It’s the second issue (or rather the seven-hundred and second issue) of The Amazing Spider-Man–and this time it’s regular-sized! Also, Spidey gets to fight one of his more notable villains (who just so happens to be in a movie with him this year) while wearing clothes this time around. Oh, and there’s also that matter with Anna Maria Marconi figuring out Peter’s secret identity and some other awkward moments between them, too.
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: In the prelude, we see the woman we’ll know as Silk in the present day, making herself some Chicken Marsala as she gets ready watch a videotape of the second fight between Spider-Man and Electro—and it’s revealed that she knows Spidey is Peter Parker.
Speaking of Peter, he not only confirms for Anna Maria Marconi that he is, in fact, Spider-Man, but also tells her Doctor Octopus took over his body before they ever met. Anna Maria responds to this shocking news…by baking some cookies, saying this is what helps her to think. And after giving Peter a taste of the batter, she goes to take a walk to think things through. Peter also gets a call from the Avengers, and changes into Spidey, save for his pants since, due to Doc Ock having changed his web-fluid formula, they’re sticking to his web-diaper from last issue. This time, Iron Man conducts the brain scan and confirms it’s really Spidey, although Captain America points out how “Spidey” tried to trick them before by saying he’d been possessed by the Venom symbiote. Spidey gets Cap to admit that he knew the symbiote had bonded with Flash Thompson—and then punches him in the face, angry that Cap never told him. Cap, now convinced it’s the real Spidey, tells Spidey that Flash is a soldier, and that, like Spidey, he had a secret identity which Cap also respects. Spidey agrees that, even though it’s annoying, Cap is playing fair, and helps Cap up. Cap welcomes Spidey back, telling Spidey he knows how it feels to try to readjust to changes while being gone, and informs him about the breakout from the prison by Electro.
Electro, meanwhile, has been hiding out with a tattooed girl with multiple piercings named Francine. Electro explains to her that “Spider-Man” tampered with his powers somehow, and Francine tries to comfort him, only to get herself electrocuted when she kisses him, which also causes a blackout. Prior to this, Peter has returned to Parker Industries where Sajani informs him there’s a glitch with the company’s roll-out project, which, since it was really Doc Ock’s invention, Peter has no idea how to fix. Until Anna Maria also arrives and tells Peter that she’s pregnant—only she isn’t, as she just said this to get Sajani to leave—and helps Peter fix the problem. She does, however, tell Peter that because she quit her job at ESU and moved out of her apartment to be with Doc Ock, she has nowhere else to go, so Peter agrees she can still stay. When the blackout happens, Peter changes into Spidey to take on Electro. Among the onlookers watching their fight is the Black Cat in disguise, thus when Spidey tries to stop Electro by dousing him with water from a fire-hydrant, Felicia uses her bad luck powers to make the water douses Spidey instead, allowing Electro to escape. Spidey then gets a call from Johnny Storm, and meets him at the Statue of Liberty. There, Johnny gives Spidey a zip-drive containing all the things Spidey missed while he was away, as he, too, knows what it’s like to “die” and “come back.” As Spidey looks at the ruins of the Spider-Island II, and, after remarking how it was once the Raft, gets an idea. The next day, Peter announces to his employees that Parker Industries is putting the previous roll-out project on hold. Their new roll-out will be a new prison designed to incarcerate, rehabilitate, cure, and de-power super-villains.
THOUGHTS: In my last review, I mentioned how apprehensive I was about where Dan Slott could be taking things with regards to Peter and Anna Maria, primarily because my fear was that Peter, out of fear of hurting Anna Maria’s feeling, would not decide to tell her that the person she actually been in a relationship with was Doctor Octopus instead of him. Thank goodness then that Slott did decide to have Peter tell her the truth; even more surprising, though, was how well she reacted to this otherwise bombshell of a revelation. Granted, it’s clear that Anna Maria was attempting to cope via her cooking and was taking the news much harder than she was letting on, but by issue’s end, she’s now fully in the role of being Peter’s new confidant and acts like what has happened to her over the last several months is all water under bridge.
I suppose Slott was attempting to show Anna Maria being a mature adult, that she has a tremendous amount of inner strength and is able to stay calm, rational, and peppy during such a heartbreaking and emotionally devastating situation, yet her adjustment to this still comes across being very, very rushed and unconvincing. Remember, Anna Maria has just found out that she has unknowingly been having sexual relations with a known criminal impersonating someone else—someone, as she tells Peter in this issue, she’s literally dropped everything for just to be with, who also told him back in Superior Spider-Man #31 that she “couldn’t imagine his life without him,” and, as she discovered last issue, was going to propose marriage to her. It seems rather incredulous that this same person would be responding to Peter’s confession the way she is here, much less take it at face value. (Unless, Doc Ock planned to reveal who he really was in his marriage proposal notes, and that Anna Maria is just putting on an act while secretly planning on getting revenge by luring Peter into a false sense of security, but I doubt it.)
It’s not just the apparent resolution with Anna Maria that feels rushed, either. One sucker punch from Spidey over Flash Thompson being Venom is all Captain America needs to realize that Spidey is the real deal apparently, which means the subplot about the Avengers suspicion of Spidey due to Doc Ock’s actions is abruptly made void. The big roll-out project created by Doc Ock that Peter had no idea how to fix last issue? That, too, gets quickly resolved and replaced by a completely different roll-out project for Parker Industries. And as much as Peter tells Johnny Storm about how “Doc Ock really did a number on [him],” we still, after three issues, never get any sense that Peter’s life, save for some inconveniences, has really been made for the worse at all. If anything, its other people who have suffered more because of SpOck’s actions than Peter himself. Thus once again, Slott, as he’s been wont to do since becoming the main Spider-Man writer, sets up these various story-lines potentially full of long-lasting repercussions, only instead of truly exploring them, he quickly sweeps them aside just so he can move right on to the next set-up.
Not that the groundwork Slott appears to be laying here isn’t intriguing. The idea of Peter and Parker Industries proposing to build a new super-villain prison does offer some possibilities, as does Anna Maria continuing to be his personal assistant and roommate even after knowing the Peter she fell in love with was really someone else. Even so, this new status quo I believe threatens to undermine Peter’s uniqueness as a character, in that having his own company with his own “Pepper Pots” is turning him into a poor-man’s version of Tony Stark.
The only consequence from Superior Spider-Man which doesn’t feel cast-aside, however, involves the villains in this issue and their misplaced revenge against Spidey for what SpOck has done, although in Electro’s case, it’s not even something Slott dealt with but a holdover from Chris Yost’s Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. Sure, it makes sense that Electro would want revenge against Spidey over his belief he, and not Doc Ock, experimented on him, but at the same time, it’s not as if Electro needed the added motivation to want to take down Spidey since he already hates him to begin with. Moreover, making Electro culpable in the accidental deaths of the inmates at the prison last issue and the super-villain groupie in this one feels redundant and only adds to the notion the only reason Electro is in the comic is to help promote The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. The Black Cat, however, appears to have the opposite problem, in that while her quest for revenge against Spidey does naturally stem from what SpOck did to her, her transformation into some would-be super-villain mastermind operating in the shadows is way too much of a stretch. Plus, for those who still doubted that Black Cat doesn’t have full-control of her probability-altering bad luck powers, we get confirmation of that here with her delaying the water gushing from the fire hydrant.
Then there’s the prologue involving Silk, and the revelation she’s yet another person who knows Peter is Spider-Man. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun a bit, but all I’m getting from this character is that she’s going to be a new female super-villain with the gimmick being that she’s another spider-powered character like him. After all, why else study how Spidey fights unless you’re not preparing for the eventuality of fighting him?
I do find this issue to be a better than the main story from Amazing Spider-Man #1, though. While Johnny Storm’s cameo does come off more or less as means of promoting what’s happening in James Robinson’s run in Fantastic Four, it’s always nice to see Peter and Johnny interact under Slott’s pen. Also, I have same feelings about Ramos’ art as I did from the last issue. Once again, his style is well-suited for action sequences, as evidenced in Spidey’s fight with Electro, but not so great for when characters are standing around conversing, which takes up at least three-quarters of this comic. The scene with Spidey punching Cap is particularly glaring, as the way Ramos’ illustrates the panel makes it look as if, save for the “Krakk!” sound-effect, Spidey is punching the air while Cap tripped over his leg.
All-in-all, Amazing Spider-Man #2, is decent enough, but it also comes off rather ho-hum, as though Slott is just biding his time until he gets around to the “Original Sin” tie-ins and the upcoming “Spider-Verse” event. My final grade for this is an inoffensive:
- Don’t be fooled by the variant cover showing a proud and confident Mary Jane on the front. She doesn’t appear in this issue. At all.
- It seems Marvel’s sliding timescale is still acting wonky. Again, Based upon when Peter and Silk were bitten by the radioactive spider, that would’ve made the year 2001. Yet, all the movie posters Silk has in her windowless living quarters—Fight Club, The Matrix, and American Beauty—are all films that came out in 1999. Granted, those could have been posters she had before being cooped-up in wherever she is, and we don’t see any evidence that she has anything from after 2001 in that place. Not to mention, Silk does have very good taste in movies based on those posters.
- Want more evidence time in the Marvel Universe has become messed up? How about Captain America telling Spidey about how SpOck claimed his actions were all the cause of the Venom symbiote “just last week,” when “Goblin Nation” took place “31 One Days” after “Darkest Hours?”
- A close-up of Peter licking frosting off a wooden spoon, followed by him proclaiming, “That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!” If Sigmund Freud were still alive, I’m betting he’d have a field day with that particular scene.
- Yeah, it might be difficult for Peter to find you a “baking try,” Anna Maria, considering how no such thing actually exists. A baking tray, however…
- So Doc Ock changed Peter’s ring tone to Beethoveen’s 5th Symphony, and thus reinforcing the notion that only villains like classic music. I guess since I like classic music, and Beethoveen in particular, that makes me a super-villain by default.
- You know, Anna Maria…claiming that you were pregnant, then telling Peter that you’re not and that you just said it just to get Sajani out of the room was probably not the most tactful way to get you two alone so you could talk about Spidey stuff. Because claiming you’ve been knocked-up is not something you just causally say in jest to any one, ever! Although, that is some definite grade-A trolling by Dan Slott, no question.
- Gee, Francine did seem like an interesting new character before she was unceremoniously electrocuted, huh? And Max, for all your protests that she shouldn’t kiss you and that it was too dangerous, you still seemed to lean in for that kiss and not push her away. I guess you can just claim her piercings were once again being magnetically drawn to your face as part of your defense, I suppose.
- Okay, here’s a question for you No-Prize contestants: since Johnny Storm’s Human Torch powers are on the fritz and was one of the bystanders during the Electro fight, how did he get to the Statue of Liberty before Spidey? *Cue the theme from Jeopardy.*