“Huh. Whaddya know. Peter Parker in charge.”
After a shady first four issues, Amazing Spider-Man’s fourth volume ends its first story arc on a bang, bringing together all of his allies in a climactic showdown that will revolutionize comics forever… Okay, I’m lying. Let’s take a look.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #5
“Set in Stone”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Gieussepe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Marte Garcia
Editor: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
This is my first review on the site, so I hope you all enjoy! Let’s get started!
Spider-Man and Mockingbird take off in a spare SHIELD Quinjet (which I guess the Goblin gang didn’t trash first to make sure the people wouldn’t get away?), and after Peter decides to take off his Spider-Armor (God, those two words shouldn’t even go together), Mockingbird punches him in the face, reminding him that SHIELD needed him for their assault, even though she was impressed with how he put his life on the line to save his aunt. Peter then dumps some exposition on us: Zodiac has his tech, they hacked SHIELD’s security grid, and they poured everything into striking Zodiac installations that turned out to be fake. He then figures out where they’re going to strike next, and they fly off to London.
Arriving at Parker Industries (ugh) London headquarters (UGH), they meet up with Fury, Coulson, May (could you advertise more TV shows if you tried?), Johnny, Prowler and his staff, including Sajani, Anna Maria and the Living Brain. On their way to the conference room, Johnny is surprised to see Peter acting in charge (so are we). They compare notes and realize that they can use the British government’s camera network to find Zodiac. However, they get Zodiac before authorization, and so they mobilize, with Sajani pointing out that somebody dumped their nanotech onto the CCTV network. Pete gets angsty, saying that Parker Industries doesn’t work outside the law, and orders the nanotech scrubbed. In the garage, Johnny and Peter go inside not to get a vehicle, but to use the classic web-slingers to get to the British Museum of History (It only took you this long, Pete).
They arrive, only to find Scorpio messing around with the Zodiac key, and they brawl for a bit, before Scorpio destroys the rosetta stone and claims an artifact with the Zodiac key symbol on it. He then uses a remote trigger to pop the rest of his comrades’ poison pills , but Peter saves them all. Back at P.I., Peter reveals that he traced the nanotech back to Sajani, and decides to buy up her shares and fires her, when in reality it was Living Brain-Ock who framed her. He holds a press conference, and then talks to one of his major shareholders, who declares that he has faith in Parker Industries, only to reveal that he himself is Scorpio. (Dun dun duuunnnn!)
So… is this supposed to be an Iron Man ripoff or an Avengers ripoff?.. Or both?
I can’t really tell right now.
Alright, let’s get the positives out of the way. The art is up to Camuncoli’s usual standards. The line work is sold, and complemented well by some of the colors, but something about it seems rather off. It may just be the amount of creases in the character’s foreheads that I’m noticing, but it’s harmless at worst and excellent at best, but some of the colors just feel dull and out of place. The story is also linear in a good fashion, not really deviating from itself aside from taking some minor non sequiturs to show Johnny and Peter interact. Aside from that, it’s at least a one-way story that doesn’t fall off the rails.
And… yeah. That’s about all the positives I can give here.
Addressing the negatives, there’s, sadly, a lot of those. First off, it seems like Peter can turn his brain on and off with a switch of his costume. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a valid explanation for his actions. Furthermore, they talk like he’s supposed taking charge, when I felt that Fury, as the director of the largest intelligence apparatus on the planet, should be briefing his own people on their mission. Slott is trying to make Peter do, in my opinion, too much now, when in fact he has no real business ordering Fury’s agents around. This may sound odd, but in this situation, Peter may belong shunted off into the crowd in this situation; something that should never happen in his own book. I’m fairly certain this is why many people are not very pleased with the title, forcing Peter into a situation where he is forced to be on the sidelines. This does not belong in Spidey’s main title, it belongs in a team-up or something of Avenger-esque substance.
I was also perplexed by SHIELD requiring authorization from the British government to access their cameras. In the past, or at least the movies that the comics are now trying to coincide with, SHIELD has shown zero qualms about poking their nose in where it doesn’t belong; what makes this scenario so different? Is SHIELD suddenly no longer the morally ambiguous agency that we could give a pat on the back for doing something morally just, and instead just the nicest place in the world?
The final killer for this one is, again, Peter himself, and the scenario he’s in. I cannot repeat myself on this one, they make it feel like he’s in an Avengers-style comic. Not only that, but Slott seems to be going out of his way to make Peter look like a hero now yet simultaneously push him off to the side to show off how awesome SHIELD is, which gives me a headache and seems to be a message to me; Slott doesn’t want to do Spider-Man comics anymore. From my perspective, it seems he’s got a hankering to make Iron Man or Avengers comics. However, because Spider-Man is a high-selling title, Marvel keeps putting him back on the ASM project. Therefore, Slott isn’t getting what he wants, and has two options come to mind; the first is to write Spider-Man the way he wants to, putting him in an Avengers/Iron Man scenario, and pissing off a lot of people, which seems to be the current road he’s taking. The other is far more disastrous, and one I beg to Slott not to take: Slott deliberately makes the comic as bad as possible, hoping sales will plummet and he’ll be released to pursue his own vision. This is a road I am seriously hoping doesn’t happen, but it remains a complete possibility. But the biggest problem is how Slott sets up Peter to make him fail. Yeah, Zodiac gets what they came for (or at least Scorpio did), and Parker Industries looks bad in the eyes of the public! How is that a victory for him?! It might be one for SHIELD, but we don’t care about SHIELD. We care about the guy called Spider-Man, and when Slott writes him to fail this badly, it does not end up well. For either him or us.
Also, how did Otto’s consciousness manage to weasel its way past some decent programming from Octavius himself? I know that Ock knows his own tech inside out, but we know that he codes it pretty well. Also, when did he have any time in the Superior Spider-Man run to insert his consciousness? I assume that he had done it with the Anna Maria AI in Spider-Verse, with the whole “100 days” thing, but they don’t really explain it. And that really makes me slap my head in frustration. Finally, I swear that Slott wants me to put the Shyamalan “What a twist!” clip after revealing Scorpio’s identity as Peter’s shareholder. Oh, how tempting…
In short, Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #5 finishes off with a lackluster gleam, with enough substance to save it from total failure, and severely depletes my optimism for future issues in this universe. Then again, I have to remain hopeful. After all, Slott has proven that when he wants to, he can make a good story. So let’s see what-
[Sees Mister Negative on the cover]