Amazing Spider-Man #692 Review


The countdown to ASM 700 begins in earnest with part one of Slott’s “Alpha” story, where Peter Parker accidentally gives  a kid super powers in a fashion eerily similar to his own transformation into Spider-Man. One rule I think all writers should try to live by is not to introduce annoying kids as new characters into established properties. Unfortunately, Dan Slott doesn’t know this rule.

The Amazing Spider-Man #692: Alphia Part 1 — Point of Origin

Words by Dan Slott

Pencils by Humberto Ramos

Inks by Victor Olazaba

Colors by Edgar Delgado

Letters by Chris Eliopulos

I don’t feel like trying to be subtle with this one. ASM 692 is a dull, predictable super hero comic that was a chore for me to get through. It reads like somebody’s bad fanfiction, and it tends to draw all of Slott’s biggest writing weaknesses together and flaunt them obnoxiously.

As soon as it was over, I found myself silently asking, “Why did somebody make this comic? Who wanted this story? Was anything actually said at all?” I still have no answers. 

All the elements of a modern day myth in the making, right? Well, think again, true believer.

The line I’m quoting is from an asinine narrator who holds the reader’s hand through the first couple pages. The next line is “Because this is an all-new tale for the telling.” But that’s nonsense, because this story is as stale as they come. Alpha is a completely bland character who was artificially pulled out of nowhere as a story vehicle.

For example, in order to get to the action as quickly as possible, Slott resorts to having the narrator summarize “things you should know about Andy.” We’re introduced to the character, but we don’t actually get to meet him. We are instructed to dislike his parents, because we are told point-blank that they are negligent and self-absorbed. We don’t get to see them in action and learn that for ourselves so that we can form our own opinions. It’s perhaps the least subtle bit of storytelling we’ve seen since the days when every supporting character in the book was a mouthpiece to tell readers how to feel about Carlie.

Slott even seems to want his narrator to make sure we don’t think Andy might actually have a personality for us to get introduced to. Andy is “No Peter Parker” because he is “not a nerd. Jock. Band geek. Poser. Stoner. Or much of anything, good or bad. He’s just… there.”

There have been plenty of times when I’ve offered a meta interpretation of Slott’s writing as essentially acknowledging its own shallowness as a sort of excuse for itself, but this is by far the most egregious example I can remember. How a writer could introduce a character this boring, and then blatantly point out in his own narration that that’s the case, and not feel the need to change his storytelling approach is beyond my comprehension.

Just wait, they’ll see… I’m gonna show ’em what a real hero can do!

The name “Alpha” comes from Mr. Fantastic’s dialogue as he gravely explains that Andy is bullshit: “In the way that whenever the Hulk, Sentry or the Phoenix attacks… we call it omega-level threat… Andy Maguire is the first alpha-level threat. It’s only a matter of time.” This is apparently because his “power is tied to the very universe itself. It will continue to grow, without limit.” It’s here that the story truly starts to flounder, and where it becomes like bad fanfiction. It’s like when you’re playing a game as kids, and someone new enters the game, and makes out like his guy is infinitely more powerful than everybody else’s and can’t die. 

Naturally, Fantastic and the other super scientists want to keep knowledge of Andy’s powers away from him until he can be groomed into a definite good guy. Because they are all very smart, they decide that he is Peter’s sole responsibility, even though he is apparently, theoretically, The Most Dangerous Thing Ever. And because Slott is obsessed with making Peter do stupid things so that he can feel guilty, he reveals to Andy that he is theoretically The Most Dangerous Thing Ever, which leads in the most predictable way imaginable to him deciding to flaunt his power recklessly without heed to Spider-Man’s instructions. “I’ve created a monster,” Peter laments. But he’s wrong. Alpha doesn’t have enough personality to be a monster. All of his actions feel like they’re happening on rails. 

 Easy. Coming in for a landing.

Who decided that Spider-Man needed to be this? Everything about it feels like Cartoon Network, pseudo-anime, “hilariously wacky” Saturday morning junk. All of the characters are represented in the most shallow way possible: Alpha is the impetuous teen, his parents are Bad People, Spidey is a good-hearted buffoon, and I’m about fed up. Fifty years ago, Spider-Man comics were undeniably corny and campy. They were written with a narrator and meant to appeal to kids. But they were also meaningful, with deliberate pacing and insightful character development. Plots unfolded gradually and engagingly, and over time readers came to know and love the characters.

This vision of Spider-Man is one of constant action, one-dimensional plots and characters, goofy gags, outrageous dialogue and exaggerated visuals. It’s time for the end of an era.

Pros: Very few. There are some semi-amusing lines, like Ben Grimm’s annoyance at Alpha stealing his line and Spidey’s training rules for Alpha.

Cons: Rushed storytelling. Shallow characters from nowhere, who we have no reason to care about. Stupid, fanfiction-level annoying teenage overpowered god-character for no reason. Spider-Man is back to behaving like a well-intentioned moron.

Grade: D

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(33) Comments

  1. Jgc21

    Read the issue last night and hated it so very much. What a major letdown for Spidey 's 50th. However, I'm super motherfriggin' jazzed for the return of Roderick 'no, it was my brother who lost his head' Kingsley! Gidde up fanboys!

  2. Yo Spidey

    Actually didn't mind the issue and Slott actually writes a good Spider-man because he's witty and makes something humorous every issue with an actual bit of intelligence unlike many writers. However Spider-Man has gotta stop being set up as uncompetent to progress a story, he's extremely intelligent and adaptable

  3. Ed.K

    I can't comment about the issue itself since I haven't read it, but I just want to say if Wacker or anyone at Marvel is reading this: those Marcos Martin variant covers need to be made into posters immediately. I would buy all five of those in an instant!

  4. Boomstick

    Aside from the usual number of shills responding here, I can only note my own nephew's response. He's about Alpha's age and a pretty active comic reader (something I've encouraged ). My nephew was monumentally unimpressed by the issue(Ramo's art came in for a particular drubbing) in general and Alpha in particular. Not only that, but he mentioned that his friends who read comics were pretty indifferent to it.

  5. Iron Patriot

    I just read it, and I really enjoyed it. I'm Alpha's age and I get him. I know what it's like being an outcast and hiding in your shell because you don't want to fail but having that little thing in the back of your head saying "I want to actually be somebody" The parents might seem a bit one dimensional, but being big business people, I understand that. My dad is usually away and while we love each other, there is that uncomfortable feeling of "We've probably spent more time apart than together" I'd add more, but the two paragraphs I just typed didn't make a whole lot of sense, so I'll just leave it at that. The art is just incredible. I think this is the best Ramos stuff that I've seen. Dislikes are that bit with the message boards, Peter's narration in the lab was a bit too unsubtle with "Oh no, somebody might die! I was too busy showing off and now somebody could die!" and that Alpha's powers are a bit too much and too undefined. Stronger than the Sentry and Hulk? Uh..no.

  6. Christopher Daniel Kuehl

    I personally loved the entire issue, my thanks to all of the writers. "Alpha" represents another ordinary real life 'peter parker' given access to powers increasing to god-level and the fact that Pete created him is ironic and the new sidekick for Spidey is a perfect idea. That way Spidey won't be alone for a while; he won't carry the hero burden all by himself. And the CHRIS story I'm really happy about, not in a conceited way though. The humor and reallife conversations and dialogue hit home for me. The plots and pictures were special to me, makes me feel a lot better. ;-D

  7. Erik Lexie - Post author

    Mike: Spidey was a lot more consistently good in the 70s, in my opinion. But if you'd like to hear positive thoughts check out my and Don's reviews of the last four issues. We both had good things to say about that arc.

  8. Shaun Martineau

    Is it just me or the images down for everyone? And I didn't mind this story, Alpha reminded me of my 14 year old brother, he can be a douche most of the times, but there is something good kicking around in there and I'm sure we'll end up seeing it. It might not be a 5/5, but hats off to anyone who found a way to enjoy this story that much, this is a form of an entertainment and I would hope somebody would be thoroughly entertained by this. I liked it better than the reviewers because I could draw a personal connection to Alpha, whose to say the other reviewers didn't and graded it higher for it?

  9. boomstick

    Careful, Mike13. Aoid ad hominem attacks. We love comics. If we didn't , w3e wouldnt get so upset when something we love-Spidey-is bad. When something IS bad, we have a right to say it's bad, and this IS (and promises to keep on being) VERY bad. I enjoyed the JMS era, even if I didn't agree with all of it ("Sins Past, the SPider-totem), but JMS's Peter was a perfect balance of experienced youthful and yet wise. JMS's portrayal of Aunt May as a dry, wise, witty woman of substance was a joy to read every month. But, Mike13, NEVER assume we're haters because we-like any other consumer-refuse to pretend a sow's ear is a silk purse.

  10. Mike 13

    I'm glad that you guys weren't reviewing comics in the 70's... I might have hated my lifelong hobby...

  11. Ben Pritchard

    An original premise 50 years into Spidey's history, a story that hasn't been told before in ASM ( Frog Man and Ollie Osnick don't count ) , Spidey gets a sidekick, should be interesting. Ramos' art is growing on me, and I loved the "Parker Particles" , also, the back up strips were pretty good, not sure why they were omitted from this review tho. As for Andy's personality, I'm sure we'll learn more about him in the upcoming issues.

  12. Pete Wiggins

    I'm just baffled. Slott has been in the business for more than 20 years, and yet his Amazing run so far feels more like fanfiction a teenager would write than a seasoned professional (I'll admit right now that I found Tom DeFalco's "Spider-Girl"/MC2 to be rather "fanficcy" for my tastes, but at least some of the emotional bits hit the right chord and had some geniune feeling to them, unlike in Slott's stories). Even worse, he's acting in a most unprofessional manner by using the book to deliberately troll fans in this way (the bit with the message boards was a blatant "up yours"). It's baffling, and kind of saddening to me personally, as someone who really enjoyed his She-Hulk book and his Spidey/Human Torch series. And those CBR/Comic Vine reviews? Sickening. In my charitable opinion, this book needs to be hit over the head with a shovel, tied up in a sack, and hurled into a lake to drown. Just dreadful on every level. Time to dig out the Marvel Adventures: Avengers/Spider-Man trades for some REAL Spidey...

  13. Leunamme

    I really miss the JMS era. The more I think about it, the more I like his run. The things he dealt with were so much more realistic, more fun, and even though everyone might not agree with the mysticism he brought in, overall, it was a unique take on the character and a natural evolution. Dan Slott is really rehashing things from the seventies and the eighties from what I'm seeing. I think the next writer will be a very great one. I want an adult Peter, who has a real grasp on his character doing things that are either cool or more in line with his character. I think Peter should leave the series, I think. The book will not get better until Marvel gets what they want, and either they write Peter off and get a new character arc going, or they do something never done before. Because Peter deserves better. Peter isn't really an adult, he hasn't grown, from what I've seen, and it just makes me sad. I still have no desire to pick the book up. There are plenty of more deserving books.

  14. Erik Lexie - Post author

    Brian: I'm VERY stingy with absolute rock bottom scores, or perfect ones for that matter. Even though I found almost nothing to like about this issue it wasn't quite on the level of making me genuinely wish I had never even opened it up, and/or like it was actively assaulting my senses. That's a rare quality possessed by special cases like One More Day. MacGyver: While I can hardly blame anyone who chooses not to support the book after the decisions Marvel has made in the past few years, the way I see it is that I want Spider-Man to continue and eventually get better, so I'll continue to support Spidey books as long as they're being made (at least within reason). Meanwhile I'll also vocalize my opinions on what's being done with them as much as possible. Slott's run has been very hit or miss, but there have been a decent number of issues I've enjoyed -- far more than there were during the Brand New Day era, which I disliked enough to very nearly quit reading altogether (in fact I did skip a few months during that period and strongly considered never starting up again).

  15. Phantom Roxas

    "Who decided that Spider-Man needed to be this? Everything about it feels like Cartoon Network, pseudo-anime" Considering how Andy has a poster that seems to be of an anime chick and that he has the hots for Chrissy, who naturally he manages to hook up with, I think it's safe to say that it very much IS pseudo-anime. Is it sad that the return of THE JACKAL is what excites me the most about this issue?

  16. BD

    Yeah Comic Vine gave it 5 out of 5 stars. So I guess this is on par with Amazing Fantasy 15? http://www.comicvine.com/the-amazing-spider-man-alpha-part-1-point-of-origin/37-352573/staff-review/

  17. boomstick

    And it's no secret that Marvel has a LOT of influence with TPTB on BOTH sites. This is old news, and it's pretty standard practice for artists/publishers/whatevcer to have (or try to have) influence over reviewers-often more successfully than many imagine. And, as you said, the reviews were supericial. As the Bard said, it is a tale "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

  18. Donovan Grant

    So did Comic Vine, but in my opinon their reviews were on the shallow side in just listing the things that happened and treating those things like examples of genius writing in itself/theirselves.

  19. boomstick

    "Guys! Guys look! See how hip and cool he is! An-and he's super powerful! And he knocked out this guy with one hit! And Spider-Man's TOOOOTALLLY jealous! Guys! Where are you GOING?!? DAMMIT! COME BACK HERE AND BUY THE COMIC!"

  20. MacGyver

    Sorry to hear that people gave up their hard earned money for this "fan fiction"...how many more months do some of you need to be burned. :)

  21. boomstick

    So let me get this straight....Alpha sees NEGATIVE COMMENTS ON MESSAGE BOARDS and THAT is what prompts him to prove he's a "real hero"? Really? REALLY, Dan Slott? No. You are NOT pushing repsonsibilty for YOUR ill conceived pet Gary Stu 's reception onto us. We do NOT take responsibility for this fiasco. No, just, no. And try being a LITTLE less transparent next time, okay? Blaming the fans for not liking a poorly conceived plot device is not the way to go.

  22. Kyren

    the "infinite power growth" thing tells me he is almost sure to die before he gets too strong. Which is probably a good thing, since his entire character has been botched

  23. Jesse Baker

    The only good thing to possibly come out of Alpha is Kingsley chopping off his head when he shows back up as Hobgoblin in a couple of issues.

  24. dr warren

    well at least dan slott had the grace to compare alpha to poochy. that was the best thing about this issue. because he is poochy.

  25. Donovan Grant

    Knocked it outta the park! Well done man! You seemed to be angrier than I was. Yes, this story truly blew out loud.

  26. Alex

    Review was hilarious. "The name “Alpha” comes from Mr. Fantastic’s dialogue as he gravely explains that Andy is bullshit" made me laugh out loud.

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