Clashing Tones in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

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

It’s hard to separate a character from the types of stories they inhabit. Indeed, it’s an idea that doesn’t even really make sense in most media, where characters tend to inhabit just the one story, but it kind of runs amok in comics, where there are countless forces pushing characters into other types of stories. There’s crossovers and cameos, which will pull the guest-starring character into the (potentially very different) tonal world of the home series. There’s cross-media franchises, which will accentuate the parts of the character that best suit the medium, whether it’s an action movie, a video-game, or a kids cartoon. And, perhaps more than anything, there’s the monthly grind of telling yet another story with this character, inspiring creators to think outside the box to find something new and exciting to show us. Those forces compound over the decades, such that a given character is less defined by the type of stories they inhabit than the range of stories they could inhabit. Such is the case with Spider-Man, who is so famously versatile to have teamed up with basically everyone in the Marvel Universe, has appeared in countless film and television iterations, and often stars in multiple comics series at once. Even so, there seem to be a few types of stories that Spider-Man isn’t quite suited for, as The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42 illustrates. Continue reading

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Mulligans Are Good in Golf, Not in Amazing Spider-Man 795

By Taylor Anderson

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

Anyone who knows anything about magic and time travel knows there’s always cost for either of them. Use magic to help yourself out, and you better bet your ass that some ironic malady will strike you later. Use time travel and you better be prepared for the consequences caused by your mucking up the time-space continuum. But if you’re Loki, these rules may not apply to you, and in that case, why not mess with both? He does just this with Peter Parker, but with there being no consequences to these actions, it seems like a pointless gesture in more ways than one.

Continue reading

Amazing Spider-Man 794: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Taylor Anderson

Amazing Spider-Man 794

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

I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, cause I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. “What about getting up after five hours sleep?” Oh that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy.

Jerry Seinfeld

Drew: I’ve never heard anyone defend procrastination. We know it’s stupid and lazy, passing off the problem on our future selves, but we still do it, anyway. Charitably, we might describe this as some kind of prioritization or planning maneuver, but more often than not, it’s just putting off whatever work needs to actually be done. But here’s the thing: there are rarely any consequences for procrastination. I mean, sure, you might put writing your term paper (or government budget) off so long that you completely blow your deadline, but so long as you don’t fall into that trap, procrastination is more of a recipe for annoyance than it is failure. Case in point: Spidey’s delayed showdown with Scorpio in Amazing Spider-Man 794. Continue reading

What in the Ever Loving Hell is Happening in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 299?

by Taylor Anderson

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 299

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

You know those Russian dolls where you find smaller and smaller dolls inside one another until you’re left with just a tiny, little one? Sure you do — everyone knows about them even if they might not know that they’re called Matryoshka Dolls. Well what’s the opposite of these dolls? One where the dolls somehow continue to get bigger and bigger in some brain-twisting way that defies physics and space? I doubt there’s a name for such a doll, but if there was one, it would be called Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 299. Continue reading

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

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

Peter Gets a New Set of Great Responsibilities in The Amazing Spider-Man 791

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 791

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

“With great power must also come great responsibility.” Every Spider-Man fan knows these words as well as Peter Parker himself, so you’d think we’d have a good handle on what it means. And we do, to some degree — Peter’s superhuman powers demand that he take on superhuman responsibilities — but much of the tension comes from how all that superheroing clashes with the other responsibilities in his life. Writer Dan Slott has always kept that aspect of Spider-Man in mind, giving Peter more personal and professional responsibilities than he can really keep track of. It’s a juggling act we’re all familiar with in our own lives, and Amazing Spider-Man 791 finds Slott adding one more that clearly means a lot to him: publishing deadlines. 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