Mark Waid returns to ASM for a new Daredevil crossover story that gets some things as right as you’d expect from a writer of his caliber, and as wrong as you’d expect based on the current climate at Marvel. Its overall strength actually depends on how much you like Black Cat: this is by far her best appearance in recent memory, while the steady and efficient work of trashing Peter Parker in every way possible gets kicked up a notch. Why does Marvel hate him so much?
The Amazing Spider-Man #677: The Devil and the Details Part 1
Words by Mark Waid
World-class, issue-saving pencils by Emma Rios
Colors by Javier Rodriguez
Letters by Joe Caramagna
You know, I hadn’t started reading Spidey on a monthly basis back during the clone saga, so it could be that I’m a bit off about this, but the impression I’m under is that one of the things Marvel wanted to change with Ben Reilly was to be able to have him date a variety of hot women – to create a character who was a bit “cooler.” If that was the case then perhaps it explains what they’ve done to Peter Parker over the past few years, because if he keeps getting forced in the opposite direction at this rate, he’s soon going to be web slinging in diapers. This issue might just top the time that he supposedly thought he got “drunk” on apple juice. He’s freshly broken up and broken-hearted, having been “crazy in love with the perfect woman” (BS, of course, but let’s talk about things we didn’t already know) who just dumped him. So what does he do? He conveniently runs into Black Cat and attempts to suggest that they start up their friends with benefits arrangement again, and he does it with all the class of a fourteen-year-old who’s never kissed a girl.
Whether or not I’ll end up considering this the lowest point of the post-Straczynski Peter Parker is dependent on this story’s followup in Daredevil. Why? Because I’m waiting to see if the spider tracer ends up being a twist. As it stands right now, after Felicia rejects our pathetic protagonist’s clumsy advances and gets home, she finds a spider tracer on her and justifiably wonders exactly how desperate he is. That moment is interrupted by the NYPD, and I have a feeling that even Waid isn’t going to push it this far: I kept waiting for the tracer to come up, but Spidey never mentions it when he’s talking about the situation with Daredevil. My guess is we’re going to find out next issue that it wasn’t Pete’s tracer. Please.
I’m really bummed out that Waid’s going so far out of his way to make Peter look pathetic in this issue, because there are a lot of things I really like about it. First and foremost is Emma Rios. I was tricked at first by that Ramos cover, but it’s a very false alarm: Emma Rios is an artist. In fact, I wish that Ramos would take some lessons from her. She’s stylized in the same way he always tries to go for, but her powerful grasp of anatomy and layout clearly underlies the artistic embellishments she makes. I don’t always like her rendition of every character — there are some panels where I think Pete and Black Cat look a little “off.” But they’re rendered beautifully nonetheless. Where she really shines, though, is rooftop and battle scenes. Her costumed heroes stretch, swing and spread in creative but always believable ways, and the sense of motion and impact she conveys is highly impressive. When Spidey trounces a thug in the book’s opening scene, you really feel the impact of his foot colliding with this guy’s face, you hear the slush of the snow giving way underneath him and you sense the weight of these two heavy bodies coming down on the earth. For the next few pages I was having such a great time staring at the way Rios posed Spidey and Cat as they leaped between buildings that it almost made up for the obnoxious dialogue about how much of a desperate loser Spider-Man is. There’s an even prettier scene where Spidey and Daredevil converse on a rooftop and then have a fastfalling race as they make their exit. The sense of motion and perspective is breathtaking.
I’d also like to point out that Rios’s art is a perfect example of what female illustrators can bring to comics and why we need more of them. I love her rendition of Felicia because she’s proving that it is, in fact, possible to have stylish and sexy women in your comic without tarting them up, and I think that the industry’s male artists all need to read this issue and take some notes. Felicia’s design hits all the right notes here: she’s smooth and sultry, full of confidence and obviously out to look damn good while she’s pulling heists — but she’s not spreading cleavage across every page or shoving her ass out for readers to gawk at. There’s a fine line between a sexy character and an objectified character, and having more women doing art would probably help make that line clearer to the sausage fest that is the comic book industry.
The art was by far the strongest element of this issue, and I would really love to see Rios’s take on Spider-Man again, especially on a book where I like the writing more.
Why so timid? What are you worried about?
As much as I hate Waid’s Peter, I have to give him credit for the rest of the issue. The story is tight and action-packed, with no decompression at all. It’s a rare quality in comics these days that I finish reading and feel like I got a substantial amount of story packed into twenty-two pages, but this issue really delivered in terms of story content. I love a good mystery, and so far Waid’s done a great job of setting it up to keep me interested. I’m looking forward to finding out who would be able to steal from Horizon and frame Black Cat (and, hopefully, plant a fake spider tracer on her — come on, Waid, make me right about this). In fact, the plot itself is so strong that the whole book would have been better if it committed the crime I was so hard on last issue for and left Spider-Man out completely. Because that is ultimately the effect that Waid’s writing of the character has. It makes everyone, especially Daredevil and Black Cat, look cool and competent while Spidey is constantly wrong and making mistakes.
Why is the dynamic between him and Daredevil so skewed that it borders on condescension? Why is Spider-Man his “go-to for full grown men whose voices still crack”? Why is it implied that Daredevil is the smarter of the two because his sonar-sight doesn’t pick up holograms? Maybe it’s all because Mark Waid is writing Daredevil right now, and part two of this story is happening in Daredevil, and… this should just be a Daredevil story, shouldn’t it?
Maybe there’s just no place left for Spider-Man to go in this new age. Maybe this isn’t even Spider-Man, and the real Peter Parker died when Mephisto rearranged the world, replaced with his hilariously bumbling clone sidekick. Why not? Make it so, Marvel. Let’s a get another retcon in here. At this point, it would be euthanasia.
- Gorgeous art from Emma Rios, who needs to start doing more comic work immediately.
- A compelling first-part to a well crafted mystery.
- Why is Peter Parker stupid? Should we bother asking at this point? Does anyone care except Crawlspacers anymore? Does everyone else just like him this way?