Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega Spoils Itself

by Drew Baumgartner

Venom Inc Omega

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

How do we feel about Marvel’s “alpha” and “omega” strategy to crossovers? That is, mostly embedding the crossover in already-running monthlies, reducing the event series to just the first and last chapters of the story. They’re harder to skip by design — where you might be able to simply ignore an entire event series, you might be pulled into a crossover if a book you’re following is participating — but that can be frustrating to otherwise disinterested readers. Another downside that I hadn’t considered is that the stakes of an omega issue are kind of necessarily neutered — their inessential nature means they lack the ballast to make any changes that would be too earth-shattering to its participating series. Any big changes must have already happened in the series it would most effect, leaving the omega to tie up the loose ends with as little disruption to the status quo as possible. I don’t love to lead with these kind of meta-critiques of an issue (honestly, most superhero story arcs wrap up with the same kind of predictable return-to-normal), but Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega seems determined to keep it at the forefront of my mind, stymying any tension at every chance it gets. Continue reading

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Heroes and Villains Alike Assemble Their Armies in Amazing Spider-Man 793

by Spencer Irwin

Amazing Spider-Man 793

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

By the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 793 — the fourth installment of Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman’s “Venom Inc.” crossover — the many various players that have filled out this story have essentially grouped into two opposing sides. What’s interesting is the way these factions differ from each other. Continue reading

Middle-Chapter Blues in Amazing Spider-Man 792

by Spencer Irwin

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

The middle chapters of multi-issue storylines sometimes suffer a bit. They’re not a beginning, they’re not an ending — sometimes all they can do is move a few plot points forward, hopefully in the most entertaining manner possible. The Amazing Spider-Man 792, the second installment of Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman’s “Venom Inc” crossover, is decidedly one of those middle chapters, but even in comparison to other middle chapters it suffers a bit. Continue reading

Everybody Wants to be Venom in the Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha

by Spencer Irwin

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

Legacy heroes (and villains!) always present a bit of a conundrum. The inheritors of the mantles tend to bring much needed diversity and fresh perspectives to their stories and quickly amass fanbases, but of course the original characters have lifelong fans who aren’t happy to see their beloved heroes pushed aside, even temporarily. To me, the obvious solution has always been to have multiple characters share names and roles: why not have two Captains America or two Hawkeyes, four Flashes or a million Green Lanterns?

Both this conflict and this solution seem to be the core of Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman’s new crossover event, Venom Inc. It’s a story that finds the various men who have been Venom fighting over their right to symbiote, and which, at least for the moment, seems to be finding great joy in including as many Venoms as possible. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 19

superior spider-man 19Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 19, originally released October 16th, 2013.

Shelby:  Self-awareness is a very important strength to have. You need to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, to exist in the world with other people. Sometimes you need to put your head down and push through a situation, and sometimes (more importantly, I think) you need to know when you can’t do something and ask for the help you need. The problem comes in when the help you need is in the form of erased memories of a man who used to be in the body you currently occupy.

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The Superior Spider-Man 18

superior spider-man 18

Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 18, originally released September 11th, 2013.

Shelby: I think Otto Octavius would be a terrible scientist. I know he’s brilliant, but he’s so arrogant he thinks he’s always right. He’s got no curiosity about anything because he believes he already has the right answer. He doesn’t ask questions or believe he can learn anything from anyone else. It’s a classic villain’s trait, really: the inability to think of the myriad of ways your latest scheme will fail because you are so convinced that you have all the answers. It looks like Otto is finally going to pay the price for his hubris, as his actions today could both kill him and all his friends (or, Peter’s friends, anyway), as well as destroy the future.

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The Superior Spider-Man 17

superior spider-man 17

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 17, originally released September 4th, 2013.

Spencer: So how many of you noticed the name of the mall in Back to the Future? At the beginning of the movie it’s “Twin Pines Mall”, but then Marty travels back in time, runs over one of the former owner’s beloved pine trees, and when he returns to the present it’s now called “Lone Pine Mall.” It’s a clever joke, and part of why I love it is because it’s never pointed out or explained in the movie; it’s up to the viewer to catch it and put 2 and 2 together. Dan Slott takes a similar route in this week’s Superior Spider-Man, using time travel to tell the story of the Stone family, but allowing us to piece together the clues and figure out the story for ourselves. It brings some fun to an issue that could otherwise be viewed as a lot of set-up; the rest of the fun comes from the hints of things to come.

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The Superior Spider-Man 9

superior spider-man 9

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Superior Spider-Man 9, originally released May 1st, 2013.

Ethan: I’m not sure why so many of my posts have dealt with issues of identity lately. Maybe modern comic authors really like to incorporate this theme; maybe it has something to do with the inherent conceit of people donning costumes to play out parts of their life as someone else; maybe it’s just a concept I like to think about. Probably some mixture of all of them. Regardless, in Superior Spider-Man #9 Dan Slott provides a great forum for exploring the ideas of what makes us who we are by throwing science, emotional relationships, and morality into a figurative salad spinner and, um, spinning it.

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The Superior Spider-Man 3

superior spider-man 3

Today, Patrick and Drew  are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 3, originally released February 6th, 2013.

Patrick: You know, this series has been making us ask one question over and over again: How will this set-up change Spider-Man? Still super early in its run, the series has turned its gaze inward, exploring not only how this out-of-body affects Peter but Otto as well. Fighting crime may be a shortcut to glory, but it also means Otto turning on his friends. That makes for some startlingly compelling psychology. Continue reading

The Superior Spider-Man 2

Alternating Currents: The Superior Spider-Man 2, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 2, originally released January 30th 2013.

Drew: Comics are about big conflicts — right vs. wrong, good vs. evil — but it’s rare to see them tackle the more complex subject of nature vs. nurture. Part of that may simply be that it would muddle the simple, primary color notion of good guys fighting bad guys, but I think the larger reason is that it’s a difficult conflict to dramatize. For adults, the root cause of their evil behavior generally isn’t as bad as stopping it, but even when writers take pains to explore the forces of nurture through flashbacks, there’s no real way to demonstrate nature. It’s a microcosm of the debate as a whole — how can you ever eliminate either as a variable? — but can lead to fascinating questions. With issue 2, Dan Slott has poised The Superior Spider-Man as the perfect place to explore those questions further. Continue reading