AG Julio

It’s a tough time to be a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man. Readers regularly must to deal with things like Dan Slott turing the wall-crawler into a living spider-meteor, or telling audiences that Peter Parker’s love for Mary Jane is “anti-Marvel.”  There seems to be no end in sight. The past year has added insult to injury with the addition of Jose Molina’s “Amazing Grace” storyline, which has finally ended with “Part Six: Lead Me Home.”

For those who have not paid attention since the beginning, here is a quick recap:

  • Peter Parker, The Amazing Atheist (on Molina’s watch) becomes obsessed with Julio Manuel Rodriguez. The mystery man died of cancer, returned from the dead, and seemingly performs miracles with his new lease on life.
  • Spider-Man and the Santerians (Julio’s friends) plan to track him down and reveal the truth.
  • Iron Man tells the group that Rodriguez is drawing power from a portal to the spirit world that is located in Harlem.
  • A “showdown” in the city is announced.

ASM 1.6 concludes with the group realizing that a demon has taken up shop in Julio’s body and will draw power from  it until the two are separated. Iron Man informs the group that a gate to the spirit world is opening that must be closed before all hell literally breaks loose.

Uncle Ben’s spirit returns once more to give his atheist nephew some advice about life, death and the nature of God — but the hero wants none of it.

“Unsubscribe,” Peter says before swinging into the fight.

Amazing Grace SpiderMan

AG1.6

 

One of the Santerians eventually break’s Julio’s neck, which causes the portal to close and the demons to disappear. Spider-Man is livid and scolds the team after Julio’s (second) funeral: “Julio was not to be harmed! There’s always another way!”

The fact of the matter is that there is not always another way. As the kids point out to the veteran superhero, “We had 30 seconds before that monster got loose in our world.”

Would it have been nice to have a priest on hand to perform an exorcist? Sure. Would it have been a good idea to call Dr. Strange for some help along the way? Of course. But that didn’t happen, and the Santerians did the best they could in a bad situation.

Peter mocks the group for believing Julio is in a better place, and they shoot back: “After everything you’ve seen…why can’t you?

The story ends with Peter walking into a church and asking a priest to talk.

PeterParker Priest

The most disappointing thing about “Amazing Grace” is that it had a lot of potential and guys like me should have loved it.

  • Jose Molina is the first writer to seriously address spiritual issues in ASM in years.
  • “Spirit Uncle Ben,” or whatever you want to call him, actually makes some interesting points.
  • Peter Parker goes to a priest — for advice. (Marvel won’t even allow Matt Murdock into a church these days unless its on Netflix.)
  • The Santerians understand a grim reality that law enforcement personnel and soldiers all over the world are all too familiar with: Sometimes a life needs to be taken to save life.

The problem for Mr. Molina, however, is that Peter Parker should have never been portrayed as a militant atheist to begin with. He would have never blamed God for Uncle Ben’s death because he blames himself. Spider-Man was born out of the guilt that Peter felt over Ben’s murder.

I cannot cheer this particular scene, which respectfully broaches issues of faith, because the writer needed to warp Peter Parker’s origin to make it happen.

I hope Mr. Molina learns from this experience and goes on to write some solid comic books down the line, but someone needs a verbal beatdown for putting him on ASM before he was ready. The book was a disaster from start to finish.

Related:

Molina’s Amazing Spider-Man 1.5: Car crash scene a perfect metaphor for story

Molina’s Spider-Atheist: God ‘a lie’ because Uncle Ben died

Molina’s Amazing Spider-Atheist makes mockery of Peter Parker’s history

Molina’s Spider-Man: ‘Amazing Grace’ a sloppy mess

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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.

9 comments

  1. It’s a pity that Slott’s run on Spider-Man isn’t over yet. I almost wish John Byrne would come back to comics and do a back-to-basics approach to the book, like he did with “Fantastic Four” in the 1980s.

  2. I get what you are trying to say but John Byrne is a terrible choice he and Howard Mackie trashed Spider-Man in the 90’s with a “back to basics” approach it was the worst era in Spider-Man’s pre-OMD history.

    1. “I get what you are trying to say but John Byrne is a terrible choice he and Howard Mackie trashed Spider-Man in the 90’s with a “back to basics” approach it was the worst era in Spider-Man’s pre-OMD history.”

      I can’t lie: That era was pretty bad. I was living in Germany at the time and remember going to my mailbox to get ASM. I just shook my head with almost every issued and asked, “What happened to you, Marvel?” I wasn’t happy with ASM until Straczynski came aboard. I have my issues with him, too…but overall he did a good job.

  3. Stracynski’s stories were too mystical/horror skewed, and he couldn’t invent a good bad-guy to save his life, but his dialogue and character-building skills make Slott sound like a fifth-grader.

    1. “Stracynski’s stories were too mystical/horror skewed, and he couldn’t invent a good bad-guy to save his life, but his dialogue and character-building skills make Slott sound like a fifth-grader.”

      I enjoyed seeing more Dr. Strange in ASM, but then Stracynski went overboard with the “spider-totem” junk. His character development and dialogue was, as you point out, head and shoulders above Slott’s work.

  4. I’d forgotten this series existed, it took ages to wrap up.

    Peter tackling the spiritual has been handled more tactfully in masterpieces like “Soul of the Hunter” the often under-looked epilogue to “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, where Peter and Mary Jane share several moments trying to analyse the way we feel about death and what happens when it occurs in front of you. Of course, bringing up stories like that means bringing up that “anti-marvel” love story and that is never an option for post-OMD Peter.

    Still, I hope that with the advent of the Renew Your Vows sequel by Conway and Stegman, a reprieve from our current ills is forthcoming.

  5. “Peter Parker goes to a priest — for advice”

    You where saying that Peter came to the priest for some advice about the meaning of and reasons about death and God’s ways, so that he could get his faith resolved and then changed his mind about God and anything supernatural?

    Either way, I really, really, really hope that this POS mini-series should be decanonized from the main 616 Spider-Man series, since nothing follows logically that Spider-Man has spend time with God literally in person, (and yes other people have seen him before along with Peter) prayed for some times without any scorning on God at all, dealt with a devil/demon, and encounter other supernatural stuff than just natural science itself for gosh sakes.

    I do hope that this story did end up with Peter becoming a Christian again and comes close to God again, but still, this story is like someone just wrote this while they did drugs/get high. This mini-series is still abysmal, even if it did end up with Peter coming to the priest to talk and understand more about his faith.

    1. “You where saying that Peter came to the priest for some advice about the meaning of and reasons about death and God’s ways, so that he could get his faith resolved and then changed his mind about God and anything supernatural?”

      Correct. Although, as was said before, its portrayed as a big step for him when everyone knows he wasn’t a militant atheist to begin with. That was the author’s denial of continuity.

      “Either way, I really, really, really hope that this POS mini-series should be decanonized from the main 616 Spider-Man series, since nothing follows logically that Spider-Man has spend time with God literally in person, (and yes other people have seen him before along with Peter) prayed for some times without any scorning on God at all, dealt with a devil/demon, and encounter other supernatural stuff than just natural science itself for gosh sakes.”

      The trade paperback of this just came out and I had to laugh. I don’t think anyone takes this seriously. I almost hope someone cites this book in a future debate so I could have a big laugh.

      “I do hope that this story did end up with Peter becoming a Christian again and comes close to God again, but still, this story is like someone just wrote this while they did drugs/get high. This mini-series is still abysmal, even if it did end up with Peter coming to the priest to talk and understand more about his faith.”

      It’s definitely written by someone who didn’t do their homework and reviewed by a poorly performing editor.

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