Dan Slott’s ‘Dead No More #1’ can’t shake stale smell of clone stories better left buried in Spider-Man history

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Marvel’s big Spider-Man event of the year has finally arrived with Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #1. Readers who lived through the 90s wondered why writer Dan Slott would dig up the still-rotting corpse of The Clone Saga, and DNM #1 seems to confirm their worst fears. Recycled plastic usually has a weird quality to it that fails to match the original, and recycled stories are the same way.

Here is what you need to know for DNM #1:

  • Peter attends the funeral of Jay Jameson and Jonah explodes on him, which is odd because he knows New U has the power to bring people back from the dead. Jonah’s first wife Marla, after all, has returned.
  • Peter says “this is all my fault” to himself after everyone leaves, even though it clearly was not.
  • Anna Maria Marconi finds out that Peter’s spider-sense went off when he used Jerry Salteres as a guinea pig for New U’s experimental treatment. The two decide to visit the employee’s house to investigate.
  • Jerry’s wife reveals that her husband failed to take his medicine and had something “terrifying” happen to him. New U told her not to talk about it and scrubbed her webware, which contained video of the incident.
  • Peter inexplicably vows to bring Jerry home after retrieving lost data from the webware. Anna privately scolds him for the promise and he heads off to New U as Spider-Man.
  • It turns out Peter used a “microscopic, sub-dermal tracer” on Jerry when they saw each other in the hospital, so he tracks down the man’s “reanimating” body inside a lab.
  • Miles Warren walks in on Peter and within moments Rhino and female Electro are headed for battle.
  • Spider-Man goes into a room marked “Do Not Enter” and finds Gwen Stacy. He is surprised when she doesn’t set off his spider-sense.
  • A reanimated Doctor Octopus punches Peter in the face with a tentacle and the issue ends.

DNM #1 also features a story by Dan Slott titled The Night I Died, which tweaks elements of 1973’s The Amazing Spider-Man #122 to include a semi-conscious Gwen finding out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man just before her death. She cries while thinking of Peter as “the man who helped kill dad.”

Gwen is then “reanimated” by Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, and introduced to her father as a means of convincing her to become a “business partner.”
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The problem with mixing clone stories and The Amazing Spider-Man, besides the fact that they have been done to death (no pun intended) — and badly done — is that a writer is tasked with covering the very nature of existence, consciousness, and the soul. Even unintelligent readers seem to inherently understand that the writer is entering into serious territory, so if the tale isn’t handled right it crumbles under its own weight.

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Let’s put it another way: Even clones in real life would know that they are clones (i.e., see the panel of Gwen Stacy realizing what has happened before grabbing a knife to slit her own throat). Readers are the same way. Why should they care about Gwen Clone?

They shouldn’t — unless it is done well.

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And there’s the rub. On Dan Slott’s watch, Peter Parker “died” and came back to life. The character has not had a single moment of honest reflection on his own death (or whatever it was, since it was never clear) since the series relaunched. Human beings — flesh and blood with thoughts and emotions and hopes and dreams — would be shaken to their core if they died and were brought back to life. Not Dan Slott’s Peter Parker.

Therefore, it stands to reason that if Mr. Slott does not even apply basic human reactions to the protagonist of the series then he will not do so in a meaningful way with clones.

DNM #1 appears to set up all sorts of twists and turns for Peter Parker in the next couple of months. That is the good news.

The bad news is this: Like most conspiracies, the people who weave them usually lose their audience in an incoherent mess that unravels with the least bit of scrutiny. Before you plunk down $4.99 for this book, consider Mr. Slott’s track record and then ask yourself if he seems up to the task.

Editor’s Note:

Regular readers of this blog remember the time when I accurately predicted Dan Slott’s “Arachno-Rockets.” It appears as though your friendly neighborhood blogger has another notch on the belt after having asked in February when “single-cell Spider-tracers” would arrive. DNM #1 does not quite give us a single-celled tracer, but it is “microscopic, sub-dermal.” Given that the function is essentially the same, we’ll consider that a win.

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Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: ‘White Privilege’ is having Peter Parker resort to corporate espionage, getting Hobie Brown to die for his sins

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Your friendly neighborhood blogger said less than one month ago that Marvel writer Dan Slott’s setup for “Dead No More” was worth buying, but that all the warning signs were there “for another round of character assassination.” In lightening-fast speed that would make Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt blush, Mr. Slott managed to stab Peter Parker in the back and twist the knife in 21 days.

Years from now, The Amazing Spider-Man #17 will hopefully be used in a documentary titled The People vs. Dan Slott. The issue includes the moment in time when Peter Parker — the guy who took on corporate saboteur Ghost on multiple occasions — became the very same kind of criminal. Worse, he guilted a good friend with a criminal past into doing the dirty work for him — and the result was deadly. 

For all those social-justice activists out there, let me put it to you in a way that you can understand: “White Privilege” is having Peter Parker resort to corporate espionage and convincing a black friend to die for his sins. Thanks, Dan Slott!

Here is what you need to know about ASM #17:

  • Peter Parker tells Hobie Brown that he needs him to break into New U and steal their intellectual property. He wants to use the company’s nascent technology on Jay Jameson, but requires access to its private data. (Yes Dan Slott, “taking pictures” of a company’s private research after breaking and entering is stealing.)
  • Hobie Brown tells Peter he can’t do that because “industrial espionage” is out of bounds. “I don’t do that anymore,” he says, which is met with a guilt trip about “FAMILY.”
  • Hobie reluctantly agrees and puts on his Prowler uniform. The once-reformed criminal, thanks to Dan Slott’s Peter Parker, becomes a recidivist offender. (The whole scene is more disgusting, given Spider-Man’s lecture to Clayton Cash in Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #3.)
  • Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, tries to give Electro his powers back but the process does not work. Francine (the woman he killed with a kiss before she was resurrected) is nearby, which causes her “genetic mix” to attract Max Dillion’s latent powers. She kisses him to absorb his energy and ironically kills him.
  • Hobie gives up his position to stop Francine. He tries to flee after it is obvious that Dillion is dead, but the new Electro tracks him down and chars him to a crisp. “Told Parker I wasn’t cut out for this. I work best in the shadows…and I stay out…of the light,” he thinks before death overcomes him.
  • The Jackal revives Hobie and shows him secrets that prove his team consists of the real “good guys.” Hobie agrees. When Peter calls from Oklahoma to say New U scientists are going to perform a procedure on Jerry Salteres, he gives no indication that anything is wrong.
  • Miles Warren shows Hobie a pill and says he needs to take it on a daily basis.

Yes, you read that right, Peter Parker asked Hobie Brown to break the law, and then before his partner in crime got back to him with a full report he admits that he was going to approve New U’s procedure anyway (i.e., Thank for dying for nothing, sucker. Mr. Salteres is the perfect guinea pig to see if the surgery would be right for Jay Jameson).

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If you’re wondering how on earth Spider-Man fans got to the point where their hero is no better than the goons who tried to steal Tony Stark’s technology over the years, then look no further than the flashback scene Dan Slott writes on the first page of the issue.

Bad guys are just like the good guys…except they don’t hold back. They don’t follow any rules,” Francine says before kissing Electro.

This is the kind of moral relativism that has been on display since The Superior Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus is a megalomanic who nearly succeeded in exterminating 6 billion people, but to Dan Slott the two men are not all that different. (Heck, the writer even said that Doc Ock was better than Peter at appreciating those who are “truly beautiful”…)

Mr. Slott told Newsarama on April 5, 2013:

Slott: [Otto is] trying his best to be a hero, but he’s doing it in a very Doc Ock way. And Doc Ock’s an egotistical, annoying sh*t. It makes him an interesting character. At his core, he’s someone we don’t really think of heroic. But is he any more annoying than [former villain] Hawkeye used to be? …

Also, when you look at Doc Ock, he was so much like Peter Parker. Peter Parker, if he didn’t know the lessons of power and responsibility, that teenage nerd would have grown up to be an Otto Octavius nerd, with the same kind of, “I’m going to make them pay.” This is the flip of that. …

Do you see Punisher as a hero? Do you see Wolverine as a hero? If these guys can be heroes, why can’t Doc Ock?

Dan Slott admits that he thinks Peter Parker is, for all intents and purposes, one step away from becoming Doctor Octopus.

That is why his Peter is so obsessed with death.

That is why his Peter is willing to exploit the trust of a reformed criminal for his own selfish purposes.

That is why his Peter’s moral compass aimlessly spins in circles — and that is why readers can expect more embarrassing behavior from their “hero” in the months to come.

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ASM #17 is officially the issue where Hobie Brown died, but many Spider-Man fans should consider it the issue where Dan Slott assassinated Peter Parker.

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Related:

Amazing Spider-Man #16: Dan Slott sets the stage for ‘Dead No More’

Amazing Spider-Man #15: Dan Slott’s Regent took down a god, then falls to … Mary Jane

Alternate Reality Jamie Foxx wears an ‘Electro’ shirt at the BET Awards before Spider-Man’s trial ends


Jamie Foxx is playing Electro in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2. So how odd is it that somewhere out in space and time we have an alternate reality where Electro is real, he’s a black guy and he is ultimately killed by the vigilante known as Spider-Man. And then, Alternate Reality Jamie Foxx wears an ‘Electro’ shirt to the Alternate Universe BET Awards to show support — and this is keybefore the trial is over.

I say this because the George Zimmerman trial is underway and Mr. Foxx decided last week that it would be a good time to show support for the deceased young man, Trayvon Martin, before all the evidence has been presented in a court of law:

Actor Jamie Foxx made a silent but powerful fashion statement at Sunday’s BET Awards, where he opted out of the usual red-carpet finery in favor of a T-shirt bearing the image of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen whose shooting death last year sparked intense national debate over gun control and racial profiling. …

Foxx’s fashion statement arrived as the trial of George Zimmerman, the man who claims to have shot Martin in self-defense, enters its second week. …

[H]e was moved to get involved with the case after a tearful encounter with the late teen’s mother at the NAACP Image Awards, and by the work of actor and activist Harry Belafonte.

Jamie Foxx Trayvon

I feel sorry for Trayvon Martin’s mom; no mother wants to lose her son. I feel sorry for George Zimmerman’s family; no one wants to see a loved one hauled off to prison — especially if they believe said loved one killed a man in self defense. However, tears of a family member do not alter the events that unfolded on the night of the incident in their favor.  The justice system exists to strip out the emotion, stick to the facts and then put it in the hands of an unbiased jury. It doesn’t always work that way, but in an imperfect world it’s the best we have.

Faith in the justice system can deteriorate for any number of reasons. One way is for people with large megaphones to try cases in the court of public opinion and then hold them up (like a BET Award) as some sort of ultimate litmus test for race relations in the United States.

Guys of the Jamie Foxx mold initially said that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin. If the defense’s key witness (Trayvon’s then-girlfriend) is to be believed, current evidence reveals the exact opposite — Martin told her he was being followed by a “creepy ass cracker.”(Zimmerman is multi-racial with Peruvian heritage.) Now they’re back tracking, sort of like Spike Lee when he tried tweeting George Zimmerman’s address to 250,000 followers, only to find out that he sent online goons on a mission to harass an innocent elderly couple.

The news stations that have allotted wall-to-wall coverage of this trial (they could barely bring themselves to turn their attention to a military coup in Egypt), are using George Zimmerman’s fate to racially incite America’s lowest common denominator — white and black. Individuals like Jamie Foxx then exacerbate the problem. Peruse through any number of Twitter feeds on the trial or the comments section of your favorite news website, and the dumbest among us are threatening riots or hurling racial epithets at one another. They play racial tit-for-tat and in the end everyone involved walks away angry.

What would the world look like if Hollywood actors spent more time talking about the ties that bind us as the human race and less about artificial divisions constructed around pigmentation? It would probably be a much better place. On opening night of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while I sit in a diverse audience collectively enjoying the moment, I’m sure my mind will meander back to this topic and think “What If?” I encourage you to do the same.

Related: An unhealthy nation covers Trayvon Martin’s death

Related: Spike Lee ‘deeply’ apologizes … in 140 characters

Classic Electro
This is a sad Alternate Reality Electro. He doesn’t get his face on an Alternate Reality Jamie Foxx shirt at an Alternate Reality BET Awards ceremony because he’s the wrong color.