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

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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Amazing Spider-Man #14: Dan Slott puts ‘lipstick on a Regent-pig’

Regent SheThor

Marvel scribe Dan Slott hit a home run with 2015’s Renew Your Vows, but the feat happened despite the creation of a lame villain — Regent. ASM #14 attempts to once again elevate the character into upper echelons of evil, but one cannot help but think of the old line about putting “lipstick on a pig” while reading. Giuseppe Camuncoli puts forth a worthy effort to make the character look cool in costume (don’t ask about supporting cast), but readers care more about the side-stories than the main event.

Here is what you need to know about ASM #14.

  • Ms. Marvel, Nova, Captain America, Vision, and She-Thor are all captured by Regent.
  • Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and MJ tell Miles Morales’ parents that their son (also taken hostage) won a science contest, but is safe … somewhere … with no internet access … on purpose. (Note: This kind of idea only worked in Captain America: Civil War because Peter Parker wasn’t missing.)
  •  MJ tells Peter, “You have no idea how glad I am to have all of this ‘secret identity’ nonsense out of my life. Tony’s not perfect, but with him everything is out in the open.” (Don’t tell Dan Slott, but that is 180 degrees from the truth — Bendis’ Tony Stark disappears for weeks at a time for undercover missions, and no-one knows if he’s dead or alive.)
  • Aunt May coughs up blood and keeps it from her husband.
  • Harry Osborn Lyman calls for a meeting with Augustus Roman and reveals that he knows the businessman is Regent. Harry says he knows Betty Brant was kidnapped, and then uses webware to warn Spider-Man that he is in danger.
  • Spider-Man and Iron Man are crushed by Regent, whose suit was pushed to its limit.

Even if one were to take the position that Regent is an exciting new character, it doesn’t change the fact that readers are getting a rehashed version of Renew Your Vows less than one year after its publication. At least when Marvel does something as tired and worn out as Aunt May dying…the company waits a few years before hitting the “recycle” button. This is like a rerun of your favorite television show after the first three episodes of its new season.

Aunt May

As is often the case with Mr. Slott’s work, there are a lot of pieces shuffled around the chessboard while ultimately not a whole lot goes on. The story bounces from setup to setup (You’re going to love how this comes together in Dead No More, kids!) while ignoring the attention to detail that makes single issues soar.

For instance, Regent dispatches with heavy-hitting heroes like Vision and Captain America in a single panel. He battles She-Thor in what is teased as an epic clash, only to show her captured in an energy bubble two pages later. It’s jarring. It’s strange, and it just isn’t enough for a relatively new character who is met with indifference by most fans.

Regent

If you are the kind of Marvel fan who has collected ASM since 1975 and don’t want to break up your complete set, then make sure to head on out to your local comic book shop this week. For everyone else, I suggest waiting until the reviews for Dead No More are published before you consider opening up your wallets.

Dan Slott’s Amazingly Immature Spider-Man makes protégé Miles Morales ‘ashamed’ of the costume

ASM13 SpiderMan IronMan fight

It would be incredibly hard for any comic book to steal headlines from Marvel’s Hydra-loving Captain America these days, but the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man gives it the old college try in terms of defiling a great character. It’s true that Marvel’s editors have not made Peter Parker admit to killing Uncle Ben — yet — but Dan Slott does turn a grown man into an immature loser who puts civilians’ lives at risk. Worse, Peter’s own protégé looks at his behavior and can barely keep his lunch down.

Before we continue on, here is what you need to know for ASM #13:

  • Harry Osborn and Betty Brant get ready to go to lunch with “the old gang.” Harry weirdly tells Peter that he isn’t invited because he’s “the big boss man” and Peter sheepishly replies, “Um…okay.”
  • Harry tells Betty he didn’t want to “risk” an awkward encounter with Mary Jane attending the lunch.
  • The three of them look at one of Betty’s Daily Bugle articles and realize that Augustus Roman is Regent.
  • Peter takes off as Spider-Man for a “Big Brother batting cage playdate” with Miles Morales, aka young Spider-Man.
  • Tony Stark arrived before Peter and soon ribs him about the quality of Parker Industries’ technology. Iron Man has also provided Miles with new web-shooters.
  • Spider-Man goes nuts and begins a street fight with Iron Man in front of parents and their children.
  • Miles Morales throws his hands in the air and says he’s “ashamed to be wearing this costume right now.” He leaves unnoticed and is immediately captured by Regent.
  • The giant explosion that takes down Miles stuns Spider-Man and Iron Man. The charge towards the blast area.

Ask yourself this question: If a writer claims to love Peter Parker, then why would he have the character behave in a way that causes a derivative version of himself to be “ashamed”?

The job of a writer is to make the protagonist shine in his own unique way as much as possible, yet Dan Slott’s Spider-Man has New Yorkers running for the hills as he acts like a clown.

“With great power comes great responsibility” — unless Tony Stark acts like Tony Stark, in which case it’s time to destroy public property and scare everyone within a half-mile radius. Perhaps J. Jonah Jameson was right all along…

ASM 13 SpiderMan IronMan

Regular readers will note that Peter Parker had a bizarre fight with Human Torch in ASM #3 and with Iron Man in ASM #12. He is actually regressing in terms of tact, professionalism, and maturity as the series goes on, so much so that his teenage protégé storms off in disgust. 

ASM 13 Miles explosion

“It was me. This is my fault,” Spider-Man says as he searches through wreckage for Miles. That may be true within the context of the story, but fans are left thinking, “No, this was Dan Slott. This is his fault.”

Long-time Spider-Man fans need to be told the following since they will never get it from websites like Newsarama: Dan Slott uses ASM #13 to elevate Miles Morales by making a mockery out of Peter Parker.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis did the very same thing in SM #2, which is why readers must pay close attention. There is a concerted effort to chip away at Peter Parker’s credibility until Miles usurps him in popularity, and it will certainly happen unless readers push back — hard.

If you want to see the slow-motion destruction of Peter Parker, then run out and buy ASM today.

If you want to see writers knee-cap the original Spider-Man so that Miles Morales wins the long-distance sales race, then check out ASM.

If you want to show Marvel your displeasure at what it’s doing to both Captain America and Spider-Man, then keep your hard-earned cash for better products. Charles Soule, for instance, is running creative laps around his peers as the moment. I highly suggest checking out his version of Daredevil.

ASM 13 IM SM

Dan Slott’s lesson for Peter Parker: Don’t hire women

ASM Scorpio

At some point in time fans of The Amazing Spider-Man have to wonder if writer Dan Slott has a thing against women. Every woman Peter Parker brings into his inner circle at his company seems intent on destroying the operation. A similar conversation can be had on Silk and her embarrassing sex-pheromones, but I digress.

The seventh issue of ASM moves the plot along as it is revealed Mr. Negative wants to take down “China’s favorite son, Shen Quinghao” by having Peter slip him the designer drug Shade. Luckily, the villain’s “corrupting touch” only works once, so he is unaware that when he previously took control of Spider-Man during Dark Reign: Mister Negative Miniseries, he lost his chance to do the same to Peter moving forward.

The real reveal of ASM #7, however, is that once again another woman is actively trying to sabotage Parker Industries.

Let’s look at the history:

  • Anna Maria Marconi went behind Peter’s back with Sanjani on Doc Ock’s nano-technology project.
  • Sanjani tried to strike a deal with The Ghost — a corporate saboteur — to wreck Peter’s top projects “beyond repair.”
  • Lien Tang, who is “very close” with Peter and feeds him dumplings on the roof of Parker Industries, never told him her mother was sick with cancer. Instead of telling him while they were “close” one night, she decides to work with an international terrorist organization. The Zodiac gives her experimental treatments in exchange for sensitive information.

Peter Parker Sajani

The problem with the whole set-up is that Lien has barely made any appearances. Readers were told she and Peter were “close,” but yet none of it was shown in the actual book. No one cared about their relationship — or her character in general — and yet they’re supposed to be floored by her betrayal. The scene falls flat because Dan Slott never put in the work to credibly establish her character. It’s a repeat performance of Sanjani’s fall from grace. She couldn’t “fall” because she never had a pedestal to stand on to begin with.

ASM Normie

Two other scenes worth mentioning are the return of Regent — one of the few low points of Renew Your Vows — and Dan Slott’s continued insertion of the the perfect technology for any jam Peter finds himself in.

Last issue it was Quick-drying web-cement webbing and Acid-webbing. Now it’s “Micro Spider-Tracers.” Before that it was a Spider-plane that shot non-lethal web rounds, a Spider-submarine, and a handy-dandy Spider anti-toxin.

Question: At what point in time will fans be introduced to the Spider-Tank, and when will Peter introduce the Single Cell Spider-tracer?

If these are the ASM stories you’re looking for, then more power to you. However, one still can’t help but wonder: Where is all the feminist rage over the way Dan Slott writes female characters?

ASM mini tracer

Renew Your Vows 5: Dan Slott’s saccharin spider-family takes on bland Regent

Mary Jane Parker RYV Mom

The final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows has finally arrived, but borderline diabetics may need to withhold their cash. Dan Slott ends his defacto “What if … the Parker family lived in an Orwellian police state ruled by a super-powered despot?” with plenty of sugary sap — and cheese.

SpiderMan Parkers Renew Your Vows

Renew Your Vows continues a trend for Mr. Slott, which is that he has a tough time at the finish. If he were a baseball player for the New York Yankees, then he would not be a closing pitcher. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Let’s wrap it up. Wrap it up. Wrap it up-up-up-up-up! Love and happiness, strength and family, yadda, yadda, yadda — those plot holes never happened.”

SpiderMan Regent RYV ASM

It was only one issue ago that Regent was using telekinesis to immobilize Peter Parker and Sandman with a thought, perhaps the mere seed of a thought. He was, for all intents and purposes, a god. And yet, because the script calls for a “love conquers all”-type ending, readers are supposed to cheer its slap-dash construction.

Perhaps one of the weirdest moments comes when MJ turns to Peter at the end of the tale and says, “I have to know…if our daughter was in real danger, would you have killed him?”

Mary Jane Parker Renew Your Vows

Regent took out all of the Avengers. He took out almost every superhero in existence. And yet, a small child who just randomly decided to rush into battle against him was apparently never in any “real” danger. That begs the question: Then why should readers have bothered to care?

Renew Your Vows had some fine moments. Dan Slott hit a “home run” with the second issue and performed adequately in the third and fourth installments. Regardless, the story ended up as little more than a sweet treat for fans who wanted to see a few flashes of “Parker power.”

Buy the issue if you’ve already followed it this far, but make sure to have an insulin injection nearby.

Dan Slott’s Renew Your Vows souffle falls flat; Regent, Sinister Stooges collapse tasty cake in 4th issue

Regent Renew Your Vows SpiderManA souffle that falls flat in the oven is usually going to keep its good taste, but on many levels it is still considered a disappointment. Dan Slott’s 4th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is just like a souffle that begins to collapse before the oven timer rings. The main reason for this is Regent, who continues to weigh down the story.

Issue 4 of Renew Your Vows reveals that Mary Jane and Annie were shuttled away from danger by Mockingbird and The Prowler, who are working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Their escape was made possible by Jonathan Ohnn (aka: The Spot), who is also working for the organization.

Spider-Man, however, does not fare as well. He and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sandman are captured by Regent, who uses telekinesis to immobilize them.

“And no, little man. It’s not fair at all. It never is when you battle a god,” Regent replies to the accusation that he isn’t fighting fair. It is not long afterwards that the souffle begins to deflate.

“I am a good man, Peter. Before you die, I want you to know that,” Regent tells his captive. He then says that he needs Peter’s spider-sense to battle Doctor Doom, who has become a near-omnipotent god on Battleworld. Although Peter calls this “insane,” in all likelihood there isn’t going to be a plot twist to make Mr. Slott’s idea any better.

Perhaps the second most embarrassing thing about Renew Your Vows is the way the Sinister Six has, arguably, become the Sinister Stooges. Not only does angry-Pete dispose of them with ease, but now his daughter is able to literally take out Shocker, Kraven, and Boomerang with eye-pokes and crotch-shots. In the middle of a story about an Orwellian police state, readers abruptly get Slottian hi-jinks; Kraven says “Gnyah!” when he’s kicked in the testicles. Mr. Slott should have gone all the way and had Annie say “Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!”

Renew Your Vows 4 AnnieIn short, Renew Your Vows is still the best thing that Dan Slott has written in awhile. Fans have more-or-less gotten what they wanted out of the tale (e.g., strong MJ, Peter acting like a man instead of a man-boy), and Slott’s worst instincts have mostly been corralled. The Renew Your Vows souffle may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it is still worth $4.00 if you’re a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Side note: I would be remiss if I didn’t say kudos to Mr. Slott for his use of The Spot in this issue. I first came across the character as a kid while reading my brother’s collection of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man. Even though he wasn’t treated as a serious villain, his powers fascinated me. He always seemed like a character with untapped potential. It was nice to see Jonathan Ohnn appropriately used here.

The Spot Marvel

Renew Your Vows No. 3: Dan Slott’s tale of darker Spider-Man hamstrung by lame villain Regent

Doctor Octopus Renew Your VowsIssue No. 3 of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is out, and fans get another dose of Peter Parker doing anything to protect his family. Writer Dan Slott’s “No one dies” philosophy for Mr. Parker has been replaced with “No one dies — unless you threaten my wife and kid,” which gives readers plenty to talk about. Just like issue number two, the writer does a decent job exploring the Parker family’s attempt to survive in an Orwellian nightmare. It’s a shame that its lame main villain, Regent, continues to drag down the quality of the tale.
SpiderMan Renew Your Vows Doc OckThere is something incredibly satisfying about seeing a part of the enforcement arm (no pun intended) of a totalitarian police state getting ripped to shreds by a true hero. Unfortunately, the reaction by characters like Doctor Octopus to Spider-Man’s no-joking demeanor — only moments after telling the hero that he and his family would die a gruesome death — comes across as too comical.

If a man’s stock-in-trade is to hunt down and murder entire families, then he can’t be surprised when the head of the household — yes, even Spider-Man — counters deadly force with commensurate power.

Renew Your Vows Doctor OctopusWould it be logical for Doctor Octopus to be taken aback by Spider-Man’s sudden willingness to use deadly force? In a world where state-run televisions turn off and on like something out of George Orwell’s “1984,” no. In a world where superheroes (and their children) are summarily hunted down and executed, no. In a world where Spider-Man lived after the entire Avengers team, Professor X, and The Hulk fell to Regent with seemingly little effort, no. Regardless, in this instance Dan Slott can be forgiven if his handling of Doc Ock’s response to “dark” Peter was a bit clumsy.

For those who didn’t get the message earlier in the book, Mr. Slott hammers it home in the final pages when Spider-Man webs an activated pumpkin bomb to Hobgoblin’s hand. “BWHOO” translated into writer-speak for this issue of Renew Your Vows is “If you mess with Peter Parker’s family, then there is a good chance that you will die.”

Hobgoblin Renew Your Vows 3It is unfortunate that Regent is such a generic villain. Readers are left in a weird state of cognitive dissonance because on one hand the character is tied to a story that shows Peter and MJ at their best, but on the other he is a creative millstone around the neck of writer Dan Slott.

If Regent is another man’s creation that Mr. Slott has been forced to use, then I feel bad for him. If Regent is Dan Slott’s creation, then he shouldn’t complain when digital tomatoes are thrown his way for months to come.

SpiderMan Renew Your Vows Parker FamilyIn short, Renew Your Vows continues to be a story worth reading if you are a fan of Peter Parker. It has its flaws, but it’s better than 95 percent of what Dan Slott churned out for the entire relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2014.