Monday, March 30, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man #15 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I'm...not really sure what I can say about this issue.  I had pretty low hopes for this one from the start.  After all, it was pretty clear early in "Spider-Verse" that we were going to see some sort of ret-con.  I figured that it was going to be something endogenous to the plot, but it now appears that "Secret Wars" will largely fill that role.  I don't know which one is worst.

Let me take it back a step and walk through the story.  We spend the first few pages sending back various Spider-People to more or less happy endings.  May is returned to her world and, despite all possible odds, her mother and boyfriend have survived.  (If you read "Amazing Spider-Man" #8, it's pretty clear that they're dead.  I mean, we don't exactly see their deaths, but Daemos hurls Wes into a wall and we hear Mary Jane scream before the burning house collapses on them.  They're pretty dead.)  Apparently, Mary Jane just ditched Peter and pulled Wes from the house just in time!  [Sigh.]  Whatever.  Let's just keep going.  We then see Spider-Ham, two unidentified Spider-Men, one of the retro Spider-Men that was part of Miles' "Web Warriors" team, and Punk Spider-Man return to their timelines.  Jessica and Miles then return to the Ultimate Universe, with Miles telling Peter that he regrets that they didn't get to spend more time together and Peter alluding to "Secret Wars" by saying that he's sure that they'll see each other again.  [Gag.]  Then, conveniently, all hell breaks loose.

Otto decides that he's going to reject what fate has in store for him by...destroying the Web of Life and Death.  He's apparently doing it to restore free will, even though it's pretty much destroying reality.  It also is destroying the connections between the various worlds, since the Spiders have apparently been traveling between worlds thanks to the skeins of the Web.  (Who knew?)  Peter accelerates the time table of sending Spider-Men home as the portals collapse, deciding that the Earth-616 crowd can take the last portal home together.  Miguel and Gwen get sent to their timelines while Anya, Jessica, and Peter battle Otto.  In the process, Anya manages to read the dagger that Otto is using to destroy the Web, realizing that someone can re-create the Web.  Silk wonders if it's her destiny since everyone called her the Spinner.  (That would make sense, but it's unfortunately not the answer.)  It turns out that the Master Weaver has always been a future version of Karn.  (Seriously, we're just keeping on going.  Slott doesn't even try to explain how the future version of Karn returns to the past to become the Master Weaver that the Inheritors kidnapped millennia ago.  In fact, in a great example of pet peeve #3, the closest that we get to an explanation is Peter complaining about time-travel stories.)  Karn decides to take over the role as Weaver just as Peter takes down Otto.  Nefariously, Otto quietly orders Anna (his version of Lyla) to enter a 100-day sleep mode, as they had "discussed."

However, Otto regains his footing soon, and Peter eventually hurls him through a portal that Karn manages to open.  The explanation for him not remembering the events of "Spider-Verse" when he returns is that crossing into his own timeline will addle his brain sufficiently to cause amnesia...despite the fact that Miguel suffered none of those consequences when returning to 2099.  (Yes, I'm not even bothering to save my snark for parenthetical notations at this point.)  Apparently, Spider-UK didn't manage to return with everyone else -- despite the fact that he was completely absent during the battle with Otto -- but his universe has been destroyed by one of the "incursions" that I already found so mind-numbingly boring that I canceled my subscription to "New Avengers"  Karn announces that the Web has been damaged, weakening everyone's Spider-Sense.  Since he's now homeless, Spider-UK decides that he's going to go fix the Web, and Anya randomly decided to join him.  (It's unclear what exactly they're going to do.  Spider-UK originally implies that he'll go places that lost -- but need -- a Spider-Man, but Karn specifically states that they're going to "mend the severed skeins across time and space."  Apparently we can read more about it in "Secret Wars:  Spider-Verse."  I think you all know how I feel about that.)

Then, the Earth-616 team returns home, with Peter sparing at least 15 seconds to mourn Kaine (killed as the Other by the Inheritors) on the way.  Thankfully, it was just a "Chekhov's gun" moment, because Kaine's hand breaks through the skin of the Other's dead shell at the end.  In Earth-616, Peter now feels confident enough to run his company because he "led an entire army against crazed unkillable vampires."  Then, he helps a women while her purse is getting stolen.  The End.

In other words, we didn't get a ret-con, but it didn't matter, because the entire Marvel Universe is getting ret-conned.  Maybe if I didn't know about "Secret Wars" I would've been able to give Slott credit for at least making some consequences stick.  Then again, maybe not.  On some level, the real tension of this series was how Slott was going to manage to send back Otto into the timeline where his knowledge of these events didn't change everything that happened after "Superior Spider-Man" #19.  But, it feels like Slott just sort of decided to worry about that part later and, when "later" came, he didn't have any better ideas.  So, he pretended that he was writing for "General Hospital" and went with the amnesia excuse.  I guess that he's hoping that we're all so tired of Otto-Spidey that we'd just go with it. (He wouldn't necessarily wrong.)

Moreover, Slott created so many alternate realities that it's hard to believe that the characters that died are really dead.  Every moment in every Spider-Man's life seemed to create another Spider-Man, so it seems, in all likelihood, that Peter Parquagh is still out there in some version of 1602, if not several billion versions.  In other words, the whole nature of "Spider-Verse" served as a ret-con, even without "Secret Wars."

Man, "Spider-Verse" sucked.

* (one of five stars)

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