Friday, January 1, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #3 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This issue is all about family.

First, Scorpio leads the charge on S.H.I.E.L.D. to kill Leo, prompting Mockingbird and Nick, Jr. to wonder if he's Nick's Uncle Jake, the original Scorpio.  Moreover, Scorpio refers to the Zodiac as a family and reveals that he killed (and, in fact, disintegrated) Leo because "not one skin cell" or drop of blood could remain.  It seems to imply that they're all linked to each other biologically, like they're clones (or L.M.D.s).  Underlining that point, Taurus refers to Scorpio as "brother."  Then, we have the return of Harry Osborn, revealed to be running Parker Industries when Peter isn't there.  Harry's on the phone with Liz (trouble) when Johnny Storm and Pete walk into his office and reveals that he's changed his last name to Lyman (his mother's maiden name) to differentiate himself from his father.  We even have a bandaged up Norman lurking in the shadows here, providing arms for the dictator of the African nation of Nadua.

But, it's Johnny and Peter's relationship that's the primary focus of this issue, and I really don't know what to say.  The tension comes from Peter buying the Baxter Building and revealing it as the new HQ of Parker Industries.  Johnny is upset when he sees the announcement on TV at a bar and flies into a rage, barging into the building and demanding to see Peter.  However, Peter (as Spidey) does little to assuage Johnny's concerns that Peter has forgotten about him and the Fantastic Four.  Harry introduces himself as Peter's best friend, Mockingbird is one of the 26 people "in this dimension" that know Peter's identity, Peter turned Johnny's room into the Executive Washroom, and, worse of all, he built a new Spider-Mobile without Johnny.  Peter eventually brings Johnny in the front door to show him a statue of the Fantastic Four and tells him that he bought the place so that Alchemax and Roxxon couldn't, keeping it safe for when the Fantastic Four returns.

But, I don't really buy it.  Honestly, Peter is an asshole here.  It's pretty clear that he doesn't care at all about Johnny.  After all, the renovations of the Baxter Building had to take some time.  At no point during that process did he think to mention it to Johnny?  He has him discover it through a press conference?  When they were renovating, he never though, "Hey, maybe I could save Johnny's room from becoming the shitter?  It would help him know that I care."  He can give Harry Osborn, sorry, Layman yet another chance (as Harry himself mentions), but he can't even spare a moment (or a room) to make sure that his other (alleged) best friend would be OK with him buying the Baxter Building, given that he's lost his entire family?  I have a hard time believing that Peter's this big of an asshole, but Slott seems to be doubling down on it.

Sure, the Zodiac story is great.  In fact, I don't think Camuncoli has ever been better:  he actually makes the Zodiac look freaking cool.  But, I'm giving this issue two stars because I just can't buy Peter treating Johnny the way that he does here.  If Slott is telling it as part of a story of Peter getting overwhelmed by the pressure of his current success, I might retroactively be OK with it.  But, right now, it just feels mean.

** (two of five stars)

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