Marvel’s Civil War II has been a mixed bag of good ideas and poor execution, but writer Christos Gage’s work on the project has generally been a notch above his peers. Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #2, like the issue before it, highlights just how much potential he has as a writer, even if some elements of the book are rough around the edges.
Here is what you need to know for CWII: ASM 2:
- Spider-Man, tipped off by Ulysses, defeats a “quintronic man.” (The aftermath features a nice nod to Amazing Fantasy #15.)
- Clayton Cole (aka, Clash) runs into an old henchman he knows, but rebuffs an offer to talk about working with the Owl.
- Clayton eats a meal with his parents, who are seemingly rotten people. They tell their son Peter Parker is exploiting his genius, liken Clayton’s beard to a something a homeless man would sport, and say his girlfriend Donna (a single mother who works at Parker Industries as an administrative assistant), is only interested in him for his future earnings.
- Donna breaks up with Clayton just before he asks her to marry him. She is worried about what will happen when her son learns about his criminal past.
- Clayton explodes on a coworker and later becomes paranoid (with good reason) when Ulysses and Spider-Man act like gossipy high-school kids around him.
- Spider-Man catches Clayton using an experimental device that can retroactively track and record sound waves. The two have an argument and Clayton storms off.
- Mendel Stromm (aka, Robot Master), pitches a heist of Parker Industries to Clayton in a bar for henchmen. The plan is to frame Harry
- Peter tells Harry in a private meeting that he wants to make amends with Clayton, never realizing that the Tinkerer has been given a request to upgrade Mr. Cole’s “Clash” costume.
I mentioned in my first review that Mr. Gage added more intrigue to ASM in one issue than Dan Slott has in months. The good news is that Mr. Gage continues to creatively cross his ‘t’s’ and dot his ‘i’s’ in ways the head ASM scribe shows no interest in duplicating. The bad news is that as a reader it’s hard to witness Clayton’s behavior and not think, “Is Peter Parker the worst judge of character of all time?”
Consider this: Peter Parker’s ‘very close’ girlfriend tried to kill him, his inner circle lies to him and tries to work with corporate saboteurs, and his biggest investor (and secret santa) was the head of an international terrorist organization. He might want to have Doctor Strange check out that spider-sense one of these days, because it certainly doesn’t work during job interviews…
Overall, CWII: ASM #2 does a good job of getting readers to think about how hard it must be for an ex-convict to escape the long shadow of sins past. There is a nuance to Mr. Gage’s message about second chances and redemption that has always been absent from Mr. Slott’s work, and for that he should be commended.
At the end of the day, however, Mr. Cole largely comes across as an unsympathetic character due to his actions and the way artist Travel Foreman depicts his hair-trigger rage (an apology by the character afterwards does little to endear him to readers.)
The best-case scenario for Mr. Cole is that he is using inside knowledge of Mendel Stromm’s attack to his advantage — as a hero. Perhaps he will set-up the villain to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to Spider-Man and Ulysses that he is a good man. There will likely be confusion along the way — a brief fight with Spider-Man, which technically will prove Ulysses was correct — but in the end Spider-Man and “Clash” will work together to take down Robot Master.
What did you think of CWII: ASM #2? Do you think “Clash” will be back to his villainous ways, or will he redeem himself by double-crossing Robot Master? Let me know in the comments section below.
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