Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man #17 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

On some level, this issue has less to do with Peter or the plot and more to do with Anna Maria and Sajani.

I love Anna Maria.  Seriously, if I had to endure "Superior Spider-Man" to get Anna Maria, it was worth it.  Sure, we get a great example of pet peeve #3 here, when Slott uses her to skewer the idea that anyone was ever going to believe that Peter had stopped designing tech for Spidey.  But, I don't care.  In fact, it's part of the reason why I think that she's a great character.  Slott generally uses her to disabuse Peter of the ridiculous fables that he tells himself.  We've all gotten used to him doing so, but Anna Maria suggests that he might actually be able to stop overcomplicating his life if he just listened to her.  I mean, I don't expect him to become Johnny Storm overnight, but it would be nice if he relaxed a bit.  If she occasionally uses this insight to skewer a ridiculous plot point that shouldn't have existed in the first place, so be it.

Moreover, Anna Maria often uses her sharp mind not just to help Peter as Peter, but also to help Peter as Spider-Man.  Several times in this issue, she provides cover to Peter so that he can use his Spider-Powers to save the staff from their experiment when the Ghost turns it against them.  She's exactly the sort of character that Peter has always needed.  Mary Jane used to play this role to some extent, but it was complicated by her relationship (and concern) for Peter when he acted as Spider-Man.  Anna Maria respects Peter's role as Spider-Man, and she doesn't come at it with the same baggage as Mary Jane did.  If Parker Industries is going to work, it's because Anna Maria essentially allows Peter to be in two places at once.

Turning to Sajani, I'm still not sure what Slott wants us to think about her.  She tries to make a deal with the Ghost here to destroy Peter's prison project, so she definitely continues to tip-toe a line between good and evil (or, at least, truthful and devious).  But, as the Ghost says, maybe she's just smart and ruthless.  So far, she's never really done anything that isn't necessarily in Peter's interest.  Her opposition to his project comes from the fact that she thinks that it's bad for business.  In other words, everything she does, she does for the company; if the company succeeds because of her actions, then Peter also succeeds.

The problem is that she goes about it in such underhanded ways.  If she and Anna Maria have time to work on their "secret project," then it stands to reason that she could convince Peter that they should be allowed to do so without the secrecy.  (Also, Anna Maria hates secrets, but only secrets that Peter keeps?)  In other words, I don't entirely understand why Slott has her in this back-stabbing deputy role, forcing her to work with super-villains to position Parker Industries where she wants it.  She's Peter's partner, after all.  She should be able to green light her own project without resorting to the level of subterfuge that we often see her embracing here.

Speaking of Parker Industries, I'm still not sure if it's working.  Tony Stark manages to run Stark Industries and be Iron Man, but he had Pepper Potts doing all the work.  In these early days, it makes sense that Peter wants to make PI work and feels a responsibility to manage it directly.  But, at some point, the stories of him trying to juggle his role as CEO and Spider-Man are going to get old.  Hopefully, we're on a trajectory here where Anna Maria and/or Sajani will run the company and Peter occasionally contributes a brilliant idea, like he did at Horizon Labs.  Otherwise, it's just feel like a little too much responsibility, even for Peter.  As Anna Maria once said, he doesn't have to have all the responsibility.

*** (three of five stars)

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