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
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
Following only five years after the conclusion of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, the first Amazing Spider-Man struggled to justify its own existence. Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from a different proximity effect garnering early comparisons to the similarly overstuffed and tonally inconsistent Spider-Man 3. Are those comparisons fair? You can bet we have thoughts on that. Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Patrick: If The Superior Spider-Man had us all asking what it means to be a hero (and, by extension, what it means to be a villain), then The Amazing Spider-Man seems poised to ask the question of what it means to be Spider-Man. It is a surprisingly wide question, with seemingly hundreds of discrete answers. What’s it mean to be Spider-Man? Kaine will tell you one thing, Miguel O’Hara will tell you another thing, Peter Parker will tell you something else, and Doc Ock (may he rest in peace) probably wouldn’t dignify the question with a response. Y’see, there are a lot of Spiders out there, and even more Spider-fans; what we want and what we expect from Spider-Man is so varied that even an issue designed to celebrate the hero can’t pick a tone and stick to it. It’s a fascinating, if uneven (and possibly even fascinatingly uneven), exploration of Spider-Man. Continue reading
Patrick: I can’t think of a superhero with a more troubling psychological origin story than Frank Castle. The circumstances are as cliche as they come: Frank’s family is murdered, driving him to take revenge on those responsible. But Frank’s able to abstract that responsibility and extend it to All Criminals. Very pointedly, he is not an agent of justice, and he’s not looking to make anything right — his goals and his ideology are so neatly wrapped up in his code name. Punisher. Obviously, his approach requires a horrifically oversimplified view of criminals, there’s no room for mercy or subtlety. But that also means there’s no room for complication: Frank’s MO is too pure for corruption. The world around Punisher isn’t so simple, and as issue four simultaneously focuses in Frank’s character and broadens out to illuminate his world, it’s clear that he’s up against threats on a scale totally inappropriate for a street-level executioner.
Spencer: As Frank explains in Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads’ The Punisher 2, there’s a strata of villains too big for the cops to handle, but not big enough for the superheroes to take notice of. This is the league of villains the Punisher usually goes up against — the kind that can give him a proper fight — but it looks like all that’s about to change. Not only are the Howling Commandos on Frank’s tail, but the Dos Soles gang also has a powerful new weapon that’s out of Frank’s usual league; this is some definite superhero-level business Punisher’s got himself tangled up in here.