Marvel has big plans for The Amazing Spider-Man in the months ahead, and it appears as though the executive decision was made to make its 16th issue — Before Dead No More — a must-read. Writer Dan Slott packs the issue with important plot points and, in general, does a decent job organizing it all on the page.
As has been established many times before, Mr. Slott is a good stage-setter. Whether he can follow it through over the course of “Dead No More,” the obligatory After Dead No More, and Dead No More — No More remains to be seen.
Here is what you need to know for ASM #16:
- Jay Jameson is surrounded in the hospital by friends and family with a mysterious illness when Dr. Clarkson from New U Technologies offers him a chance to take part in a “cutting edge” procedure. Peter Parker asks the doctor for details after Jonah flies of the handle.
- An explosion takes place in Edmond, Oklahoma, at a Parker Industries chemical plant. Peter diverts his private jet, which was heading to San Francisco, back to Oklahoma.
- Spider-Man (now with thermal imaging in his eye pieces) arrives on a spider-cycle and saves five of six people trapped inside in one fell swoop. He then rescues the sixth, Jerry Salteres, but the man is hospitalized after breathing in toxic fumes.
- Peter Parker tells his suit to go into “Stealth Mode One” (Any guesses on how many stealth modes it’s capable of entering?), and contacts Dr. Clarkson. He requests New U come to Oklahoma and perform a life-saving procedure on Mr. Salteres.
- Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, privately says the explosion at Parker Industries wasn’t part of his plans but tells the doctor to give Peter “a taste of how the magic works.”
- Peter’s spider-sense goes off after Mr. Salteres’ life is saved the New U operation.
- Living Brain, aka Doctor Octopus, catches wind of how New U’s ability to grow healthy organs from a patient’s DNA and calls the technology “very promising.”
- Electro agrees to Warren’s procedure after “Francine” is brought back from the dead.
- Jonah secretly meets with New U and asks about its technology. His deceased wife Marla then walks through a doorway.
In short, ASM #16 is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Before Dead No More is probably the best issue of ASM in many months because its function only requires Dan Slott to whet the reader’s appetite. Any one of the plot threads are likely to intrigue potential customers, which is great for Marvel, but Mr. Slott’s track record in terms of delivering a fully fleshed-out story is much more problematic.
Take, for instance, the way Mr. Slott portrays Peter Parker. Years ago the hero was weirdly obsessed with the idea that “no one dies.” That mantra led him to behave in strange and irrational ways when he had to balance immediate threats to his front with global crises.
In this issue, Peter again seems monomaniacally focused on death — so much so that he embraces an experimental procedure that he knows will come with a heavy “price.” Dr. Clarkson even told him “some find the cost can be…too high.”
Does Peter Parker even ask Dr. Clarkson what that non-monetary “price” is before approving the operation on his employee? Answer: No. He just screams, “We have to move NOW!”
Long-time readers can debate whether or not Peter would dive right in to a dangerous and nascent technology over an accident at one of his power plants, but this blogger thinks his behavior is unstable and rash — the kind of thing Doctor Octopus would do as the Superior Spider-Man.
The good news is that ASM#16 is worth its $3.99 cover price. The bad news is that there are warning signs that Dan Slott is already setting up Peter Parker for another round of character assassination.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Editor’s Note: Anime Hunter mentioned to me earlier today that editor Nick Lowe took part in a “secret meeting” on Spider-Man, as referenced in the Letters to the Editor section of the book. That might be another tidbit worth discussing.