So just when Peter got things squared away with Doc Ock’s girlfriend, Anna Maria, in the last issue, he now has to straighten things out with one of his real ex-girlfriends in this one, while also working with the new boyfriend of another. Because what’s a Spidey story without a complicated love life?
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humbero Ramos
INKS: Victor Olazaba
COLORS: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: We open with the mysterious woman (who we know as Silk) experiencing some cabin fever over being stuck in her “windowless room.” After looking at pictures of her family, especially her younger brother, Albert, Silk decides to break out. Unfortunately, as she tries to punch in the key code for the security door, a recorded video message, who addresses her as Cindy, informs her that while he can’t stop her, she has to stop herself “not just for your sake but for the rest of us.” Cindy breaks down and whispers, “Damn you, Ekeziel…”
Meanwhile, the Black Cat robs an Upper East Side apartment and, after tying up the owners, enjoys some champagne and caviar while thinking of getting revenge on Spider-Man. Over in Alphabet City, Electro is sleeping an abandoned building and has a nightmare about SpOck, causing his powers to accidentally light the place on fire. Electro flees, blaming Spider-Man for how he “can’t even sleep ’cause a’ [him.]” Over at Parker Industries, Peter’s employees (who are still scared of him) have developed a tracking device to detect Electro’s energy signature, and Peter takes them on a “field trip” to track him down. Sajani Jaffrey is still upset over how Peter scrapped the nanotech project in favor of developing a superhuman prison. Anna Maria Marconi, believing that Doc Ock’s brilliant work can’t go to waste, tells Sajani she’ll work on the nanotech project (with a little help from the Living Brain), reassuring her that Peter won’t know about it. As Peter and his employees arrive at where Electro was staying, firefighters, including Mary Jane’s new boyfriend, Pedro “Ollie” Olivera, are evacuating the homeless from the building. Ollie goes back inside, while Peter changes into Spider-Man. One Phoebe Gold from the Fact Channel reporting at the scene sees Spidey swing into the burning building, and Black Cat sees it live on TV.
Speaking of the Fact Channel, J. Jonah Jameson is being interviewed by Natalie Long (the reporter from Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2014)). When she asks if her producer told Jonah why he’s there, Jonah goes into a tirade about how he did real journalism unlike the Fact Channel, that “vultures” like them forced him to resign as mayor, that he kept New York safe, and everything that happened to him was all Spider-Man’s fault. Natalie, however, tells him she’s not interviewing him for her network—her network is offering Jonah his own TV news show. Back at the fire, Spidey finds Ollie and together they save a little girl. But as Ollie tries to leave the building, his steps on a weak spot and gets trapped, caused by the Black Cat using her bad luck powers. As Black Cat attacks Spidey, he tells her that it was really Doc Ock in his body that was responsible—except Black Cat doesn’t care, saying that because “the Spider” took her down, no one will respect her unless she makes an example of him. So Spidey decides to pretend he’s Doc Ock, including speaking like him, to get her to back off. Black Cat flees, and Spidey saves Ollie. A worried Mary Jane arrives and hugs Ollie, and Spidey slips away before she can see him. The Black Cat then pickpockets the Parker Industries scientists and steals their Electro tracking device. Still determined to get revenge against Spider-Man and not caring about whether he was telling the truth or not, Black Cat uses the device to find Electro and suggests they team-up. To be continued…
THOUGHTS: In many ways, Amazing Spider-Man #3 is just as much about the women who are a part of, or will be a part of, Peter’s life as it is Peter himself. And as it just so happens, it’s the new female characters under Dan Slott who are getting the better treatment and development.
For example, what little we learn about Silk, including her real first name, seems quite intriguing, especially the revelation that none other than Ezekiel Sims was responsible for keeping her isolated from the outside world. Which makes complete sense. Remember, when Ezekiel first met Spidey, he tried to protect him from Morlun by constructing a special room that would shield those with totemic powers; stands to reason that Cindy, aka Silk, accepted Ezekiel’s offer. This also helps to further set-up Slott’s upcoming “Spider-Verse” in that once Cindy escapes, as we know she will, this will more than likely attract Morlun. Granted, I’m not exactly too keen on the possible revisiting of J. Michael Stracynski’s totemic angle to Spider-Man’s origin again, but I can appreciate how Slott appears to be incorporating this in a logical way to Silk and her origin.
Then there’s Anna Maria, with support from Sajani, deciding to continue working on Doctor Octopus’ nanotech project without Peter’s knowledge because “[Doc Ock] was brilliant, and it deserves to live on.” Not only does this allow Peter’s new confidant to have secrets of her own and thus create even more emotional conflict, it also shows her love for Otto may have blinded her to the kind of person he really was. Sure, she, like everyone else, knew about Doc Ock’s beforehand, but because she got to know him on a deep, intimate level while he was pretending to be Peter, she only saw the good in him. Thus, it never occurs to her not to continue with Doc Ock’s work, or foresee the potential danger which may result from doing so, which will happen likely happen with the completion of the nanotech project. Also, given that Anna Mariais going have the Living Brain assist her with developing the project because she knows the robot was in Doc Ock’s full confidence, it makes me wonder if an added wrinkle to this new subplot will be that the Living Brain also houses the remnants of Doc Ock’s memories. Notice how, instead of addressing her formally like it does with everyone else, the Living Brain called her “Anna Maria?”
When it comes to Mary Jane, however, her current status of being Ollie’s girlfriend really isn’t doing her any favors. Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, ‘nerd! MJ was only in this issue for one scene. Her new firefighter boyfriend was the one getting a lot more panel time, and he comes off as a decent, heroic guy who gets along well with Spidey. How can you say this isn’t doing MJ any favors?” Easy—because Spidey’s “team-up” with Ollie, and that Spidey does indeed see him as a decent, heroic guy, seems like all-too obvious attempt by Slott to convince readers that MJ might be better off in a relationship with Ollie than she ever was with Peter. Except what this really does is turn MJ into a massive hypocrite.
Note how Spidey observes MJ “looked terrified” when she believed Ollie was trapped in the burning building, and thinks how “the whole time [he and MJ] were together, she went through that every night” and thus concludes she was “right” to leave him to pursue a “normal life.” Only how is being Ollie’s girlfriend all that different? MJ is still in a relationship with someone who routinely risks his life to save people, one of the very reasons she broke up with Peter in the first place. Sure, given the nature of his job, Ollie won’t always be in danger exactly like Peter, but based on her emotional reaction, wouldn’t she be just as worried about Ollie every single time Ollie has to go out and fight fires just as she worried every single time Peter had to go fight bad guys? Moreover, what we see of Ollie as presented in this issue is someone who is far more reckless than Peter, who convinced he has to prove himself to other guys of his unit due to having to skip town with MJ during “Goblin Nation,” including going into a burning building alone and without back-up. Everything involving Spidey helping Ollie just reinforces the notion that MJ’s idea of “moving on with her life” was to hook-up with a literal second-rate version of her ex. Maybe this is the angle Slott is actually going for, that MJ will come to realize she’s just been fooling herself, but it’s being done at the cost of her character.
But this is nothing when compared to the outright debacle that is the “woman scorned” depiction of the Black Cat and her quest for revenge against Spidey. It was one thing for Felicia to have been ignorant about Doc Ock taking over Spidey’s body, even if her decent into villainy as a result was extremely over-the-top. But now that Spidey has outright told her what happened, only for her to say she doesn’t care what the truth actually is, and that she still wants revenge because her reputation as a thief has been ruined? This doesn’t just make her vindictive and self-centered, it makes her flat-out dumb. Moreover, what little empathy we had for the Black Cat is evaporated, because from here on out, she’s not being a super-villain due to a misunderstanding but being one by choice. Adding her willingness to put an innocent like Ollie in danger and teaming-up with with Electro, the Black Cat as a character is being damaged beyond repair right before our eyes. Yes, I’m all for Spidey having more female villains, but if the idea was to make the Black Cat into a villain for Spidey, there were certainly far better ways to pull this off (the episode “Opening Night” from The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon definitely comes to mind). Again, I’m not even a fan of the Black Cat, so can I only imagine that those who are will not be at all pleased with her depiction here.
Irregardless of the varying treatments of the female characters, however, this comic had some definite high points. I like the angle that Peter’s employees are even more afraid of him because he’s trying come across as a fun-loving boss because they’ve only known him, thanks to Otto, as an overbearing and captious taskmaster. Equally amusing was Spidey’s all-too perfect imitation of Doc Ock to throw the Black Cat (and the readers) off-balance, while also acknowledging just how ridiculous it was that no one seemed to notice how “Spidey” talked like Doc Ock all throughout Superior Spider-Man. Then there’s Jonah new job with the Fact Channel, which (not to toot my own horn) was something I predicted would happen in the comments section for my Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2014) review. In the age of the 24-hour Cable News Cycle, it makes all the sense in the world for someone like Jonah to get his own talk show, and I’m surprised that something like this hasn’t happened sooner. After all, if he can be a Bill O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, Eliot Spitzer type in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, why not in the comics? Not to mention, it calls back to Jonah’s first appearances in Amazing Spider-Man in which he took to the airwaves to rant against Spidey as well as publish editorials in The Daily Bugle.
Humerto Ramos’ artwork also was a vast improvement, perhaps because Amazing Spider-Man #3 (2014) allows him to work within his strengths, which is illustrating energetic and dynamic action set-pieces. Everything involving the inside of the burning building, especially the flame effects, thanks also in large part to Olazaba’s inking and Delgado’s coloring, looked incredible, and the skirmish between Spidey and the Black Cat was well constructed. I’m still put-off when it comes to Ramos’ irregular depiction of human anatomy, body proportions, and especially facial and eye expressions, but it wasn’t as bothersome this time around, save for a few panels (that one where Jonah has his arms out and says “And it was all Spider-Man’s fault” is certainly enough to make one rear back in fright).
Amazing Spider-Man #3 (2014) is a decent enough issue, but there are some directions the title is taking that I’m less keen about than others. Also, for as controversial and, at times, problematic Slott’s Superior Spider-Man had been, it did make you eager to see what was going to happen next because Doc Ock as Spider-Man was such an unknown element. Now that Peter is back, it feels as if Slott is just going through the motions and still in the midst of arranging the status quo before going full-bore into “Spider-Verse,” something which also happened when there was a lead-up to a big event like “Spider-Island,” “Ends of the Earth,” and the 700th issue of Amazing Spider-Man. For those reasons and the one’s I’ve already mentioned, I’ll give this issue a modest:
- If Cindy, a.k.a. Silk, is a brand-new character whom we have never seen before, then why are Slott and Ramos going through all this trouble at keeping her face hidden? I mean, did the lower-half of her face mutate to have fangs, pedipalps, and other external mouth parts or something? Or is it just going to be like that other mysterious figure that was with Norman Osborn back in Superior Spider-Man #15 whose identity we still don’t know?
- So what good is Felicia zipping up the front of her costume if those oversized cat-eyes still draws your eyes towards her cleavage? Or that her bladed “tail-belt” is so loose it hangs around and pulls your attention towards her posterior regions? Then again, being that I’m a shameless and unapologetic admirer of the female figure, should I really be complaining?
- Um, Peter…your co-workers are right to think you’re a little off your rocker. Because Hawaiian shirts not only do indeed make you look crazy, they also make you look desperate—especially on skinny guys like yourself. Trust someone who is also a skinny guy who actually owns a Hawaiian shirt and has worn one in public many times.
- Speaking of which, another joke about Peter acting “bi-polar”? Is this going to be a repeated gag like “sharing each others toothbrush” was?
- So just how bland and nondescript is Ollie? So bland and nondescript that his fellow firefighters with whom he’s no doubt been with for several years, still don’t realize that his surname is actually Olivera, not “Olivares.”
- “That’s Mary Jane’s new boyfriend, but I’ve only seen him as Peter.” Really, Spidey? Because even though he was with MJ, Aunt May, and Jay Jameson when they pulled up to Parker Industries back in Superior Spider-Man #31, but you never actually met him, and it sure looked as though you were so busy hugging your Aunt that may not have even noticed him. Then again, maybe you did happen catch him with a glance and the art just didn’t show it?
- This may sound harsh, but if I were Peter, I would indeed fire those incompetent scientists. Because why in the world would you put down a tracking device for any reason, much less “for a second,” instead of having it on you? And speaking of that tracking device…
- Peter and his employees, who only just happened to invent the Electro tracking device can only use it to find previous energy spikes made by Electro, and yet Black Cat—who is not a scientist—was able to use it to find precisely where Electro was hiding? I suppose the tracking device first had to read the residual electrical energy at the scene of the fire until it could be properly calibrated, but then didn’t that other scientist from earlier tell Peter that the device was “attuned to Electro’s energy signature” already? Meaning they could have used it to track down where Electro was hiding instead of his “last known location”?