Bendis wanted to write the character. He asked Dan at one of their retreats and when he got the green light he ran with it. Bendis’ decision forces Dan to use her more than he otherwise would.

      “Still, MJ- and the many fans who have shown to be out there, who actually have considerable buying power- deserved a whole hell of a lot better than this garbage.”

      Agreed.

    1. “Looks like we may be in for a Spidey/Mockingbird romance. Now Peter is bringing Bobbie in his personal life.”

      Ugh. Honestly, Dan needs to just quietly admit to himself that he is lost when it comes to writing adult relationships between men and women. I don’t know why that is the case and I really don’t want to ruminate on it too much, but that’s the honest truth. Everything he writes when it comes to male/female interactions is stilted and awkward.

      His characters always exist in some sort of elementary school-like “make fun of the girl I like with bad jokes” head space. They never really move beyond that. You’re just supposed to accept that they’re “serious” because Dan said so. Well, it doesn’t work like that, Mr. Slott. Sorry.

  3. I have no faith in a Peter and Bobbi relationship. They’ll be together for a year or 2 then break up. There seemingly is a rule against long-lasting relationships at Marvel.

    1. What I find amusing about the apparent shipping between Spider-Man and Mockingbird is that it contradicts something Dan Slott once said about the problem of romantically pairing Spidey up with another fellow superhero. I believe it was right the time Slott began as the sole writer on Amazing Spider-Man after “Brand New Day” and Peter was dating Carlie Cooper. He was then asked on the old CBR forums why he wasn’t having Peter date Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, especially since Brian Reed was ship-teasing the two of them in his Carol Danvers series. Slott essentially told the poster that Peter shouldn’t hook up with other female superheroes because they’d essentially be in Spidey’s shadow and be seen as little more than a glorified sidekick, and that it was better for Peter to date ordinary women. This was the original link but, because it’s from CBR’s old forum, it’s broken now. http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?405494-Thread-Drift-Dan-Slott-explains-why-Peter-Parker-won-t-hook-up-with-a-superhero&p=14826013&viewfull=1#post14826013

  4. Here’s what I said on the Crawl Space:

    MJ’s constant flip-flopping on why she can’t be with Peter makes me think she’s just looking for excuses at this point…it fuels speculation she truly does know everything after the deal made in OMD and is going through her usual acting facade to stay clear of him, knowing that it’s impossible and that they always find a way to come back together (which she even says before the spell takes effect in OMD). I definitely don’t see this is as anything but the latest in a long string of “final says” on Peter and MJ.

    Think about it, MJ stories have dominated the summer months of 2015 and 2016, who’s to say there won’t be another one for summer 2017? Where the 30th anniversary of the marriage will be upon us? Slott won’t resist that.

    Another question is how Peter and MJ can be aware of Renew Your Vows when 616/Prime-Earth MJ was dead and Peter was a lifeboat survivor? Is it because the ANAD and RYV versions are somehow one and the same? And if that were the case, does that mean Annie May Parker exists in this world again?

    1. I think you’re giving way too much credit to Slott and Marvel. It’s a neat theory, but one I doubt is actually churning through Slott’s mind at the moment.

    2. “I think you’re giving way too much credit to Slott and Marvel.”

      Agreed. I admire zariusii’s “silver lining” approach, but I’m not seeing it in this instance.

      The public comments of guys like Dan show no evidence that they’ve been churning out seemingly weird editorial decisions as part of a brilliant master plan.

    3. I’ve always been a bit optimistic, I have little reason not to be, Marvel have never let the marriage go out of print this whole time (newspaper strip) and I’m just poking the metal detector at the bits which make it start beeping.

    4. “The public comments of guys like Dan show no evidence that they’ve been churning out seemingly weird editorial decisions as part of a brilliant master plan”

      Slott has lied in the past.

      They have a story to tell, they’re not going to outright state “this is what we’re doing”, spoil it all for you in advance, and risk under-performing (I don’t think they would if they went the route I’m thinking, but that’s just for arguments sake).

      A lot of times I’ve seen people, including you Doug, call the outcome of the story weeks ahead of their conclusion. Superior Spider-Man’s outcome was guessed correctly by many. Web Warriors outcome was guessed correctly by many. The Zodiac story and the resolution to Peter’s latest romance was called by many. I think calling this one out ahead of time, given the timing for the twin anniversaries next year and the habit of committing the summer months to MJ, is perfectly reasonable. Regardless of how long-term the plan is, I just don’t see Marvel resisting the opportunity to exploit those critical of OMD and who love the marriage in 2017.

      I do think Slott has a plan, but we all know he just doesn’t map it out very well and he has the subtly of a brick through a window.

    5. “Regardless of how long-term the plan is, I just don’t see Marvel resisting the opportunity to exploit those critical of OMD and who love the marriage in 2017.”

      Exploiting fans who love the marriage for short-term financial gain is a very different thing than earnestly brining Peter/MJ together again. It appears as if we’re talking about two different creative end-points, as well as motivations for the journey.

    6. Understood Doug, I think I got my words mixed up there (or maybe the realist in me subconsciously let that word spill instead of “tapping into what those people want”)

      Here’s more food for thought…the Mockingbird teasing with Peter has in itself a OMD connection. Prior to it being revealed it had been a Skrull all along, we were led to believe Bobbi’s soul had been claimed by who else?

      Mephisto.

      I’ll quote an MST3K line

      “If we pretend we know what’s going on, this is actually kind of exciting”

    7. “Understood Doug, I think I got my words mixed up there (or maybe the realist in me subconsciously let that word spill instead of ‘tapping into what those people want’).”

      Search your feelings, Zariussii… You know it to be true!

  5. I agree that it seems like Slott is incapable of writing mature relationships between a man and a woman. I don’t know why that it is, either, but like you said, he probably gets cues from shows he watches rather than anything from real life.

    Sounds like they’re turning Mary Jane into a Mary Sue now. So she can defeat Regent because she has the Iron Spider costume on? Why? That doesn’t make any sense at all to me. I like Mary Jane, and I want the Peter/MJ marriage to be restored (it won’t happen as long as clowns like Brevoort, Alonso and Slott are all in charge, though), but this is a bit much.

    It’s also funny how Slott claims he has a master plan, but it appears that he’s just winging it. Mind you, that can work for some writers (I personally don’t use outlines myself), but in this case, it doesn’t work and you can tell he’s just making things up as he goes.

  6. I have said this over at Craw Space: WHAT IF Slott is trying to set up Peter and Bobbi together just to make MJ jealous?

    MJ sees Peter with Bobbi and gets a little sad and jealous for losing Peter and then she realizes that she misses him and feels bad for the way she ended things with Peter. Maybe then she may even apologize for leaving him for over a year after he just came back from the dead and putting all the blame on him for another person’s mistake.

    It makes sense because Slott in a few issues back (Vol 4 #12 I believe) he made Anna Maria hug Peter just to make Bobbi jealous because Anna believes that Bobbi has feelings for Peter.

    Side Note : I don’t know about you guys but it would be interesting to see MJ to be the one to apologize and try to earn Peter’s trust and their relationship back together.

    Now this is something that I personally want to happen: Dan Slott being dragged out of Marvel headquarters and to the streets and Marvel saying “YOU’RE FIRED.” I truly can’t stand this guy anymore at ASM. Props to you Doug for having to deal with someone like that!

    PS: Me and another guy at crawlspace noticed something: MJ throughout the entire story-line was drawn really badly however I genuinely think that Slott wanted MJ to be drawn badly during the entire story line with Peter just to make her drawn better only when she is with Tony at the end of the story. The sad thing is is that would not put it past Slott to do that.

  7. “Another question is how Peter and MJ can be aware of Renew Your Vows when 616/Prime-Earth MJ was dead and Peter was a lifeboat survivor? Is it because the ANAD and RYV versions are somehow one and the same? And if that were the case, does that mean Annie May Parker exists in this world again?”

    If I understand the comics correctly (and I got this off the Marvel Wiki, so it could be wrong), they established that after “Secret Wars” ended and Battleworld was undone, the different parallel universes that had formed it survived (unless otherwise noted) and were sent off to continue on as if nothing had happened. So, for the moment, it seems like the RYV universe is still going on, we’re just not getting any new stories at the moment.

    On the other hand, I would find it plausible if Slott has a plan to revisit it or incorporate RVY into his future writing eventually in some form. Love it or hate, so far everything he’s done (in the broad strokes) seems be setting up the stuff he does next (whether he really has a master plan for his entire run, just uses his last ending as the springboard for new ideas, or some combination thereof, I don’t know). He also loves in-jokes, continuity references, so he certainly has the reputation to do it.

    Finally, if RYV comes back somehow, that would explain why its trade paperback advertised it as part of the building blocks for the post-“Secret Wars” setting. While it could’ve just been a one-off that was designed to revisit a beloved era of the series and introduce readers to a new villain, and it was grouped as such by accident, I think from past experience that Slott is very deliberate about what he does, regardless if it’s to provoke a reaction in readers (in good or bad ways) or to get to the next big thing.

  8. Stillanerd’s review for ASM #15 is now up.

    “Just like Renew Your Vows, “Power Play” utilizes one of Slott’s go-to tropes in having Spider-Man and friends going up against an extremely powerful, nigh-unstoppable villain, only for said villain to become nerfed all-of-the-sudden during the climax. […] Also, it’s another Marvel Team-Up style story in which Spider-Man, despite his powers, intellect, quick-wit, and high-tech gadgetry somehow cannot defeat the bad guy on his own unless he has help from others.”

    As always, the entire piece is worth checking out.

    1. Thanks again, Doug!

      And another thing about the whole plot point about Slott’s overuse to these tropes. It only really started becoming noticeable after the end of Superior Spider-Man and once Nick Lowe replaced Steve Wacker as the Spider-Man group editor (who was promoted to Marvel’s Animation division. I know I had my disagreements and very contentious online arguments with Wacker in the past, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Slott’s storytelling took a sharp decline after Wacker left. Same with assistant editor, Ellie Pyle, who also left editing the Spider-Man titles at the same time as Wacker and would later go on to DC. Lowe and Devin Lewis, as editors, don’t seem to know how to tighten the reins when it comes to Slott’s storytelling, which could explain a lot.

    2. “I know I had my disagreements and very contentious online arguments with Wacker in the past, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Slott’s storytelling took a sharp decline after Wacker left. Same with assistant editor, Ellie Pyle, who also left editing the Spider-Man titles at the same time as Wacker and would later go on to DC. Lowe and Devin Lewis, as editors, don’t seem to know how to tighten the reins when it comes to Slott’s storytelling, which could explain a lot.”

      There is a lot of winning go on with that comment, Mike. There aren’t many people out there who would raise that point, so I’m glad you did. I wish I knew a bit more about the “inside baseball” of editing at Marvel so I could comment with more authority, but I think the evidence clearly supports your assessment.

      Nick Lowe may subscribe to a “light touch” philosophy in terms of editing his writers, but there is a difference between “light touch” and “out to lunch.”

  9. As always a well done review on the writing of Danny boy. Dan’s (and Marvel’s) heavy handed hammering of Peter and MJ moving on was just another slap in the face to loyal ASM fans. It screamed “We’re right and you’re wrong nyah! We don’t care if OMD was our worst decision!” The only way the powers at Marvel will concede is to stop buying ASM. I heard as long as Slott continues to write, Amazing Spider-Man will be awful.

    1. “As always a well done review on the writing of Danny boy. Dan’s (and Marvel’s) heavy handed hammering of Peter and MJ moving on was just another slap in the face to loyal ASM fans. It screamed ‘We’re right and you’re wrong nyah! We don’t care if OMD was our worst decision!'”

      Stillanerd correctly mentioned in his review that Marvel’s “Nyah!” message has been delivered multiple times over the years within the pages of ASM. I’m not sure how anyone can claim otherwise, but it happens.

      “I heard as long as Slott continues to write, Amazing Spider-Man will be awful.”

      Dan’s track record on the creative front is to double down on any decision that provokes significant criticism. Nick Lowe is M.I.A. as an editor. That combination is not a recipe for strong ASM stories. I think a good editor would be able to highlight Dan’s strengths and mitigate his weaknesses. It’s unfortunate that in many ways ASM is a rudderless ship.

  10. Well I’m glad I didn’t buy this issue after the god awful last issue. I’m just gonna stick with Spidey, because even BMB is starting to feel numb and make miles bland and overpowered.

    1. “Well I’m glad I didn’t buy this issue after the god awful last issue. I’m just gonna stick with Spidey, because even BMB is starting to feel numb and make miles bland and overpowered.”

      That is a good way to put it. I think Miles has potential as a character, but it really seems like it’s going nowhere. He is definitely overpowered, too.

  11. With Spider-Man/Peter Parker being my favorite super hero of all time I wish they would just kill Peter off so I don’t have to see his character just constantly getting raped by Dan Slott and Marvel. Which is sad to say when Peter coming back in the main stream in a big way with his new reboot movie and the PS4 game that looks very promising.

    1. “With Spider-Man/Peter Parker being my favorite super hero of all time I wish they would just kill Peter off so I don’t have to see his character just constantly getting raped by Dan Slott and Marvel.”

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Spider-Zero. I appreciate it. Let me first note that your usage of that metaphor means one day Dan will likely tell someone who shares my work that readers literally think he commits sexual assault. It won’t be true, but he’ll go there anyway. Oh well.

      I agree with you on the new PS4 game. It looks awesome.

  12. It’s a sad day when the only good place you can get your Spider-Man fix is in an upcoming game (by the amazing team at Insomniac, no less) and the upcoming movie. The comics are still being handled by Slott, although sometimes we get a bit of reprieve which is like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room. And the cartoon leaves…a lot to be desired. It’s sometimes just as bad as the comic in delivering us an immature Spider-Man. Or it just mishandles the source material.

    At this point, some random fan’s fanfiction would probably be better written. That’s something of an exaggeration, yet I do know there are quite a lot of great fanfiction out there. Personally, I’m considering finally going back and getting started on purchasing some classic Spidey comics to get my fix. Although a big Spider-Man fan, I’d be glad for any specific suggestions for where to start in terms of specific runs.

    1. Well there’s also the newspaper comic, which has kept the marriage going for a decade and only had one short-term period where they tried emulating the angles in the main book before bringing back the marriage. The strip is an acquired taste and sometimes Peter is somehow even less competent than his main book counterpart (surprisingly, that’s possible), but Peter and MJ act in-character and are quite mature about his web-swinging, MJ barely complains either, in fact she enjoys it.

  13. Top 100 Comics for June 2016 is out
    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/07/10/top-100-comics-and-graphic-novels-for-june-2016-and-dc-had-15-of-the-top-20/

    1 CIVIL WAR II #1
    2 BATMAN #1
    3 BATMAN REBIRTH #1
    4 STAR WARS HAN SOLO #1
    5 CIVIL WAR II #2
    6 DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #5
    7 DARK KNIGHT RETURNS THE LAST CRUSADE #1
    8 SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
    9 WONDER WOMAN #1
    10 SUPERMAN #1

    28 CIVIL WAR II AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1

    37 DEADPOOL VS GAMBIT #1

    38 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14
    39 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13

    40 SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #6
    41 DEADPOOL #14
    42 CIVIL WAR II CHOOSING SIDES #1
    47 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10
    49 SPIDER-MAN #5
    53 ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS #10
    55 SPIDER-GWEN ANNUAL #1
    57 ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS #11
    59 SPIDER-GWEN #9
    76 GWENPOOL #3
    79 SPIDER-WOMEN OMEGA #1
    95 SILK #9
    96 CARNAGE #9
    97 SPIDER-MAN 2099 #11

  14. So ASM dropped out of the top 20.

    IO9 had an interview with Jason Aron, where they complimented him on the alleged outstanding sales of She-Thor. I went to Comichron, and found out that the current Thor ranked 52nd so far this year.

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