Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 25, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article containersSPOILERS.
Spencer: As Aunt May herself points out this week, Peter Parker’s always been a busy guy. Add running a major international company to his already impressive pile of responsibilities and it’s almost guaranteed that something will start to give. The massive Amazing Spider-Man 25 digs into that dilemma from all angles, reminding readers of every task Peter’s got on his plate and what’s at risk if he fails at any one of them. It’s an almost overwhelming issue, a trait that effectively puts readers in Peter’s overstressed shoes. 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 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 14, originally released February 11th, 2015.
Patrick: Were any of you paying attention to Twitter when they announced that Spider-Man would be appearing in the Disney Marvel movies? It was surreal: like a piece of super-fan-fantasy mutated into a news item and enthusiastically expressed itself in the middle of the night. On my feed, no one more more elated by this news than Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. He filled twitter with all-caps celebrations — not because he had anything to do with negotiating this deal (nor will he have any role in developing Peter Parker’s role in the MCU), but because he’s a goddamn super-fan. As the impresario and master weaver of Spider-Verse, Slott has had the opportunity to shout his love for all the Spiders from the heavens, and in issue 14, he goes out swinging, symbolically ceding his own control over the Spiders back to the characters themselves. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 12, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Drew: Last week, Patrick and I spent a good ten minutes laughing about The Comic Archive’s “Marvel Movie Omnibus” — that is, all of the Marvel Studios films leading up to and through the end of The Avengers compiled into one mega-movie. Never mind that the thing weighs in at an ungainly 12-hour play-time, what really amused us was the steamrolling of narrative cohesion in favor of what the video description calls “correct story order.” I’ve always been a bit peeved when fans are more concerned with how stories fit together than whether they’re emotionally satisfying, and this struck me as the ultimate manifestation of those priorities. Indeed, flashbacks from Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy are included, even though Malekith and Peter Quill don’t otherwise appear in the movie (remember, this only carries through the end of The Avengers), passing over Chekhov’s gun in favor of boneheaded reportage. The result is a work that is so focused on its whole (however unwatchably long it may be) that it fails to offer satisfying servings, such that any movie-sized chunk of it wouldn’t be a satisfying chapter so much as an arbitrary slice of an indivisible monolith. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I feel about Amazing Spider-Man 12, a slice of “Spider-Verse” that ends up being mostly connective tissue. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 11, originally released December 10th, 2014. Spencer: My biggest pet-peeve with Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was all the business about Hal Jordan being “the greatest Green Lantern ever.” Maybe it’s just me, but it never felt like Hal earned the title or like Johns was providing much evidence to back up his claim — it always came across like a “he’s the greatest because I say so” moment from Johns. I initially feared a repeat of this situation when, at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 9, writer Dan Slott claimed that “our” Peter Parker from Earth-616 was the most important Spider-Man of them all, but fortunately, this week’s The Amazing Spider-Man 11 convincingly demonstrates why our Peter is worthy of leading the assembled hoards of “Spider-Verse”.Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 10, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Spencer: Obviously, the major draw of Spider-Verse is getting to see so many Spider-Men together in one place. It’s easy to think of them all as one homogenous whole — they’re all Spiders, after all — but this group is actually quite diverse, with each alternate Spider holding their own opinions and viewpoints. The readers no doubt want to see these heroes all work together, but what happens when their ideals begin to clash? This is the bread-and-butter of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel’s Amazing Spider-Man 10; from Silk chafing at her strict handlers to the science vs. magic debates of Otto and Old Man Spider, this issue is all about the conflicts that threaten to tear the spiders apart when they need to join together the most. 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 →