Peter Gets a New Set of Great Responsibilities in The Amazing Spider-Man 791

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 791

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“With great power must also come great responsibility.” Every Spider-Man fan knows these words as well as Peter Parker himself, so you’d think we’d have a good handle on what it means. And we do, to some degree — Peter’s superhuman powers demand that he take on superhuman responsibilities — but much of the tension comes from how all that superheroing clashes with the other responsibilities in his life. Writer Dan Slott has always kept that aspect of Spider-Man in mind, giving Peter more personal and professional responsibilities than he can really keep track of. It’s a juggling act we’re all familiar with in our own lives, and Amazing Spider-Man 791 finds Slott adding one more that clearly means a lot to him: publishing deadlines.

There’s the faintest whiff of a wink as Peter marvels at the “what do you have for next week?” attitude of his boss — the work is never done at a periodical — but for the most part, these new responsibilities blend right in to classic Spider-Man-isms. He’s narrowly making it to work on time, he’s fielding a phone call with Aunt May in the middle of a big fight, and he’s using his Daily Bugle legwork to tip him off to criminal activity (and then turning his actions as Spider-Man back into work for the Daily Bugle).

Peter Parker doesn't screw up (for once)

This kind of return to platonic form feels like a win for Peter, but there’s maybe some problems brewing beneath the surface. Peter’s reaction to carrying an Alchemax phone early in the issue suggests that he won’t respond particularly well to the news that Harry is now working for Alchemax, and his obliviousness to what’s going on in Bobby’s life continues to play out in the background. But the biggest elephant in the room seems to be Pete’s aversion to his own identity.

Peter stays Spider-Man

Artist Stuart Immonen is on fire throughout, as usual, but this has to be my favorite panel — look how perfectly it capture’s Bobbi’s sentiment. Pete looks as free as ever as Spider-Man, but he’s framed in these kind of oppressive window-panes, looking for all the world like prison bars. He may feel freer as Spider-Man, but we can see clearly — from Bobbi’s perspective, no less — that he’s boxed in. That’s just good storytelling.

All of which makes this an incredible time to be a Spider-Man fan. We’ve got crackerjack writing, incredibly nuanced art, and a new lease on some classic Spider-Man situations. We know this will all go wrong for Peter sooner rather than later, but I’m going to enjoy every moment of the ride in the meantime.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?


One comment on “Peter Gets a New Set of Great Responsibilities in The Amazing Spider-Man 791

  1. I decided to try this out, as I was interested in where Slott was going next and surprisingly impressed with how Slott ended Silver Surfer (until he truly messed up the finale)

    But this issue just had too many fundamental issues. As always, Slott has everything seemingly in the right place. Some great ideas. Peter retreating into Spiderman to escape being Peter, Science Editor at the Bugle. But it doesn’t come together. Which is a shame, as Peter as Science Editor is an amazing idea. Leaning into Peter’s rich history in the journalism profession while linking him to the science that is so important. Hell, the story almost feels like an actualisation of Ultimate Gwen Stacy’s imagined future for Peter in Ultimate SPiderman 200, Peter combining Spiderman and journalism together (hey, the previous Parer Industries stuff is kind of similar to May’s fantasy from tha tissue…).

    But while the basic structure of this issue is good – Peter starts a new job, and struggles with the challenge of successfully leading a team to write the Science Supplement. By combining all aspects of his life, including Spiderman, he successfully has the team come together to create an amazing piece, only to be reminded of the greater challenge, he now has to do this every week – the issue fails.

    The best way to explore this problems is through the character Ruby. For many reasons. Firstly, as the key new supporting cast member, SLott should be trying to give her a proper introduction. But also because she is the true antagonist of the issue. The ace reporter who is hostile to Peter’s nepotistic promotion. The arc of this issue is Peter impressing her, establishing his working relationship with his key supporting cast member.

    Except, some very basic problems abound. What is Ruby’s relationship with science? What sort of perspective does she have? Why is she a science reporter? Who is Ruby? Other than antagonistic to Peter, there is very little to her. And in an issue all about Peter developing a working relationship with her (I know she doesn’t feature much, but this is undeniable. There is a complete arc, from her pissed at the nepotism to her impressed at the work), she should be a more defined character. THis issue should have set her up completely so that future issues can use the established personality for drama etc.

    But ultimately, this issue is too focused on being a superhero book, that it ignores the journalistic side. But the only period where Peter and his team do actual journalism is off panel. We don’t get to see Peter do any journalism, display any leadership qualities or any other sign of the journalistic side. We don’t get to see Peter working with Ruby and his team to flesh out the story. Instead, we just get a line about how he has a story he needs to right, and then next time we see him everyone is amazed. Peter actually says ‘It was a team effort’, but the only person we see doing anything is… Peter. For an issue dedicated to establishing new Peter’s career, it does a very bad job at it.

    And then there are a couple of other issues. Slott has the Quicksand twist, which doesn’t really feel particularly meaningful. I know it is only supposed to be a fun turn, but it doesn’t really work as a fun turn because it is so superficial. It doesn’t influence anything, and the setup and punchline is so close together that our expectations haven’t even been established before they are subverted. If Slott wanted the gag to work, he needed the reader to be as confident that it was Sandman as Peter was, and the reader wasn’t.

    These sorts of execution problems abound throughout this book. The ideas are so, so good, btu SLott always struggles with execution. Again and again. I’m glad his ideas are as good as ever, but this book is still not for me

    (Oh, and the Bobbi scene about woman’s voices annoys me as it is the wrong way around. I love how, post-Cain, Bobbi is now the ultimate feminist and every Marvel writer greatly enjoys using her for that purpose. But the fact that Slott ends up going against current feminist thought is annoying. Feminist tech discussion is often about the overabundance of digital female voices with Siri, Alexa and Cortana. The key feminist question is why are all these devices are playing into the fantasy of the submissive, subservient woman. The woman who exists solely for your needs. I know the scene exists to foreshadow the Quicksand twist, but Bobbi’s reaction should be a bemused line about yet another AI who is a submissive woman here for your needs)

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