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 Amazing Spider-Man 18

amazing spider-man 18

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

The Amazing Spider-Man 17

amazing spider-man 17

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 of Spider-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

Spider-Verse 1

Alternating Currents: Spider-Verse 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.

Drew: I tend to jump to conclusions about media before I’ve ever consumed it. I know that seems problematic for someone who reviews media, but with so many movies, shows, and comic books out there, it’s impossible to try them all, so I tend to gravitate towards the ones I think I’ll like. Of course, it’s an imperfect system, meaning I sometimes bet on a dud, or miss something truly great, but without any other way to pre-filter content, I continue to defer to my gut. After weeks and weeks of buildup to Spider-Verse, which seemed to pimp the event as a high-stakes affirmation of Spider-Man’s necessity in not just our universe, but ALL universes, my gut was telling me that this event was not for me, but I decided to give it a fair shot. Fortunately, my gut turned out to be wrong, with Spider-Verse 1 serving not as a herald of doom and gloom, but as a celebration of what makes the idea of Spider-Man so fun in the first place. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 26

superior spider-man 26Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 26, originally released January 29th, 2014.

Spencer: The Superior Spider-Man 26 is unique in that it features three different stories—each illustrated by a different artist, no less—that do not intersect or connect at all throughout the issue. All three plots are building up to the sure-to-be-epic conclusion of Superior, but each also ruminates about identity, whether it be something as superhero-esque as secret identities or something more complex, like how memories help form a person’s core identity. You’ll find it all in The Superior Spider-Man 26, folks! Continue reading

Thunderbolts 20

thunderbolts 20

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing Thunderbolts 20, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Patrick: With issue 20, Thunderbolts enters All-New Marvel NOW! territory. Functionally, this means that this issue should serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers, and the cover broadcasts that in a variety of ways: note that the issue’s number is technically 20.NOW; there’s a second issue number in the upper right corner, declaring this “No Mercy #1”; the All-New Marvel Now logo is emblazoned along the bottom; and finally, the cover prominently features a character that’s not normally on the team. The contents of the issue follow suit, giving us another start to a delightfully self-contained adventure. With it’s one-job-for-you-one-job-for-me structure, Thunderbolts might be the series most perfectly suited for this periodic refreshing of the Marvel line. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 25

superior spider-man 25Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 25, originally released January 15th, 2014.

Spencer: SPOILER ALERT: Peter Parker’s coming back.

Of course, anybody who has been keeping up with comic news in even the slightest already knows this. With news of Peter’s upcoming return in mind, it’s hard to look at The Superior Spider-Man 25 without focusing on just how exactly his return will play out and what it will mean for Otto. Fortunately, writer Dan Slott (assisted on this issue by Christos Gage) is ramping up the intrigue as this book nears its end. I have no idea how this series will resolve itself, but I do know one of the things I’m going to miss most about it: the expansive world and cast of supporting characters Slott has built up around Otto. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 16

superior spider-man 16Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 16, originally released August 21st, 2013.

Spencer: Identities change all the time in comics. Sometimes our Robins grow up into Red Robins or Nightwings; sometimes our Miss Marvels attain the rank of Captain Marvel; sometimes, rarely, Doctor Octopus can even become Spider-Man himself! This week’s issue of Superior Spider-Man again features Phil Urich, the former heroic Green Goblin and the current thief Hobgoblin, as he takes on yet another new identity and begins a new era of his life. What does this mean for Phil, and for that matter, what does it mean for Otto?!

Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 15

superior spider-man 15Today, Spencer and Ethan are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 15, originally released August 7th, 2013.

Spencer: A comic book needs more than just a good hero to work; it needs a supporting cast, it needs villains, it needs a world that feels alive and fleshed out. While super-hero comics exist in a shared universe, the best titles manage to carve a little niche out of that universe for themselves to thrive in, and there are few books on the shelf right now that do it better than The Superior Spider-Man. Otto takes a backseat in this month’s issue as Phil Urich—A.K.A. the Hobgoblin—moves into the spotlight, accompanied by a hoard of heroes and villains alike who want to see him taken down. It’s a blast.

Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 14

Alternating Currents: The Superior Spider-Man 14, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 14, originally released July 24th, 2013.

Drew: Vigilantism. It’s the concept that best describes the majority of comic book heroes. They operate outside of the law, making them criminals. At least, an individual vigilante is called a criminal. Of course, many comics have found interest in growing beyond the individual vigilante — the Justice League, the Avengers, Batman Incorporated — but most of those groups have made peace with their respective governments. What do you call it if a vigilante becomes an army without making nice? In a word: war. Writer Dan Slott brings us right to the brink of war in Superior Spider-Man 14 as Otto unwittingly unites an army against Spider-Man. Continue reading