“The Devil and the Details”
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Emma Rios
Colored by Javier Rodriguiz
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
THE PLOT: After avoiding an attempted rebound hookup from Spider-Man, Felicia Hardy a.k.a. the Black Cat is arrested for, would you believe it, burglary. Spidey has his doubts about her guilt, and consults Daredevil for assistance.
LONG STORY SHORT: Felicia breaks out of the Paddy Wagon and flees custody. DD and Spidey follow what Spidey thinks is a kidnapping, but turns out to be hologram projections. The enter the sewer and come out to meet the Black Cat. To be continued in Daredevil #8.
MY THOUGHTS: This was precisely everything I abhor in a modern day Spider-Man comic.
I’ve gone on about my feelings on Dan Slott’s run on a regular basis since getting the review job, but the guy isn’t the worst Spider-Man writer ever. He has his quirks and I have my preferences, but from what all I’ve read of his run by and large, he does get the character of Peter Parker at least marginally. Little touches like having Spider-Man wanting to help out the Shocker or feeling guilty about Marla Jameson’s death, and even denying the cure for his spider powers when offered by Madame Web are examples of Slott understanding Peter Parker’s mindset on a fundamental level. There are still things I don’t care for, but I can understand Slott’s mindset in writing Amazing Spider-Man the way he does. It’s taken me this issue to realize the true benefits of the past year of ASM, and after reading #677 I found myself missing Slott desperately. While he may see Spider-Man in a different light than I might, he does at least understand him.
Mark Waid doesn’t get Spider-Man at all.
I knew this issue was going to hurt the moment I read the preview, and the worries proved to be justified. If there is one thing that is consistently and virulently wrong with the title of Amazing Spider-Man in the past four years, it’s the concept of Peter Parker the loser. I understand the mindset he’s supposed to be the everyman that loses as much as he wins. He can’t enjoy continuous life victories at the end of every story because that’s not the conceit the series employed when it began in 1963. Where the writers have missed the mark is that Spider-Man’s downsides in his life weren’t due to him as a person, they were due to life itself. The randomness of reality accounts for the same burglar that Peter let go having shot his Uncle Ben, or the misjudging of the web-line having snapped Gwen Stacy’s neck, or the happenstance of Captain Stacy being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s like Two Face said in The Dark Knight “The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance.” When the book focuses on Peter’s misery and acts as though he’s the sole catalyst for it, the book misses the entire point of the character and becomes an unsavory, irritating read that invalidates all reason for investment in Spider-Man in the first place.
The opening thought caption is wrong on so many levels. First, “At last, my romantic life was great” is incorrect when you consider how many women he’s been with. Second, Peter was never in love with Carlie Cooper. As recalled on so many occasions in the past, the guy barely spends any thoughts on her. This whole scene is forced melodrama because Peter hasn’t spent any moment until now caring about the fact that he and Carlie broke up. All he cared about was her knowing his secret identity. Now Steve Wacker had this to say about the criticism of Peter’s thought process on CBR.
“It’s pretty human for someone to have ups and downs. Feeling better one day than they do the next. I’ve read 50 years of Spider-Man comics like that actually.
Again this criticism is a reach. “
If we are to accept that thought process going in, it still doesn’t account for the fact that this is the first we’re hearing of Peter’s sadness. He’s interacted with Carlie since they broke up immediately after and didn’t think twice about it. There was no “You know, I really miss her” thought that sprang in his mind and extrapolated, nothing. It’s inconsistent, and even if it’s been done before doesn’t excuse it being done again. False pathos written in for the sake of being pathos, and frankly Peter seems more sad about being single than he does about being separated from Carlie. How are we supposed to take this? Does he want Carlie? Does he just want a girlfriend? Is he sad about how he and Carlie broke up? What’s the deal here? I know Waid’s coming onto this book fresh after Slott had established the relationship between the two in the previous issues, but it is way too jarring of a characterization change to just roll with.
Speaking of characterization, Spidey’s awkwardness and nervousness around the Black Cat, someone who he’s been with on several occasions and last they saw each other he was fine was more limp writing for the sake of showing how bad Spider-Man is at apparently everything social. This is actually one of the few instances post-BND that I like how the Black Cat was being written, but it was at the cost of Spider-Man coming off like a complete and utter doofus. Why? If he wants what Felicia’s got, why doesn’t he just flirt and she turn him down? What does the stuttering and bad dialogue serve towards the story other than making Spider-Man look bad? I really don’t understand. When you’re in a store and you see Spider-Man merchandise, you imagine the mindset of the marketing seeing kids want to play with the Spidey toys and own the Spidey shoes and enjoy Spider-Man’s character because he’s funny and smart and always has something fun to say. At what point does that translate to being a complete joke in the source material? When Captain America and Thor and Iron Man and Hulk are all marketed, they’re all boiled down to their bare essentials in terms of general concept personality wise. Hulk Smashes, Cap commands, Thor rhymes and Iron Man…does…something. Conversely, when you read their comics you don’t see every lousy aspect of their personality amped up to the hilt. They’re pretty much how they’ve always been-nuanced, developed characters. For whatever reason, Spider-Man as seen by Marvel cannot stand up to that state of dignity and must be viewed as a crappy super hero so that we can stick the “everyman” label on him. Because somewhere along the line, relatability turned into flaunting our flaws rather than accepting them and not letting them keep us from what we wanted to obtain in life.
Am I wrong? Are my statements incredibly misinformed? I genuinely don’t think so, but it’s certainly possible. I back up my reasoning by pointing out how Spidey blew what little secret identity Daredevil had to go on by screaming for his help in his Matt Murdock guise in front of a co-worker. Again, what purpose did that serve? It’s self explanatory. Plus, Spider-Man already knows the deal with Matt trying to keep his identity a secret.
I love Daredevil, and I love whenever he and Spidey team up. They’re two of my favorite Marvel characters, and they almost always work great together. Here, it was masturbatory how much Daredevil was made to look cool compared to the bumbling Spider-Man, and that was awful. The art (which on a stylistic side I appreciated but ultimately didn’t care for. I thought Spider-Man’s mask was completely wrong.) made DD always stand tall, look cool and confident, and generally come of as hard and erect to Spider-Man’s consistently soft, scrunchy and overall ineffectual body language. Waid has been doing great work for Daredevil on his own title, but when he comes over for one issue on ASM, I don’t think he should get away with that. The writer of one superhero coming onto another title and making the first hero look so much better than the one who own the title…that’s just wrong.
Were there any positives in this issue? Well, I did like how Felicia was written, as well as DD. But all of it was undone by the utter pillaging of Spider-Man’s character. As such, there are no redeeming qualities to this issue in my opinion. Absolutely none.