By Drew Baumgartner and Taylor Anderson
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, cause I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. “What about getting up after five hours sleep?” Oh that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy.
Drew: I’ve never heard anyone defend procrastination. We know it’s stupid and lazy, passing off the problem on our future selves, but we still do it, anyway. Charitably, we might describe this as some kind of prioritization or planning maneuver, but more often than not, it’s just putting off whatever work needs to actually be done. But here’s the thing: there are rarely any consequences for procrastination. I mean, sure, you might put writing your term paper (or government budget) off so long that you completely blow your deadline, but so long as you don’t fall into that trap, procrastination is more of a recipe for annoyance than it is failure. Case in point: Spidey’s delayed showdown with Scorpio in Amazing Spider-Man 794.
In Peter’s defense, he did think that having a year to prepare for his fight with Scorpio would give him some kind of advantage, but unfortunately, all of his plans are undone more or less instantaneously. That might have been more of a problem if Scorpio was spoiling for a fight, but since he seems to be in a hurry, he leaves Peter and Bobbi alive to run him down. That he’s in such a rush kind of speaks to the different reactions to procrastination: putting off his master plan until the literal eleventh hour is a big stressor for Scorpio, but Peter is so used to relying on quick thinking, he’s utterly undaunted by it.
As far as Scorpio is concerned, there’s no way to undo his plan. He’s not a procrastinator, so he’s convinced more time is needed to find a solution to a given problem. But Peter is a big-time procrastinator, with plenty of justifiable confidence in his abilities to work under pressure. Indeed, Peter comes up with a solution with only seconds to spare, but like that term paper (or government budget) I mentioned earlier, all that matters is that he got it done on time.
Squeaking out a victory is an expected end for a superhero story, but the Scopio thread really only makes up about two-thirds of the issue. The rest follows some hired goons retrieving something from a high-security depository for “dangerous, extranormal artifacts.” The goons’ use of pumpkin bombs suggests that they’re working for Norman Osborn, but it’s not until the final page that we learn what Osborn is after: the Carnage symbiote.
As a relative newcomer to Spider-Man, I don’t have a ton of experience with Carnage, but writer Dan Slott has done his due diligence in establishing Osborn as a very real threat to Peter. Him having access to a big, scary weapon is threatening, whatever that big, scary weapon may be.
Slott is joined on writing duties this issue by Christos Gage, a writer we’ve seen on the periphery of Slott’s ASM for years now, and the difference is barely noticeable. I’m not sure if this is meant to ease the transition as Slott moves over to Iron Man (I have no idea if Gage is tapped as the next ASM writer), but if so, it really couldn’t be smoother. It probably helps that Stuart Immonen delivers as assured an issue as ever, keeping the faces expressive and the action dizzying, even as the structure of the issue finds us zipping between those two stories.
Taylor, I’m not sure if you’ve been following Amazing Spider-Man recently, but I think this issue works as a pretty satisfying jumping-on point, even if you’ve never seen Scorpio before. For me, it was less of a conclusion to that arc as it was a setup for the next one — one that has me pretty excited. Did this issue do anything for you?
Taylor: I enjoyed this issue quite a bit, and not being a follower of this series, I found there’s a lot going on here that I like and makes me want to read more. For starters, I’m already enchanted by the characterization of a few key players in this issue. Both Peter Parker and Scorpio are shown as being somewhat inept, but earnest in their respective roles as superhero and villain. A prime example of this takes place when Scorpio makes his getaway from his getaway from the Zodiac Vault.
As you said, Drew, he’s in a hurry and hustling his way outta there. However, instead of making some grand escape on a helicopter with guns blazing, he has to settle for lifting a nearby police car. Along the way, he utters self-motivating slogans like “I can do this!” which makes him endearing because he just seems so much like common folk. Similarly, Spidey is is back in rare form and delivering his trademark humor by bemoaning the fact that he had to fly coach from New York to London. Like any good employee passing the buck (which has been all of us at some point in our lives) he blames Scorpio’s escape on this fact. This verisimilitude, for lack of a better word, instantly makes me like these guys and want to follow them in more adventures.
This propensity for clumsy action rears its head later when Peter throws Scorpio out of Big Ben in a last ditch effort to stop whatever his plan is. It’s a brash move and one that easily could have made Spidey a murderer, but luckily it plays out the way he’s hoping. While this further illustrates Peter’s lovable unprofessionalism, what I like most about this moment is how crisply it’s drawn by Stuart Immonen.
Immonen favors clean lines in his drawings which make the action of the issue always easy to scan and fun to read. Just look at the first panel in the page above and marvel at how he took the time to draw all of those splintered, shards of glass. That’s a time consuming feat, but it pays off as these same shards help illustrate the velocity and direction of Scorpio as he’s being tossed out of the Big Ben. The pairing of Immonen’s artwork with Peter’s blundering ways makes for a pretty entertaining read.
There is one part of this issue that remains a quandary to me, though. Drew, you mentioned how there’s a subplot that runs throughout this story involving two goons hired by Norman Osborn to steal the Carnage symbiote. A lot of ink is spilled for these nameless goons and I’m struggling to see why that’s the case. Instead of book-ending the issue with their initial attack and delivery of the the symbiote, we are treated to seeing them constantly throughout the issue. But why? Certainly they seem like a couple of badassess, but that only makes me feel like should know who they are and raises questions about their origin.
Here, they’re able to prevail in a fight in which they are outnumbered 2:1 like it ain’t no thing. More, the look they exchange they in the third panel suggests they know each other well and that they have some sort of relationship with one another. These aren’t the actions of just some random mercenaries. Paired with how much narrative is spent following their actions, I hope they are developed later as important characters in this series. If that proves true, awesome! If not, then this issue will be poorer in retrospect. Only time will tell on that note, but I won’t procrastinate when it comes to reading the next issue as soon as it comes out.
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