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.
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.
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.