“The Substitute” part two
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Reilly Brown
Inked by Victor Olazaba
Colored by John Raunch
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover art by Ed McGuinness and Morry Hollowell
“INFESTED: Stage 3” Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Emma Rios
Inked by Javier Rodriguez
Colored by Edgar Delgado
Letttered by VC’s Joe Carmagna
“INTRODUCING: MAGNETIC MAN IN ‘THE CHOICE'”
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Javier Rodriguez
Lettered by VC’s Joe Carmagna
Assistant Editor: Ellie Pyle
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor in Chief: Axel Alonso
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
THE PLOT(s): Spider-Man fights of the mind-controlled Avengers Academy members after the Psycho Man manipulated them with fear. A man gets powers and does nothing to help stop a house on fire. Magnetic Man is released from prison and has a hard time adjusting to life as a convicted felon.
LONG STORIES SHORT: Spider-Man manages to save the kids and the day by defeating Psycho-Man. Peter Parker runs into the Magnetic Man, who was on the brink of resuming his criminal career, and offers him a job at Horizon Labs.
MY THOUGHTS: After a somewhat confusing last issue, I’m now on board with what’s going on in this arc. It’s really no more than the sum of its parts, that being Spidey and a bunch of angsty teenagers fight a guy who can bring their worst self-doubts about themselves out in the open. It’s a very, very simplistic story that in all honesty should be just the right type of tone ASM should be striving for. There were no ridiculous showings of trying to skeer towards older readers with sensationalistic content, no this was a nice a small super hero story that had a simple premise and ended it simply. For this title, it shouldn’t be much to ask.
I may be coming off condescending towards the issue, but I don’t think there’s much to say beyond that. I actually enjoyed it for what it was, and I appreciated Gage’s interpretation of Spidey. I like the fact that he had Spidey analyzing how to approach fending off the AA kids whilst still trying to defeat Psycho-Man. He’s not thinking of dumb non-sequiturs, he’s prioritizing what he needs to do to save the kids life. Again, this shouldn’t be too much to ask but it garners high praise during an era where Spider-Man doesn’t seem to be that effective anymore. So I definitely liked how Gage wrote Peter, although he did make him a little bit too self-depracating at times. It’s par for the course in this era, and it was mostly for a cehap gag like the ending so I didn’t mind it as much.
There also seemed to be a sense of relatability towards Peter and the Academy which didn’t come off as totally forced. Of course Spidey was saying things about how he’s been in similar situations where people believe in him or don’t believe in him, but the story restrained having an illustrated comparison between past issues and recents issues to hammer it home. Yet again, I’m giving praise to something that is not extraordinarily innovative. It goes to show just how jaded I’ve become with ASM in the past few years, but let’s not be negative. This all and all was a solid, entertaining issue. It was a fighting issue in which very little happened, but it was decent in doing just that.
Reilly Brown continues to be a welcome artist on this title. His style reminds me of Marcus To who is kicking all kinds of butt on Red Robin right now, but it also has the asthetic appeal that seems broad enough to belong in a Marvel Adventures title. It’s just as well, because this story would be right at home with that title. Short, sweet and effective, I wouldn’t be surprised if this popped up in a digest next year.
The one thing I didn’t care for was the ending. It was cheesy, predictable and not very funny. Spider-Man throws himself on a cross, blaming himself for everything that happened and swears never to teach again. Cut to the Academy hooping and hollering that it “was the best day of school. EVER!” The reason I don’t care for this is not so much that it’s cliche’d, but that its unwarranted. Why oh why is Spider-Man blaming himself for the Psycho Man fight? True he took the kids out on patrol, but they ran away. The Psycho Man was going to run into them eventually. And he saved all of their lives while helping them to believe in theirselves. It rings hollow that Spider-Man would find this to be a disaster, and even worse when after all the accolades are given and Giant-Man suggest he become their permanent teacher that they all do a face-turn and shout out “NO!” “No”? “No” why? Eh, that pointless.
Again it was meant for a cheap gag and it feels lazy, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker. For what it was, the storyline in a whole was okay.
Now the backups in this issue I found more interesting than the main story. Due mostly for more introspection into the nature of humanity, the third part of “INFESTED” was really cool because it was a blank and stoic look at how people respond to different things in their life, in this instance getting super powers. I really loved this two page story because A) Not a single solitary shot of the Jackal to be found, and B) The scene with Spider-Man rescuing the family did fool me into thinking it was the same family as the narrator Walter’s. But to see him so resolved in not risking his life for his family was a very cool idea. I really have to give Slott props on that one. The brevity of the story helped nail it home. I do wish people would stop saying “responsibility” all the time though. Like Michael Bailey said with bringing up Uncle Ben on a recent Crawlspace podcast, the more often that’s brought up the less the emotional impact. It’s getting to be annoying, but for the sake of the story it worked well.
The final story was great as well. Now first up front, I searched to see if the Magnetic Man was a previously established villain and found nothing on him, so I found that interesting. But while his story of being an ex-con was interesting, especially with the realistic notion that life’s not going to get easy after you get out of prison, it’s Peter Parker’s role that I was most impressed with.
Okay, THIS. IS. PETER. PARKER.
The way that Tieri writes him is so 100% spot on, and I’m not even sure I can articulate how. There was no pandering to Uncle Ben’s ghost, no explicit black and white morality tales. It was just a very sweet story of helping your fellow man, no matter what his past is like. And if anybody should be considerate towards people needing a second chance, it’s Peter Parker.
It just showed our hero in a very positive light without having to throw a single punch to appease the typicalities of the comic book medium. Now this isn’t a first for heroes to do this. I know of at least two Batman stories where the same gag is pulled. But having it involving Peter Parker makes it so much better. When Bruce Wayne gives a former henchman a job at Wayne Industries, it’s simple to keep an eye on him with the amount of resources he has around the buildings. When Peter Parker does it, he almost does it on a leap of faith. It’s a terrific story that reads even better as a one-and-done.
So…I really dug this issue of Amazing Spider-Man. While every issue isn’t going to involve crazy things like Carlie getting a new cell phone or Aunt May going through a string of marriages, it’s nice to read a comic that is a little more than it seems. I’ve read better issues of ASM to be sure, but not in a while admittedly enough.
“The Substitute part.2”-3.5/5 webs
“INTRODUCING THE MAGNETIC MAN IN ‘CHOICES'”- 4.5/5 webs