Amazing Spider-Man #22: If you've been reading this blog fora while you know I'm not a huge fan of Dan Slott. He has his moments (like "Spider-Island"), but more often than not I'm left feeling disappointed. This disappointment usually happens when he's pushing a concept too hard, like he did with Otto taking over Peter's body. He goes past the point where an idea is interesting to where it's not only tedious but fails to make sense. We're on the verge of that happening here. Slott seems to be giving us a way to understand the impetus of this event, namely that Miles Warren murdering Ben Reilly 27 times for "science" eventually drove him insane. That makes sense (sort of). The problem is that it raises more questions than it answers. For example, at some point, don't we have a "copy of a copy" problem? Warren is "resurrecting" Ben each time from the remains of the previous clone. Given that Ben himself is a clone of Peter, the Ben we see here is essentially the 29th version of Peter (if I'm getting my math correct). At some point, shouldn't the biological matter degrade? (Is that why Ben's insane?) Moreover, how much genetic material exactly does this new process need? Ben himself makes an army of Miles clones, but I don't understand how you do that with this new technique. Don't you need all the remains just to make one clone? Can you really make as many Miles as we see here from one body? Or, did Ben kill Miles a bunch of times and used portions of each body? Again, isn't there a "copy of a copy of a copy" problem? Similar to "IvX," the problem here becomes that the entire conceit of the event is based on science that makes no sense. It makes it hard to engage with the story on an emotional level, since you spend all your times shaking your head and developing alternative explanations to the ones you've been given. I'm almost thinking it would be better if we didn't have these tie-in issues trying to explain the details, because they actually seem to be doing more harm than good.
Batman #13: This issue is odd. And bad. But mostly odd. As expected, we learn Catwoman never really betrayed Batman; it was all part of his plan. (King also hints she didn't commit the 237 murders back in Gotham, but we'll likely get to that in the next arc.) Weirdly, though, Bruce's "plan" actually seemed more about revenge against Bane than bringing back Psycho-Pirate: at Batman's signal, Catwoman breaks Bane's back. This decision (and the loss of Psycho-Pirate, who Bane was using as his surrogate for venom) results in Bane demanding venom from his guards. That's bad, right? Bruce took a moderately good outcome of a devenomed and contained Bane and made it worse, just to get Psycho-Pirate to undo what he did to Claire. I get wanting to help Claire, but didn't we have other options on that front that didn't result in a revenomed Bane? Moreover, King never really explains why he went to such lengths to show Batman carefully assembling this team, since the supporting characters aren't really revealed to have any purpose. Other than creating a bubble-gum raft, I have no idea what Jewelee and Punchee did. Bruce comments on how the Bat-sub is waiting for them in international waters, so they presumably needed to use the raft to get there. But, is he really concerned about diplomatic niceties with Santa Prisca after he invaded it? Couldn't he just get the Bat-sub to come get them on the shore? I also have no idea what Bronze Tiger was meant to do. Seriously. As far as I can tell, he didn't even have his bubble-gum raft moment. The Ventriloquist was chosen because he could resist Psycho-Pirate, which makes sense, I guess; Bruce informs us only Scarface can control him. But, I still think Bronze Tiger could've just rushed Psycho-Pirate and knocked him unconscious to the same result. I don't see how the Ventriloquist's contribution was so great that they'd all wind up dead without him, as Batman previously promised. In other words, ho, boy, this arc was a mess.
Justice League #11: OK, I'm finally done with this series. This issue is fun, and Hitch's decision to have Lily hack Amazo was clever. But, just like "Batman" #13, it ends in a way that leaves too much on the table. We never really see the League defeat the villains coming after them; Amazo switches sides, and we're pretty much left to conclude he takes out everyone else. Master Disaster threatens to take down the entire area with fire, but Jessica, Baz, and Amazo (who can somehow duplicate a Green Lantern's powers, without actually having a ring) just snuff out the fire. End of fight. Then, Batman oddly decides not to hold Lily or, more importantly, her father accountable. If you remember correctly, her father created the code in the first place to steal money from banks. But, Bats is totally cool with that because grief. He announces Wayne Enterprises will rebuild the destroyed neighborhood, give Lily the best education she can get, and give her father a job. It's pretty uncharacteristically gray of him. I could justify hanging in there to see how things develop, but then I'd be forced to buy the "Justice League/Suicide Squad" cross-over event. I just feel like DC and Marvel are taking me, and my money, for granted at this point with these events. So, I'm done. Ciaosy, "Justice League."
Occupy Avengers #1-#2: Walker lays out Clint's mission statement pretty clearly here, as he travels the country trying to do the right thing after so many years of doing the not-so-right thing. His guilt over killing Bruce is palpable. In fact, it's clear he's still struggling with it, as he describes it as him "helping" Bruce commit suicide. As a result, Walker makes it clear we're walking a long road with Clint here. But, I'm perhaps most excited about this series because of the return of Red Wolf. I really enjoyed his series from last year, and I was disappointed it ended so soon. By showing us an image of the man responsible for sending Red Wolf into the future, Walker makes it clear we're going to get some of the answers we were denied as a result of that series' cancellation. But, he also adds a new layer to Red Wolf's time in the present, portraying Red Wolf as seeing his displacement as penance for a sin he committed. He believes he died in his encounter with the "lightning man," if you will, but was denied moving onto the next plane of existence for this sin. As such, Walker gives Red Wolf his own reasons for joining Clint's crusade. I didn't expect to be as excited about this series as I am, but here we are. Now, if only the Fireheart cousins come along for the ride!
Spider-Women TPB: OK, I finally caved and bought "Spider-Women," because Comixology was having a sale. It does help fill in some holes, though I'm still hazy on the point where Gwen became as close to Jess as we've seen her be after this event. Reading the full Wikipedia entry on "Spider-Verse" to refresh my memory, it seems like they were together only briefly. Cindy and Jessica worked with Spider-Man Noir, Cindy slipped Gwen's surveillance to try to fight the Inheritors, and Cindy and Gwen helped rescue Jessica while she was undercover on Loomworld. As far as I can tell, they're the only interactions these three characters had. But, I need to get over it, clearly. Despite resisting this event for so long, I have to admit it was fun. I still don't understand how Cindy managed to reverse Gwen's powers, since it presumably would require rewriting Gwen's D.N.A., and it seems unlikely she could do that with the little gizmo she uses here. The authors imply Gwen's powers are similar to Jesse Drew's, to whom Evil Cindy had to give two shots a day so he'd maintain them. But, that doesn't make sense, because Gwen's had her powers all this time without the shots. But, again, it's something I'm just going to have to accept. At least this event was worth it for the good time, if not for the narrative clarity.
Spider-Gwen #15: OK, now that I've read "Spider-Women" and re-read the "Spider-Gwen" issues since then, I still don't understand how exactly Cindy Moon of Earth-65 stripped Gwen of her powers. She seems to have removed the radioactive isotope from Gwen's bloodstream. But, how did that isotope stay in Gwen's bloodstream so long in the first place, given Jesse Drew needed twice daily injections to maintain it? Would her powers have faded eventually? Why did they last so long in the first place then? But, like I said above, I guess I'm just going to have to get over it; I feel like we've gotten as much of an explanation as we're going to get. At any rate, I admit it's brilliant to have Daredevil make a deal with Cindy to get his hands on more power-ups for Gwen. (Of course they were evil lovers. Of course they were.) Matt has Gwen exactly where he wants her. But, Latour also holds out the possibility Gwen could benefit from this situation in the long run. Since she lost her powers, Latour has shown how she really does only have the agility and strength of a 19-year-old woman. If Daredevil puts her through ninja camp (like Iron Fist did in helping create Spidey's Spider-Fu), she becomes all the more powerful after she (presumably) leaves his service. How she's going to survive leaving his service is still unclear.
Also Read: Avengers #2.1; Captain America: Sam Wilson #16; Nightwing #11; Solo #3; Spider-Gwen #13; Star Wars: Dr. Aphra #2