Osborn Can’t Get Out Of His Own Way in The Amazing Spider-Man 32

by Spencer Irwin

Amazing Spider-Man 32

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

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are arch-enemies, right? While both men have faced many opponents in their lives, nobody gets in their way, nobody riles them up more than the other. It makes sense, then, that when faced with the prospect of fighting his “own personal demon,” ol’ Norman Osborn would immediately assume that this refers to Spider-Man. In Amazing Spider-Man 32, though, Dan Slott and Greg Smallwood seem to be insinuating something entirely different: that Norman’s own personal demon may just be himself. Continue reading

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It’s Hard to Take Peter Seriously in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

The fact that Chip Zdarsky would be writing his own ongoing Spider-Man series intrigued me from the moment it was announced. Zdarsky’s sad-sack take on Spider-Man was one of the most consistently funny gags in Howard the Duck, but seemed difficult to translate into the star of a monthly title. Even now that we’re three issues into Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man I’m honestly still not 100% sure how it’s worked out. Zdarsky and Adam Kubert ace the series’ humor and have come up with some interesting plots, but their Peter Parker is almost too stupid to function. Continue reading

Stripping Down to Basics in Amazing Spider-Man 31

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 31

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

This volume of Amazing Spider-Man has always been about amplifying Uncle Ben’s famous mantra that “with great power must also come great responsibility,” forcing both global power and responsibility on Peter Parker’s shoulders. It’s an elegant way of further dramatizing Peter’s relationship to that mantra, taking a naturally street-level character responsible for resolving international conflicts and global pandemics. But, as with any change in superhero comics, this new status quo came with an expiration date — even if we didn’t know what it was. Amazing Spider-Man 31 doesn’t necessarily represent the end of Parker Industries, but it returns Spider-Man so convincingly to his platonic form that it’s easy to see it as the conclusion of that particular chapter of Peter’s life. Continue reading

Prioritizing Responsibilities in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

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

It’s always easy to score political points against the president by suggesting they’re spending too much time relaxing. Folks of every political persuasion have made this argument at some point or another, and it always sounds reasonable because the President obviously has more important things to be doing. With great power, as the saying goes, must also come great responsibility. But of course, even Presidents are people, and while we should certainly hold them to a high standard in terms of workload (that it’s a stressful job is part of the job description), expecting them to never take a vacation is inhumane. This is a point Peter Parker has always fluctuated on. He obviously respects the responsibilities that come with his powers, but he’d also like to be a human being with a fulfilling professional and personal life. Usually, that means he’s constantly running out on dates or jobs to save the day, but Chip Zdarksy and Adam Kubert find a decidedly different approach in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2. Continue reading

Exploring Thematic Connections to Secret Empire in Amazing Spider-Man 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

The current arc of Amazing Spider-Man is a direct tie-in to Secret Empire, with its opening scene even taking place during the Free Comic Book Day issue and with Otto’s newfound might largely coming from Hydra resources. This story is ultimately more concerned with Peter and Otto’s battle for Parker Industries, but even there Dan Slott and Stuart Immonen are able to create spiritual and thematic connections to Secret Empire. Continue reading

Gags as Story Engine in Spider-Man Master Plan 1

by Ryan Mogge

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

Long before Betty was in a coma, Archie one page gags filled my favorite digests. The form is simple: a few panels establishing the premise, a few panels executing the idea and then a twist usually capped with a pun. While Spider-Man: Master Plan 1 is certainly more fluid than a series of one pagers, it has the same rhythm throughout. 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

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 28

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 28, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 28, originally released July 7th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

Drew: When we’re frustrated with superhero comics, we’ll sometimes blame the serialized format for robbing endings of any tension (or even mocking the very idea of “endings”) — as much as a given comic may try to convince you of the danger its hero is in, we all know they’ll be back to fight again next month. And actually, genre conventions are much more prescriptive than that, generally insisting that the villain also live to fight again (though maybe not until the hero has cycled through the rest of their rogues gallery). I added the caveat of “when we’re frustrated,” because I ultimately don’t think anyone’s assessment of a story comes down to how rote certain genre conventions are — predictable stories can be great, and unpredictable ones can be terrible — just that we might misidentify (or overemphasize) “predictability” as the reason for disliking a given story. Writer Dan Slott may be most famous for throwing those presumptions out the window, but Amazing Spider-Man 28 reveals just how adept he is at making even the most familiar genre conventions feel exciting. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 25

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 25, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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