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. Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
It’s easy to vilify crossover events for disrupting your favorite series, but that’s kind of the point, right? An event that boasts “everything changes here” should be disruptive to the universe around it — that’s just making good on that claim. The feeling that the story we were reading has been put on the back burner is definitely frustrating, but it’s exactly what would happen in the event of a Earth-shaking change in the status quo. But there are ways to soften the whiplash effect of event tie-in issues, and Amazing Spider-Man 29 features just about all of them. Actually, it might be to precise to pin it on this one issue — while this is the first to explicitly acknowledge the events of Secret Empire, so much of what happens here spins out of threads writer Dan Slott has been spinning for years. In many ways, it feels less like the event forced a change to the series and more like the changes that were coming all along were given a fresh twist by tying them to Secret Empire. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Clone Conspiracy 1, originally released October 12th, 2016. As always, this article containersSPOILERS.
The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
Drew: The Ship of Theseus, as this thought experiment is commonly known, is often used in science fiction to address the notion of personal identity — that is, how much of you has to be, say, cybernetic before you are no longer yourself — but I actually think the key to the problem Plutarch laid out is that the ship isn’t a person. The question of whether or not a partially-replaced thing could be called the same thing is an interesting question, but I’m less inclined to think that a person’s identity is tied up in the provenance of their body parts. Moreover, I doubt anyone would assert that someone who receives a liver transplant is even a little bit a different person (especially since our livers are constantly replacing old cells, and best estimates suggest a full turnover of liver cells happens every 1-2 years). I’d suggest that the inverse is also true: that someone’s identity can change without changing their bodies at all (besides their liver, obviously). Point is, identity is much more complex than the simple summation of our body parts. For colloquial evidence, we need look no further than Dan Slott’s work with Spider-Man, where characters’ identities might inhabit other characters’ bodies (or octo-bots) without any real questions about who is who. That’s not to say issues of bodies and identity can’t get messy, just that it takes something a little extra to take us there — something like Clone Conspiracy. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 1, originally released October 7th, 2015.
Spencer: If you’re reading a Spider-Man book, then you know his deal: “With great power must also come great responsibility.” For Peter Parker, his “power” has always been the superhuman abilities granted him by a bite from a radioactive spider, but are these abilities truly his greatest asset? It’s a question Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli tackle head-on in the newest Amazing Spider-Man 1. Skipping ahead eight months from the conclusion of Secret Wars, Slott and Camuncoli present us with a version of Peter Parker who’s found a way to honor his Uncle Ben without even needing to put on a mask; in fact, Spider-Man now exists mainly to protect and support Peter. It’s a take both radical and faithful in a way only Dan Slott could pull off. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 18, originally released May 6th, 2015.
Love fades. But things? Things last forever.
Tom Haverford, Parks and Recreation
Spencer: We live in a materialistic society that oftentimes tries to convince consumers that the key to happiness and success is simply owning a lot of stuff (thanks a lot for that, Don Draper). For these Tom Haverfords, their entire identity is wrapped up in their possessions, but even those who reject consumerism have to rely on their possessions to provide sustenance, clothing, and shelter. Yes, “things” are important to everyone, even if it’s in drastically different ways. Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Humberto Ramos’ The Amazing Spider-Man 18 pins both its stories on the power inanimate objects hold on their owners, and just as we’ve discussed, Parker Industries means something far different to its employees than Black Cat’s vast collection of stolen goods means to her. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 17, originally released April 1st, 2015.
O, I am fortune’s fool!
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Drew: Of all the heroes in Marvel’s pantheon, Peter Parker might be the most defined by his passivity. I don’t mean to say that he never takes decisive action, just that it’s almost always reactionary. Heck, he doesn’t even play a key role in his own origin — the spider bites him, then Peter lets the robber get away instead of doing something. This manifests itself in his perpetual bad luck, that is, outside forces that always make his life harder. It makes for great drama, but after a while, it also starts to paint Peter as kind of incompetent. Why is he always stammering for a cover story? Why is he always facing off against the same bad guys? Why is he always running out of web-fluid? The smartest part about The Superior Spider-Man was pointing out these obvious areas for improvement, shaking up the formula ofSpider-Man as we know him. It was an exciting development, but Peter’s return to his body was also a return to form, failing to capitalize on many of Otto’s inarguably superior developments. Amazing Spider-Man 17 finds Peter coming up against some of those age-old problems, but this time, Anna Maria doesn’t have the patience to watch him keep bumbling through them. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 3, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Patrick: If you go back and read our discussions on Superior Spider-Man, you’ll notice that one thing keeps popping up over and over again: what it means to be a hero. The concept of Otto’s identity, and how it melded with the concept of Spider-Man, was something that we brought up on a bi-monthly basis. I mean, if you look at our very first discussion of the series, Drew starts with the line “What does it mean to be good?” Writer Dan Slott was so good at putting Otto in situations that challenged both his heroism and his villainy, and it changed who Spider-Man is and how Spider-Man operates. With Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat, it’s becoming clear that some of those changes don’t wash away with a quick mind re-swap. Issue 3 finds Spider-Man — and everyone else — dealing with this latest discrepancy, and not everyone’s so happy with the restored status quo. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, originally released May 21st, 2014.
Spencer: I’m a pretty big fan of Doctor Who, and one of my favorite aspects of the show is that its premise has infinite possibilities; the writers can literally take the Doctor to any location or time-period they can imagine. The only problem is that the network created a rule that every episode has to feature a monster of some sort. This isn’t a huge deal — monsters are an essential part of the Doctor Who mythos — but it becomes rather frustrating when there’s an episode that doesn’t need a monster, but has one shoehorned in anyway; at its best it’s distracting, but at its worst it can derail episodes completely. Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from a similar problem; while the scenes about Peter are quite enjoyable, everything about Electro’s inclusion feels shoehorned, and it threatens to derail the entire issue. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 28, originally released February 26, 2014.
Patrick: There’s a persistent tension inherent to any narrative based on a lie or secret between its characters. Writer Dan Slott has been successful enough at fleshing out who exactly Otto is in the body of Peter Parker, so the issue of “will anyone find out what’s really going on?” often takes a back seat to Otto’s superheroic machinations. And yet, that tension is still there: that’s not Peter Parker, and the truth is going to infuriate people. Secret-based stories basically have two options if they’re to last — 1) reveal the mystery and let the characters deal with the ramifications of that revelation (as in Mad Men or Breaking Bad) or 2) string the mystery out ridiculously straining credibility (as in Dexter). With an end-date to the Superior franchise in sight, Slott breathlessly catapults Otto toward option one. It’s an invigorating thrill ride as all of Otto’s chickens come home to roost.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 27, originally released February 12th, 2014.
Spencer: One of the most enjoyable aspects of a writer having a long run on a title is watching elements from earlier issues resurface in surprising ways later on down the line. I think perhaps my favorite example of this is in Jon Rogers’ pre-reboot Blue Beetle run, where Jaime Reyes managed to bring back weapons, plans, and allies from nearly every one of his earlier adventures to use in his epic endgame against the Reach. It brought a nice sense of closure and finality to the proceedings, not to mention made for a thrilling game of “catch-the-reference.” I got a similar feeling from this week’s Superior Spider-Man, where plot points writer Dan Slott has been seeding for the past 27 issues begin coming back en masse, both to Otto’s relief and to his detriment. Continue reading →