Amazing Spider-Man #694 Review


Peter wins the battle against Alpha that he never has by finding an unexplained solution in the wreckage of an alien invasion that comes out of nowhere after saving his aunt from a crashing airplane she had no reason to be on.

The Amazing Spider-Man #694

Words by Dan Slott

Pencils by Humberto Ramos

Inks by Victor Olazaba

Colors by Edgar Delgado

Letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Alpha out. Sayonara.

I’ve accused Slott on numerous occasions of making his stories up as he’s writing them, but this latest issue has all but proven it to me. It may seem like nitpicking, but I think that what I’m about to point out is a symptom of what the larger problem is with stories like Alpha.

In ASM #693, May and Jay decide that they’re going to head back to Boston early so that Peter can focus on cleaning up the mess he made with Alpha. May says, “You’ve been so busy, Peter. We thought we’d get out of the way, take an earlier flight back to Boston.” 

Yet in this issue, when Peter discovers that the planes Alpha’s recklessness is knocking out of the sky conveniently include the one they’re on, he does so by recognizing “Jay’s private jet!” So they decided to “take an earlier flight” back on their own plane? Jay is even seen flying it himself. To quote Tony Stark’s film counterpart, “Doesn’t it sort of defeat the purpose of having your own plane if the plane leaves without you?”

Obviously this little flub is not why the issue is bad. But it does point to the real reason. These are not carefully planned out stories. They’re disorganized, aimless and inconsistent; they’re what happens when a writer likes an idea but doesn’t actually have a story to tell around it or a character to fit it.

THE GREATEST SUPER HERO STORY OF ALL TIME! THE BATTLE OF THE HALF CENTURY! 

There is no battle of the half century. The cover of 694 boldly proclaims, “The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Alpha!” Yet the story is The Amazing Spider-Man vs. a Small Jetliner. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Prior to the showdown with the out-of-control aerial transport, we’re reminded yet again that Alpha is annoying and it’s All Peter’s Fault, as our hero slaves away in his Horizon laboratory, trying to figure out how he can remove Alpha’s powers without killing the kid. I was going to criticize this scene for the fact that Reed Richards and Tony Stark aren’t helping, but then I realized that if Peter had bothered to try contacting them, Madame Web would have appeared and told him that he couldn’t, and I was actually pretty thankful to be spared that scene.

So here’s how we get to the fateful airplane showdown. At exactly the right time, Peter decides to abandon his work and go to see May and Jay off. On the way there, he happens to cross paths with the Avengers flying through the air, who just at that minute are about to face off against TERMINUS! and his alien army. These guys are naturally hell-bent on conquering the earth, as aliens are wont to do.

The end result of all this is that Alpha is finally given his chance to overdo it and seal his own fate. Captain America demands that Peter call him in — even though his powers are still not fully understood, he’s not at all trained, and he’s a child — and his overzealous use of his powers results in the shut-down of “every commercial aircraft in a ten-mile radius.” 

So it is that Spidey hurls towards Jay’s private jet, and in a sequence that takes up a whole third of the issue, manages to eventually land it safely by bracing himself against a broken wheel. This is without a doubt the best part of the issue, since it’s just Spidey being Spidey. It’s just another day for him, saving people he loves from impending doom. That’s fine, and there’s even a touch I liked where Jonah thanks him in a rare moment of sincerity — nothing that hasn’t been done before, and wildly inconsistent with the lunatic that Jonah has been for the past few months, but it was done well enough. 

But by the time this was over, I was wondering what happened to the issue. Where was Spider-Man vs. Alpha? Where was the solution to the Alpha problem? With precious few pages remaining, I turned, and there it was:

It was a space thingamajig. 

Well, it’s a lance, one that TERMINUS! apparently used to deflect Alpha’s energy. Because of this, Peter is certain, beyond any doubt, that he can use it to come up with a means of removing Alpha’s powers. It’s all astoundingly fortunate.

What can I say? I’m a Spider-Man of many talents.

Alpha’s story ends exactly as it began: suddenly, and out of nowhere. Over a whopping two pages, Spidey tricks him into entering the depowering machine and sucking out most of his energy — though it’s made clear that a little bit of it remains, and “maybe we’ll try this again someday.” It definitely reads like Slott was running out of space, so he decided to hurry it up.

As the story draws to a close, twin messages of hope and doom are conveyed. May, having injured her leg in the plane incident, is set to return to New York, so we know she’s going to be weighing the next few issues down. But there’s light ahead, too: the Hobgoblin, the one true Hobgoblin, is on his way back, and if the past is any indication, the quality of Slott’s stories tends to alternate like there’s a pendulum at work.

Whatever happens, it’s gotta be better than Alpha.

Pros: The return of Roderick Kingsley is impending, and the plane crash sequence was some decent, though certainly not special Spidey reading.

Cons: The whole issue is a mess of events with no setup connected loosely by happenstance, the cover advertises a showdown between Spidey and Alpha that doesn’t exist, the ending is incredibly rushed because the plane crash took a third of the issue and in the end there’s still no reason given why we ever had to suffer through Alpha in the first place. This has almost certainly been the worst arc of Slott’s run.

Grade: D

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(14) Comments

  1. Regless

    I thought Peter actually handled it well. He wanted alpha to get that his actions had consequences. I think that's why he want Alpha to go back to same school he was at originally instead of trying to give him a new start. The inevitable bullying might've seemed like a dick move, except he left alpha with enough power to defend himself. so he's not just throwing him to the wolves... Yeah if anything I think Pete may of been to nice.

  2. Boomstick

    The entire resolution seemed more than a bit rushed. I get the impression that Dan Slott was under orders to wrap up the storyline quickly, hence the too-easy way Spidey tricked Alpha into the de-powering chamber in a single panel. That much I could let slide. What rather galled me was how Peter essentially ended up telling Our Boy Andy that he was going to be teased and trolled and that he should suck it up. It was probably intended to come across as "tough love" and maybe make Our Boy Andy seem a bit more sympathetic (it didn't), but all it did was make Oeter look like something of a dick. That bit could have been written better, leaving a sour ending to a disastrous storyline.

  3. Mike 13

    The "Battle of the Half Century" is a play of the real cover this issue pays homage to... you can take it for what it's worth...

  4. reader

    I hope Kingsley decides on not wearing the hobgoblin costume, I wanna see more of him as that devil-spider.

  5. Dan

    All of that wasted space could have been used to do a Spider-man and Black Widow team-up story arc that might introduce Galina Tsarfin as the hybrid clone created from the DNA samples of = Spider-Man and the Black Widow. Thus she could have been Spider-Man’s sidekick who is also a trained warrior like both of her parents.

  6. Dan

    Some of the issues that was to commemorate Spider-Man's 50th Anniversary have not been very good at all. And to think that Ends of the Earth could have been a very good storyline from start to finish if it was as good as Spider-Island. And a Black Widow and Spider-Man team-up story might have been nice to see, along with a separate that would have featured Spider-Man x Spider-Woman working together. All of which could have been untold flash back stories of their adventures before the Black Cat appeared in Spider-Man life. Another thing that might have been interesting was to see Spider-Man getting sent to the AoA universe to meet Gwen Stacy of that world. While Brian Bendis Spider-Man was very good, if failed to resolve a closure between Mary Jane and Jessica Drew(his female close. or should I say his counterpart's twin sister). I think that overall the Spider-Man celebration hasn't been amazing at all.

  7. CrazyChris

    "So they decided to “take an earlier flight” back on their own plane?" That's an excellent catch. I never would have noticed it.

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