Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man #16.1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I like Dan Slott.

By my count, Slott has written 124 issues of "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Superior Spider-Man" (including the "Spider-Verse" one-shot), and I have enjoyed the vast majority of them.  OK, sure, I wasn't thrilled with Otto taking possession of Peter's body, but I can at least acknowledge that it was an innovative story (at first) now that I don't have to deal with daily assertion from him and Wacker that the change was permanent.  Slott injected the type of fun into "Amazing Spider-Man" that it had been missing for a long time, while at the same time moving Peter to a more adult status quo, from his initial gig at Horizon Labs to his current position at Parker Industries.  He also brought back the Spidey-focused events that I used to love as a teenager, like "Assassin Nation Plot" or "Round Robin;" even if "Spider-Verse" was little meh, "Ends of the Earth" was solid and "Spider-Island" is probably the best event that I've read.  When Slott eventually wraps up his time on Spidey, I have no doubt that we'll all think Spidey is much better for his time writing him.


...it was really great to read a "real" Spidey story again.  It makes me realize that they're going to need someone like Conway after Slott leaves, to return us to basics.  Although Slott may be great at witty repartee, he's never been particularly good about "normal" conversations.  It's not even just the conversations.  Last issue, everyone treated Peter as a bumbling idiot when he couldn't get to the company's presentation on time.  He couldn't just be chronically late; he had to be comically late.  Again, I love(d) the fact that Slott introduced fun into the series again, but, occasionally, it's forced, undermining a dramatic point that he's trying to make.  (Similarly, when we do have drama, it also feels forced, like Aunt May suddenly becoming a bigot in time to disapprove of Anna Maria.)

Conway obviously doesn't suffer from this problem.  Although Spider-Man is funny and witty as he always, both he and Peter are capable of serious moments befitting the fact that "they've" been at this game a long time.  Peter isn't cracking wise when he visits Yuri at the hospital as she keeps a vigil over her dying partner.  Spider-Man isn't flip as he warns the Wraith that she's crossing a line in breaking into Tombstone's vault to try to show that he control the judge that let him off the hook.  In other words, he isn't a happy-go-lucky kid reveling in Web-Slinging; he's a hardened hero that knows that Yuri is engaging in behavior that could lead her down dangerous paths.

It's hard to put my finger on it, but I guess that I'm saying that this story just doesn't seem like one that Slott would think of writing or manage to execute.  But, a cop with a vendetta adopting an secret identity as a vigilante to take down a crime boss like Tombstone is exactly the sort of story that we've been missing in this title.  When you add in there that her actions could set off a larger gang war as everyone scrambles to fill the void that the Kingpin left when he headed to Europe, I suddenly find myself wistfully thinking of "Amazing Spider-Man" #284-#288.

In other words, yes, you should definitely pick up this issue.

**** (four of five stars)

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