The Amazing Spider-Man #679 Review


The second and final part of Slott’s whack at a time travel story has a lot more of his trademark silliness bogging it down than part 1 did, but it does have some value despite the overwhelming amount of facepalm-inducing material. A touching MJ moment (my weakness, as anyone who read my Spider Island reviews will know) helped it redeem itself a little in my eyes.

The Amazing Spider-Man #679: I Killed Tomrrow Part 2 of 2 — A Date With Predestiny

Words by Dan Slott

Pencils by Humberto Ramos

Inks by Victor Olazaba

Colors by Edgar Delgado

Letters by Joe Caramagna

If you’re the last person on earth who hasn’t seen Back to the Future, skip this paragraph, because I’m going to use a spoiler to make a point. At the end of the movie, Marty is trying to make sure his parents still get together in the past so that he won’t cease to exist, right? There’s a lot of suspense because time is steadily running out and Marty can see himself beginning to fade in the photograph, and the audience is thinking, oh man, how are they going to make this work? There’s no time left! When that limp loser that is Marty’s dad suddenly finds the strength to stand up for himself, go in for that kiss, and save the day, it’s a genuine shocker. That’s a great way to resolve the tension because nobody in their right mind ever expected such balls from a character who until that moment could barely even talk to a girl. Now, imagine if, instead, the resolution was that it turned out Marty had the wrong dance. “Oh, oops!” he goes. “Hey Doc, turns out my parents get together at the next dance. Looks like we’ve got a while longer to plan!”

That’s how part two of this time-travel story opens: Spidey realizes the watch stopped at 3:10 A.M. — yes, rather than P.M. — meaning they actually have another twelve hours to figure out how to prevent New York from being destroyed. Interestingly enough Slott even acknowledges how infuriating this cop-out is through Grady, who is so put out about the pointless stressing that he nearly decides to let Spidey figure out how to save the city on his own. This isn’t a big deal, of course. It’s hardly something that could break a story. But it’s kind of a let down. I was hoping for something clever.

You just ate up time trying to change a paper… for a side continuity?!

For a while, I thought I was going to hate this issue, because there are so many things wrong with it. Let me pick them apart. This is going to be negative for a while, but it does get better.

I did really like that the Flag Smasher plot turned out to be a red herring. That’s the kind of trick you should be pulling in these time travel stories. Unfortunately, the scene itself left a lot to be desired. Like so much that Slott has written lately it’s severely lacking in anything but goofiness. And sometimes Slott can really tickle me; I’m not trying to suggest the guy is never funny. Some of the quips he’s come up with in past issues for Spidey have been classics. Unfortunately, the best he can muster here is, “Have you been to my favorite state? The state of UNCONSCIOUSNESS!” Yes, really — someone wrote that, and someone else published it. There’s nothing that’s actually exciting about this scene because Slott obviously chose Flag Smasher for this role just to make a joke of him, and while it makes sense Spidey should be able to trounce this guy, did it need to be by pointing out that his robot arm was made in China and thus can be easily ripped from its socket? The real problem is that there’s just no tension at all in this scene, because as Grady points out, this bomb can’t be the source of New York’s destruction in the future because now we’re way too far from 3:10 A.M. So with no real action to speak of, and foreknowledge that this bomb isn’t the solution, what’s left?

A lot of the time Slott likes to throw in pointless cameos as well, and Silver Sable here is definitely a prime candidate. I’d thought, when she appeared last issue, that maybe she’d have some kind of involvement in where things went, but no. All she does is provide fodder for a “Har har, Jameson’s out of touch” joke and then… kiss Spider-Man? Wait, what?

Yes, his spider sense comes in handy when defusing that bomb. Sable’s about to cut the wrong wire, but since there are only two choices it’s pretty easy for Pete to jump in and stop her when his sense warns him. And she says, “on behalf of the people of Symkaria, please accept this reward,” lifts up his mask and kisses him. This still has me scratching my head as I’m writing it, trying to imagine what was going through Slott’s mind when he wrote this. Now, I will say that it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve read any Spider-Man comics that Sable appears in, and I’m not sure if I’ve read very many of them. But I’m pretty sure this is out of character. And what’s worse is this, “on behalf of the people of Symkaria” thing. So she’s kissing him for all of her citizens? People just don’t do things like this. Perhaps there is some kind of precedent for it that I missed, but I’m fairly certain Spidey and Sable were never involved in any way. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

So after disarming the bomb still doesn’t do anything, and we never see any kind of reaction to that nonsensical Sable kiss, Spidey figures he’ll go to the Daily Bugle and ask Robbie to write everything he does that day in the paper, thinking it’ll give him more material to follow in the Bugle he has from tomorrow. It takes another magic appearance from Madame Web to point out the obvious to him, that this won’t alter the paper he brought back because it’s already with him. It’s bad enough that Web was used as a contrived device to prevent him from bringing in the Avengers last issue — that was at least based on her future seeing powers. This is just a waste of a couple pages for her to appear, point out Peter’s erroneous time travel logic, and confuse Robbie, I guess as another gag? And I know it’s the obvious question, but… why can’t she look into the future to see what he’s supposed to do to save New York? This character just gets stupider and stupider the more she is used.

So all Spidey has left to do is go on patrol and try to do as many super hero things as possible, hoping he’ll inadvertently save New York. He saves a guy from choking on a hot dog, and… stops an escaped tiger? And he says, “you can haz web burger.” Worse than Mysterio playing Angry Birds, or not? I don’t want to think too hard about this one.

I think I’m supposed to be here, with you.

Up until now it probably sounds like I hated this issue, but I actually still enjoyed the way it ended up resolving things, and not least because there’s plenty more opportunity for speculating about alternate timelines and all that kind of fun — but I’m guessing nobody wants too much of a rant about that this time, right? Well, let me put it this way. Even though the details of this issue featured a lot of the stuff that’s bothered me about Slott’s run very prevalently, the whole arc of the story itself is still something that kept my attention and that I’m still thinking about. Even though false alarms like the 3:10 mixup or the Flag Smasher’s plot being a dead end had execution problems, the fact that they were there did do the job of driving me towards the end of the issue to find out what was really going on, which is exactly what they were supposed to be doing. No matter how much I winced at poor dialogue, I never for a moment stopped wanting to know what the actual solution was going to be in the end.

And there are outstanding issues here that I’m still having a great time thinking about. For example, I love pondering the question of whether “Bad Tuesday” was always a possibility, or Peter “created” it by stepping through the door and observing it. Think about this: 1) Theoretically, New York was going to be destroyed because of something he wasn’t around to do when he stepped through the door. 2) What finally clues him into the thing he has to do is the conversation he has with MJ. 3) That conversation clues him in because MJ makes a comment she wouldn’t have made if he wasn’t preoccupied trying to figure out what he’s supposed to do. 

So… when Peter stepped through the door, was New York destroyed because he didn’t have the conversation with MJ, or was he going to solve the problem before that? Did the “solution” to preventing Bad Tuesday change when Peter walked through the door or was he always going to walk through it, switch things to Bad Tuesday and then realize how to fix it later?

I’m sure that there are more questions you could raise about this story if you wanted to, and that’s why I like the convoluted messes that are created by time travel fiction. There are all kinds of interpretations you can put on them. I have my own that I’m definitely slapping on “I Killed Tomorrow,” and if you’ve been paying attention, you probably have a pretty good idea what it is. 

Pros:

  • Kept me interested in the solution up until the end, and even after I’d finished.
  • Another very nice appearance by MJ that once again shows Slott really does get how vital she has become to Peter. I really want to see her appearances get more and more frequent again — this book needs her desperately right now, marriage or not.

Cons:

  • Endless amounts of stupid in this issue really worked against the things I liked about it by constantly annoying me, leaving it just passable. Once, just once, I want to see Dan Slott write a serious Spider-Man story. I really think he could do it if he actually tried.

Grade: C+

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(21) Comments

  1. Erika

    Hi colleagues, how is everything, and what you want to say about this article, in my view its truly amazing in favor of me.

  2. K-Box

    @16: Please point to how my feelings on Slott invalidate any of the specific criticisms I raised. You will either find them accurate or you won't, based upon your own reading of the exact same issues that I've read. If you can point to areas in which you see flaws in my assertions, that's another matter entirely, because at least then, you're addressing the substance of my comments. But by focusing on me, you're doing what you're heavily implying that I'm doing, which is engaging in ad hominem as an excuse to ignore what I actually wrote. As my own blog can well attest, I engage in heated disagreements even with my friends, so I've got no issue with that, but please, especially coming from a poster such as you, who's made some excellent observations on occasion, and whose posts I look forward to reading even when I disagree with them, I feel like I'm entitled to a bit more fairness than this. Let's not let this become a *thing.*

  3. MisterFear

    @#18 Yes there was a "What if" issue that had Spidey and Sable romantically linked. (80's? 90's?) I figure if an alternate universe version of Spidey and Sable can hook up, then it's just as equally likely that the Sable of 616 may secretly have a crush on this version of Spidey as well. (She always seems to go out of her way to recruit Spidey for various missions when there's just as many other viable superhero candidates.) Didn't bother me in the least.

  4. Ceres

    Didnt we had that what if issue where Spidey and Sable got married ? Anyway Slott really loves his '' will be dated in 2 years'' jokes. 3 outta 5 future newspapers from me.

  5. Dan

    I always said that Spider-Man x Silver Sable would make a great team. There has always been tension between them. In comparison to The Punisher, Silver Sable would rather have Spider-Man by her side than him. And the first alternate relationship to the Black Cat that I wanted to see was Silver Sable and Ms. Marvel because I felt that both women were interested in Spider-Man. A strong love interest for Spider-Man usually starts off wanting to hunt him down like a dog who is looking for her prey to combat him. The Black Cat was the first to do just that. And Spider-Woman x The Black Widow already got the chance to fight Spider-Man. But Silver Sable is a welcome change for Spider-Man, which was long overdue. I hope that the tension continues between Silver Sable and Spider-Man in future stories.

  6. K-Box

    The problem is that there's really no middle ground — Slott is either out-of-character wacky hijinx and wannabe-hip pop culture references that were painfully dated before he even wrote them down, or else it's eye-roll-worthy overwrought SRS DRAMA like killing off longstanding supporting cast members so that Spidey can scream "NOBODY DIIIEEES!!!" Because, you know, stopping people from dying TOTALLY wasn't a part of his character BEFORE. And I'll say it again; the time travel plot was NOT clever. It read like Slott was trying to be Steven Moffat, and failing badly.

  7. spideytothemax

    I feel like there's always been a teensy bit of tension between Spidey and Sable that could be tapped if that was the way they wanted to go, but I think it would take a LOT more than this brief encounter to get anywhere close to stoking that fire. In this scenario I think she'd be more comfortable cutting him a check or offering him further work if she wanted to thank him. Nice to see Peter acknowledge that his grief over Aunt May's death is entirely situational. As long as he perceives that he has played no part (as has happened at least twice in the past that I can remember) he is fine with it. It hurts, of course, but it only becomes unacceptable when he perceives that he is somehow involved. Nothing new there, but I think it's interesting that Peter specifically says that he won't have her death on his hands/conscience, and not that she just simply won't be dead like everyone else he knows and loves.

  8. Peter

    I think the Vulture story had a serious tone. It started off with a young impressionable, misguided youth falling to his death on the pavement, and it kinda keeps that feeling of unease throughout, from the awkward Carlie-Peter relationship to the mean-spirited way Toomes handles his flock. I'd say the Vulture has never been meaner or nastier then he was in that one, and he seems like a legitimate threat to Spider-Man for the first time in ages.

  9. Erik Lexie - Post author

    I agree with a lot of what you've got there. I also really like what Slott's done with Horizon, and I think when his run is over that's easily going to be considered the best part of his contribution to the character. I hope it will continue to be a part of his life unlike what happened with his job as a teacher, which I also really liked and was disappointed to see go. And I agree completely that he is great at writing Pete and MJ together. Definitely a huge part of why I want to see her back more often. However I really strongly disagree with you that the humor was good in this issue. The Heimlich maneuver joke made me smile. The headlines joke did nothing for me though -- as far as I'm concerned I've read enough "you're just like Jonah Jameson says about you in his newspaper!" comments that they've just worn off. And if you like web burger, well hey, everybody's tickled differently. But as for that Sable kiss, it doesn't matter if he's going somewhere with it... it was still out of character. And, really, "a kiss for the hero saving the day," if you want to be old fashioned like that, would normally be a peck. This looks like she's getting some tongue in there. It is just not believable. So, what more could I ask for? I think a lot. I could ask for threats, plots and fights that aren't treated like one big joke and hence have no sense of urgency to them. I understand what you're getting at, and I know that Slott's fans appreciate the "fun" aspect he brings to his comics. My argument is that there is too much of this and too little of anything else. A lighter, cheesier, more humorous story every now and then is fine. But Slott's stories have been over the top and goofy for ages now, and it's really starting to wear me out. At any rate, like I said, the story had redeeming qualities as well and I consider it entirely passable. I feel that your praise may be a bit excessive, but I appreciate your thoughts.

  10. Peter

    Silver Sable does appear in the "Ends of the Earth" story arc, so isn't just a random cameo. Maybe he's going somewhere with that kiss, or maybe it's just a thank you. I thought it was alright way to cap off the sequence, a kiss for hero saving the day, then its off to the next wacky thing. I like the "haz web burger" line, although its probably something that isn't gonna age all that well. I think Slott fares better in the situational humor, like right after that line. Spidey asks why the HECK didn't the people he just save from a crazed escape tiger call the Daily Bugle, and they chastise him for looking after himself and headlines. My favorite skit in this sequence was Spider-Man helping a guy choking on a hot dog. "Did that change anything!?" "No, Spidey, your Heimlich maneuver did not save the future". Grady has become one of the better supporting cast members Slott has introduced. He's a Peter Parker co-worker who's tech-savvy enough he can help out Spider-Man. He get's a nice ending set up from the first issue, where he realized he's not as unimportant as he originally thought, and played a vital part in helping saving New York City. I hope Slott keeps using more and more of the Horizon Lab workers like he did here and in Spider-Island, instead of just set dressing. Some of Peter's most important supporting cast members come from his old job at the Daily Bugle(Jonah, Robbie, Betty), there's no reason you can't get his new boss and co-workers into the mix as well. I agree with the earlier comments that the MJ-Peter scene was my favorite. Slott understands just how rich the history is between these two, and their interactions are oftentimes the best part of the issue, as they are here. I couldn't help but smile at the play-on words between MJ and Peter, her talking about their relationship and Peter thinking about her current doomsday predicament. You get an insight into both situations, and maybe some hints for the future. Slott has a plan for Mary-Jane Watson, and he's been putting it into motion since his first story arc. It's a fun sub-plot that makes me even more anxious to see where he goes with it in "Ends of the Earth". "I Killed Tomorrow" continues the streak of short but smart Spidey comics Slott has been producing. Slott can do "serious", like the "Nobody Dies" two-parter of ASM #655-656, but I'm enjoying these short funny stories, because I think that's what Slott is best at. The Vulture two-parter, this time travel story, the upcoming two-part space adventure with the Jonahs and Human Torch; they're all concise Spidey stories with fun humor, nice artwork, good usage of the supporting cast, and builds on sub-plots while always remaining accessible. What more could you ask for?

  11. Sthenurus

    The highlight to me was the scene with MJ. Say what ou will, Slott really nails the chemistry between those two.

  12. Enigma_2099

    To be fair, it's just a kiss... it's not like they COMPLETELY CHANGED HER CHARACTER SO SHE'S ABOUT NOTHING BUT SEX...

  13. Javi Trujillo

    I always kinda felt Sable had a respect for Spidey, but also kinda looked down on him as he was a peasant or servant to her royalty

  14. The Lament Beast

    “Have you been to my favorite state? The state of UNCONCIOUSNESS!” I would have went with “denial”… So Sable's smooching up Webs… Never saw that coming. ~Lament~

  15. Brian Bradley

    nice review! time travel stories make my head hurt just thinking about all the reasons and questions you presented. This one was engaging though, and I agree I like how they reached the conclusion. Really glad we get these two part stories every now and then... especially since they schedule big eight arc stories every 4-5 months. I wasn't a fan of the web burger line, just because I feel like of all the current pop references slott makes, such as Gaga and Angry Birds, this would be the one that may not translate well years down the road. Angry Birds and Gaga are pretty well known, but internet memes and jokes don't fit to me.

  16. Enigma_2099

    Spidey told the Tiger you can haz web burger? By god, go to fark.com on a Saturday, engage in a Caturday thread, and you'll realize that line's actually funny.

  17. Phantom Roxas

    I'm only familiar with Silver Sable through Shattered Dimensions, but that alone was enough to give me the impression that the scene in this issue is ridiculously out of character for her.

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