“What Ifs” in Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man 304

by Taylor Anderson

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

One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation involves Worf and parallel dimensions. In it, Worf is returning to the Enterprise from a Bat’leth tournament and through a bizarre set of circumstances finds himself transporting to different versions of his universe. In one, he’s married to Deanna Troi. In another he goes from placing first in the Bat’leth tournament to ninth. In yet another, he’s responsible for the inadvertent death of Goerdi La Forge. It’s a fun episode because it sets familiar characters and settings against an unfamiliar backdrop. This “what if” is a favorite of every Star Trek show and the same goes for comics. That being the case, you think I would be tired of the conceit, but the very opposite is true — I love it.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Fun With Familiar Ideas in The Amazing Spider-Man 799

by Spencer Irwin

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

The end of a creative team’s run often finds the team building to a story that spans their entire tenure on the title, bringing together all their loose ends into one grand climax. Dan Slott, though, has simply been writing The Amazing Spider-Man too long to realistically do that; in fact, he’s tied up most of his long-running plots over the last few storylines, instead using much of his final arc to return Peter Parker to a kinda-sorta classic status quo for future creators to play with. Slott, though, has always found quite a bit to mine from classic status quos, from familiar plots and the immutable core of his characters. Even stories as well-known as “Norman Osborn returns to terrorize Peter and Harry” and “Spider-Man and Goblin fight” find a new life under Slott’s pen, and that’s no different in The Amazing Spider-Man 799, which finds Slott and Stuart Immonen tackling these familiar stories from new angles, from different perspectives, with a few surprises hiding up their sleeves. Continue reading

Peter’s Problems Outpace His Growth in Amazing Spider-Man 798

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 798

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

I had a college professor who liked to talk about “the ascending spiral groove thang” — the notion that we tend to cycle through the same problems, but always with our previous experience informing each new iteration, turning that cycle into a kind of spiral staircase. It’s an elegant idea that helps turn the hopelessness of facing down the same issues again and again feel like an opportunity for improvement. It’s an idea that Peter Parker embodies almost perfectly, vowing to improve (if never quite perfect) the decisions that led to the deaths of his loved ones. But what if those problems have an ascending spiral groove thang of their own? What if Peter’s problems are getting smarter and more mature along with him? That’s exactly what he’s up against in Amazing Spider-Man 798, as Norman Osborn returns with the Carnage symbiote. Continue reading

Out of Sync Spider-Men in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 302

by Taylor Anderson

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

In Back to the Future, Doc tells Marty that he can’t interact with a younger or older version of himself because it could disrupt the fabric of spacetime. In other stories, if someone sees themself from another time, it might cause things to explode. In yet other stories, characters can see their future or past selves and everything is A-OK. This is the case in the Spectacular Spider-Man 301, which means Past-Peter and Present-Peter can battle bad guys together. Sounds like a two for one special, but is this special event worth it? Continue reading

Differences of Time Travel Opinion in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 301

by Michael DeLaney

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

What would you say to your younger self if you had a chance? Would you try to change the future or just enjoy the literal stroll down memory lane? Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 301 does a little bit of both, actually. J. Jonah Jameson and Peter have traveled back in time a little earlier than their target date and have some time to kill. Peter spends it thwipping webs with his younger counterpart while Jonah enlists his younger self to track down The Tinkerer. Continue reading

Amazing Spider-Man 797 Does What Only a Comic Book Can

by Spencer Irwin

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

I was initially drawn to comic books simply because I loved superheroes, and wanted to find more stories about them. Story is still probably my favorite part of comics (or anything, really), but over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the specific strengths of comic books as an art-form, the things they can do that no other medium can. Dan Slott and Stuart Immonen certainly understand those strengths, as their Amazing Spider-Man 797 revolves around a sequence that just wouldn’t work on TV or in the movie theater. Continue reading

Old Habits Die Hard in Amazing Spider-Man 796

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 796

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

There’s a concept in psychology of the “repetition compulsion,” which essentially lays out a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy for our neuroses. A straightforward (and non-pathological) example would be an introvert avoiding big crowds, which in turn prevents them from developing comfort around (or at least strategies to cope with) big crowds, which in turn encourages them to avoid big crowds, but this phenomenon can be seen operating at everything from our smallest habits to our biggest problems. Lest this sound too fatalistic, those cycles of repetition can be broken, but my actual point in bringing them up is just to emphasize how cyclical our lives can be — even when embarking on a new adventure, our old habits may force them to resemble our old adventures. Such has long been the case of superheroes, whose new adventures are in part only marketable because people liked the old adventures, so leaning into those repetition compulsions (even the destructive ones) is a logical choice.

Writer Dan Slott has always managed to keep a remarkable balance between the old and the new, repeating enough to keep his characters recognizable, but changing enough to keep the stories exciting, largely by changing the big patterns (Pete’s job, relationship status, identity, etc) but holding onto the small ones (Pete’s talkativeness, bad luck, sense of responsibility, etc). But with issue 796, Slott and co-writer Christos Gage begin folding some of those larger repetitions back into the mix, suggesting that Slott might just be putting the toys back in place as he hands over the reigns of the series he’s been writing for over a decade. Continue reading

Spider-Man is Finally Funny Again in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298

by Michael DeLaney 

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

I know that Dan Slott’s fans are legion, but I’ve gotta say that Chip Zdarsky might be the heir apparent to the Spider-Man mythos. Despite the sometimes too-high concept “data blood” plot, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 298 accomplishes something that a lot of other Spider-Man stories don’t: it made me laugh. Continue reading

Peter Parker Sacrifices Action in Spectacular Spider-Man 297

by Patrick Ehlers

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 297

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

Peter spends the majority of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 297 out-smarting, out-punching, and out-maneuvering both the NYPD and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mintz. And he does it all while being underpowered and trying to keep his identity a secret. It’s the kind of Spider-Man story that wordlessly plays in the fantasies of Spider-Man fans — scrape after scrape, close-call after close-call, until he finally escapes. It’s thrilling, wonderful stuff. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert use this issue to set up these thrilling heroics as the stakes of this arc, rather than the actual substance thereof. Continue reading

Big Changes Come Naturally in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 6

by Spencer Irwin

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

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 6‘s big twist was spoiled for me before I could read the issue, but even in isolation it was a fascinating choice that legitimately surprised me. The fact that Chip Zdarsky was allowed to make such a move showed me that Marvel has quite a bit of faith both in Zdarsky as a writer and in Peter Parker as a title where big important things can happen, rather than just a humor-focused alternative to the flagship Amazing Spider-Man. The moment works even better in context, where it comes at the climax of an issue-long debate and argument between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson. Continue reading