Finding Strength in Others in The Amazing Spider-Man 800

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spider-Man has one of the most iconic, expansive, and enduring supporting casts in all of superhero comics, and that’s a fact Dan Slott has used to his advantage throughout his long tenure on The Amazing Spider-Man. He especially leans on his supporting cast in issue 800, the penultimate issue of his run and the grand finale of “Go Down Swinging.” It’s an issue all about the power of the people in Peter Parker’s life, be it the power he gives them, or the power they give him. Continue reading

The Art of the Tie-in: Amazing Spider-Man 29

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 29

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

Indestructible Hulk Special 1

hulk special 1Today, Greg and Taylor are discussing Indestructible Hulk Special 1, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the three-part Arms of the Octopus story.

Greg: A friend of mine asked me the other night, “If a guy teleported in front of you, told you he was a time traveler, and asked what year it was, how would you respond?” We’re both comedy folks, so I imagine he was looking to start riffing. Yet rather than fire off any number of instinctual punchlines (“What year is it? Why, it’s Christmas Year, sir!” is one of the many perfect ideas I had), I decided to pause, think, and mull over what I, Greg Smith, human being, would actually do if that actually happened.

“I would probably try to ask him who he was, stammer out panicked words, and then fall over.” And that truth, over any dumb joke I could’ve invented, made him laugh.
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All-New X-Men Special 1

all new x-men special

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing All-New X-Men Special 1, originally released October 2nd, 2013. This issue is part of the three-part Arms of the Octopus story.

Patrick: No matter how well superheroes puncture the zeitgeist, there’s always going to be a stigma around actually reading comic books. Both the medium and the genre have a ton of idiosyncratic problems, and even those of us willing to suspend our disbelief to read stories about muscly warriors putting on pajamas to punch each other in the face — a suspension which is largely worth it — struggle with the way stories are distributed. Extreme serialization leads to long epic, emotionally fulfilling stories, but it also means you get entire months where nothing really happens. On the flipside, extreme episodism leads to easily digestible stories that leave little lasting impact on the reader. Mike Costa’s Arms of the Octopus seems to have its sites set somewhere in the middle, combining the fun escapism of something like A+X, with the more meaningful stories from the series it borrows its titles from. Continue reading

Age of Ultron 2

age of ultron 2

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Age of Ultron 2, originally released March 13th, 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.


Ethan: In recent years, after the financial markets fell screaming into their perennial nosedive, the city of Detroit hasn’t done so well. Workers who had spent their lives with a company were laid off, branches were closed, businesses died, buildings were abandoned. Over time, the violence of the changes and departures faded as the temperatures, wind, and microorganisms went to work. Materials that we associate with longevity — brick, stone, even plastics — took on a distinctly alien appearance of decay. The effect even got a name — “ruin porn” — and photographers from across the country flocked to capture the scenes. Reading through the second issue of Age of Ultron evokes the same mix of wonder and horror, albeit the decay is in much fresher stage, and the characters are fictional. Bryan Hitch continues to deliver impressive vistas of metropolis in its death throes, and writer Brian Michael Bendis fills these images with sparks of life as the heroes try to find their place in the new world.

Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 4

superior spider-man 4

Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Superior Spider-Man 4, originally released February 20th, 2013.

Mikyzptlk: We are now four issues into Dan Slott’s Superior version of Spider-Man. The first three issues brought into question the ideas of identity, nature vs. nurture and just how creepy it is for Dr. Octopus to date Mary Jane Watson while wearing a Parker suit (Answer: VERY CREEPY). Fortunately, that last question has already been laid to rest allowing Slott to continue his examination of identity in issue 4. We also get a reintroduction to Spidey’s biggest villain of all time. That’s right, The Big Wheel! Ok. No. But, seriously, I’ll get to him in a minute.   Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 3

superior spider-man 3

Today, Patrick and Drew  are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 3, originally released February 6th, 2013.

Patrick: You know, this series has been making us ask one question over and over again: How will this set-up change Spider-Man? Still super early in its run, the series has turned its gaze inward, exploring not only how this out-of-body affects Peter but Otto as well. Fighting crime may be a shortcut to glory, but it also means Otto turning on his friends. That makes for some startlingly compelling psychology. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 2

Alternating Currents: The Superior Spider-Man 2, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 2, originally released January 30th 2013.

Drew: Comics are about big conflicts — right vs. wrong, good vs. evil — but it’s rare to see them tackle the more complex subject of nature vs. nurture. Part of that may simply be that it would muddle the simple, primary color notion of good guys fighting bad guys, but I think the larger reason is that it’s a difficult conflict to dramatize. For adults, the root cause of their evil behavior generally isn’t as bad as stopping it, but even when writers take pains to explore the forces of nurture through flashbacks, there’s no real way to demonstrate nature. It’s a microcosm of the debate as a whole — how can you ever eliminate either as a variable? — but can lead to fascinating questions. With issue 2, Dan Slott has poised The Superior Spider-Man as the perfect place to explore those questions further. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 1

Alternating Currents: The Superior Spider-Man, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 1, originally released January 9th 2013.

Drew: What does it mean to be good? Is it about thought or action? That is, does a good person have only good thoughts, or are they simply keeping their bad thoughts from influencing their actions. The popular notion of a conscience as a little angel on your shoulder (or well-dressed cricket, depending on who you ask) suggests that we expect even the best people to consider less-than-savory options, even if they don’t ultimately act on them, but it’s ultimately one that we don’t see dramatized very often. Peter may want to stick around for his date with Mary Jane while a bank heist goes on up the street, but there’s never really any doubt that he’ll be jumping out the window in the next page or so. Otto Octavius doesn’t have that sense of duty, so when he battles with his conscience in Superior Spider-Man, we’re not exactly sure who is going to win. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 700

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 700, Mikyzpltk and Drew

Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 700, originally released December 26th 2012.

Mikyzptlk: I’ve always heard that, for writers, endings are the hardest part of a story to write. Most of the time, comic book writers who are helming flagship characters like Wonder Woman or Spider-Man don’t have to worry too much about coming up with an actual ending for their characters. Sure, they definitely have to come up with an ending to their story arcs, but that’s a far different thing than coming up with an ending for the characters themselves. This week, Dan Slott finds himself in the unique position of writing the ending (yeah right) of not only The Amazing Spider-Man but of Peter Parker himself. Continue reading