THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #653 Review


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #653

“Revenge of the Spider-Slayer, Part Two: All You Love Will Die”

Plotter: Dan Slott

Scripter: Fred Van Lente

Penciler: Stefano Caselli

Inker: Stefano Caselli

Colorist: Edgar Delgado

“Lock and/or Key, Part Two”

Writer: Fred Van Lente

Penciler: Reilly Brown

Inker: Victor Olazaba

Colorist: Andres Mossa

Cover Art: Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

I was a big fan of the previous issue, giving it my highest grade to date as reviewer of the title – 4.5 out of 5 webheads.  I recommended it to anybody that was apprehensive about jumping aboard again, stating that it was a good point to jump in and test the waters again.  Does this issue continue that winning formula?

NOPE!

The Plot

Continuing from last issue, Alistair Smythe’s spider-slayers continue to wreak havoc on Andru Air Force Base, disrupting the shuttle launch and attacking members of the Jameson family and their closest friends.  Spider-Man calls the New Avengers for help, but this time they are unavailable.  Max Modell and his associate Mr. Muntz try to help, and Max begins to suspect something about the connection between Peter and Spider-Man.  Spidey tricks the Scorpion into damaging the fuel intake on one of the boosters, which activates the safety protocols.  Doctor Octopus, observing the occurrences with a remote octobot, uses the machine to assist the astronauts on board as part of his heretofore unknown plans.  The boosters disengage from the shuttle, leaving Spider-Man and the Scorpion in freefall.  Spidey is saved by the fortuitous arrival of Ms. Marvel and the other New Avengers, most of whom engage the spider-slayers at the base.  Spider-Man concocts a plan to protect both the Daily Bugle and the two Mrs. Jamesons (Aunt May and Marla).  The plan works to some extent, but Spidey needs to backtrack to Horizon Labs in order to build a gizmo to cancel the spider-slayers’ warning sense – which causes him to run right into an answers-demanding Max Modell.

In the backup story, Spider-Man and Power Man team up to stop the Looter from stealing a Freemason meteorite hidden beneath Federal Hall.  Oh, and a tentacle monster tries to rape Spider-Man.  (The previous sentences are not a parody.  That is the actually what happened.)

The Good

Like last issue, this book is nice to look at.  Both the main story (illustrated by Stefano Caselli and colored by Edgar Delgado) and the backup (penciled by Reilly Brown, inked by Victor Olazaba, and colored by Andres Mossa) feature beautiful artwork and crisp coloring.  Though I found the colors on the main feature to be a little too mute, and at times Caselli’s linework strayed too close to the Ramos side of things, it was another solid effort all around.  The real standout this time around was actually the coloring on the backup – they literally popped off of the page.

The stakes remain high, so the issue has a degree of tension not unlike the previous issue.  It was a bit more subdued this time around, mainly due to the inclusion of the New Avengers, but there is still an underlying sense that something could go awry.  It’s a big adventure, with a huge set piece and smaller altercations throughout.  Spider-Man and friends solve on big problem, but the danger doesn’t end there – it simply moves onto several smaller problems that build to a climax.  It’s a well-structured and fairly entertaining story.

There are two minor things that I really liked in this issue, and I’ll mention them here.  First, Robbie seems to be releasing his inner Jonah on the Daily Bugle crew in one scene.  It’s actually pretty funny that he would take on some of the leadership characteristics that he openly criticized his previous boss for.  I feel like this is a running subplot in the making.  Second, Slott gives us a tease of sorts with the appearance of Doctor Octopus.  I like it when seeds like this are planted in a story, and I like it even better when it has some minor impact on the story at hand.  We get a small hint of an upcoming Sinister Six story, and Ock acing as a mover in this arc is a bonus.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there was a lot to dislike in this story.

First and foremost, the appearance of the New Avengers left me with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, it’s good to see that Slott has chosen to address and utilize both Avengers teams in the title.  On the other hand, bringing in the Avengers changes the tenor of the stories in a way that is unrecoverable – in other words, this ceases to be The Amazing Spider-Man and instead becomes The Amazing Spider-Man and Friends.  Those are two different books.  This also causes problems for later on, because featuring the Avengers teams so much in the early going will inevitably lead to questions of “Why didn’t Spider-Man call the Avengers to help him with X?” in most every story from here on out.  This also cheapens the quality of Spider-Man’s victories, because chances are he will always win because of somebody else.  Case in point: Spider-Man didn’t save the shuttle – Doctor Octopus did.  In fact, Ock probably could have saved the shuttle regardless of whether or not Spider-Man caused the safety overrides to kick in.  The same thing happened in the previous arc with the Black Cat’s bad luck powers, which are implied to have led directly to the victory.  As fans, we want to see Spider-Man overcome the odds and win.  Instead, we get to see Spider-Man blow the whistle so his friends can come in and win for him, and that’s just weak.

For all of the “Peter Parker is a genius!” stuff that we’ve been getting so far in Slott’s run, he sure does seem to do a lot of dumbass things in this book.  For example, he tries to fire his webs while attached to a rocket hurtling through the atmosphere at incredible speeds, which anybody with a basic knowledge of physics should know is impossible.  (Speaking of basic physics, this issue has a real doozy in it that I’ll leave for the end.)  Later, he suspiciously calls for Aunt May first in the spa, and then he stumbles right into Max Modell at Horizon Labs.  Seriously, this guy is acting like a Class-A moron!

The backup is a waste of time and effort, but it is what it is.  We had better get used to worthless backups from here on out, judging from the fact that Slott is already in trouble with deadlines.  (Fred Van Lente actually scripts this entire issue.  It’s worth noting that Slott is known for working in the traditional Marvel Style, which involves writing a plot for the artist that is to be scripted near the end of the process, after the penciler has already drawn the issue.  Van Lente is simply doing the work on the back end, so this is still very much Slott’s story.)  By the way, guys … I don’t think I ever needed to see THIS in a Spider-Man comic:

The Ugly

You may recall that all objects on Earth, whether they be on the surface or in the air, are constantly acted upon by the Earth’s gravity.  If you took physics in high school or in college, you may remember a few specifics.  You see, the Earth’s gravity can be expressed as the product of an object’s mass multiplied by a constant commonly signified by the letter g – this constant is known as the gravitational constant, the acceleration towards the planet’s center of gravity which is located at the Earth’s core.  This is a key factor when considering things like, say, free-falling, because it expresses the fact that a falling object will continue to increase in velocity at a constant rate as it hurtles towards the surface.

THEY DO NOT CONTINUE TO FALL AT THE SAME SPEED.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “But Gerard, surely the gravitational constant isn’t that significant, right?”  Wrong.  You see, that gravitational constant is about 32 feet per second squared.

Let’s do the math.  Gargan claims that there’s no difference between falling from thirty stories and from seven miles in the air, because it’s “maximum velocity.”  Of course, there’s no such thing, because of the constant acceleration of gravity.  Anybody that remembers high school or early college physics is probably aware of the constant acceleration equations.  We can easily apply one of them in this case, because we have a constant acceleration, g.  (We’re assuming negligible air resistance, since they’re just people, and that the initial falling speed is zero, since it’s a free-fall.)

By the time Gargan hit the ground, he could be falling at over a thousand miles an hour.  I’m pretty sure that he would be jelly if he hit the ground at that speed, regardless of how powerful his little tech suit is.  By contrast, if he fell from a thirty-story building, he would only be going about a hundred miles an hour on impact.  BIG difference.

Yes, I know that I’m a nerd, and that people are inevitably going to do the usual “BLAH BLAH BLAH it’s comics!” routine, but if you’re going to try to revolve the book around scientific ideas, you should at least try to get some basic physics right.

CrazyChris-inspired Edit: Yes, I’m aware of the concepts of terminal velocity and air resistance.  The only point of this little exercise is to illustrate with some classical physics that there is a large difference between jumping from seven miles up and jumping from about 300 feet, like Gargan suggests.  Terminal velocity and air resistance would not be a factor at a height as low as 300 ft. — you would need to jump from a height of around 2000 feet for an average human.  Gargan’s body and costume would make him a much larger density than a standard human, so his terminal velocity would be much, much larger than that of an ordinary human.  Plus, we have to consider that the atmosphere in the wake of the shuttle is much less dense than normal (owning to fluid displacement) and that the remaining atmosphere is also at a much higher temperature due to the burning of the engines, which would make the molecules more apt to “stand aside.”  Additionally, curled up into a ball like that, with a suit that possibly has some positive aerodynamic effects, makes it so that the factor of drag would be lower than normal as well.  (Not “breaking the speed of sound” low, but hey, pobody’s nerfect.  😛 )

The Bottom Line

I was disappointed by this one, because I liked the start of the arc so much.  This isn’t terrible, but it’s pretty mediocre.  2.5 out of 5 webheads. 

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