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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.