“You’ll see. It’s all for the best.”
Cloak and Dagger are the bad guys, Mr. Negative returns, Peter has to deal with complaints with his employees! And the prom is tomorrow!… Or never, since Marvel seems so intent on keeping Spider-Man young forever.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #6
“The Dark Kingdom Pt 1: Turnabout”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Matteo Buffagni
Inks: Matteo Buffagni
Colors: Marte Garcia
Cover: Alex Ross
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
We start out with Martin Li (the one villain that was at least acceptable in ASM (2014) #5) on a prison boat (Is he going to the Regent?). He gets busted out by reverse Cloak and Dagger, along with Negative’s Inner Demon squad. Releasing Marty, they give him one of those Nicotine patches that gives him back in his powers. It turns out that they’ve had to use the drugs themselves, and have been working with a man named Shade (Ooh, how sinister. Let me guess, he’s in cahoots with Smokescreen from Spider-Man, Storm and Cage) to keep using the drugs.
We than cut to Peter and his girlfriend friday, Lien Tang, at Parker Industries’ Shanghai HQ (is it taboo to have an adventure in New York now? Can Peter no longer go to Marvel’s offices to voice his complaints over the quality of the comic?), where they are interrupted by somebody planning to mass-produce the Spider-Mobile (First off, did Ends of the Earth teach you nothing? Second, isn’t the Spider-Mobile only able to be driven because of Peter’s Spider-sense? Third, the Spider-Mobile still exists. Ew.) in a civilian model. Peter finds the police rummaging through his place, with his nationalist employee explaining that the Chinese police has jurisdiction over SHIELD in this matter.
Peter goes swinging for a bit, saving a guy from a wrecking ball while plugging in a Miley Cyrus song (and sounding like MC Chris, I’m sure. After all, Marvel wants him to look young forever. Why not sound young as well?), simply because the other guy somehow got the Nega-narcotics as well. Peter heads back, changes back into Peter Parker, and gets attacked by reverse Cloak and Dagger, as well as Mr. Negative (why would the top cop be out and about when he could just hang back and send a few Inner Demons to do it?) They get the upper hand despite Peter giving a really good fight (okay, it was pretty cool, but why is he blatantly opening up his secret identity? Thanks for nothing, OMIT.) Peter then gets defeated, and Mr. Negative moves in to corrupt Peter with his magic hands (Except in theory Mr. Negative can only corrupt a person once, and he’s already corrupted Peter as far as I’m aware).
(Edit: Turns out I misread. Shade is the name of the drug that Cloak and Dagger are using that they gave to Negative as well. Regardless, the Smokescreen joke still stands.)
Well, this was a disappointment.
Not that I was expecting anything less given the last five issues.
Granted, it plays out far better in comparison to the past five issues, which I felt were Peter just thinking he was Batman but had on his Spider-Man costume and leading his own version of the Avengers to take out Galactus. Probably because it follows on a much smaller scope than the previous issues, and will hopefully be contained to Shanghai (where Peter shouldn’t even be in the first place, but what do I know?)
Our positives are few and far between, but thankfully, there’s a little more material that can be considered quality goods compared to last issue. It seems that we have a rotating art team, which automatically gets a thumbs up in my opinion. Despite what you might say, this can be a good thing. If we kept seeing Camuncoli on the title, he would have, in my probably singular opinion, gotten burned out, and I like Camuncoli. I don’t want him burning out. With Humberto Ramos going to work in the X-Men department, our new substitute is one Matteo Buffagni, known well for his work on Avengers Assemble and Daken:Dark Wolverine. The art is slick and smooth, though some framing shots look very similar to Joey Vazquez’s art. Though for some reason, in some shots Peter looks like a well-groomed Logan. Regardless, he can pull off a very good Camuncoli sub when he tries, with colors that, for some reason, remind me of Edgar Delgado when he’s coloring for Stefano Caselli and Ryan Stegman simultaneously. Believe me, he tries very hard, but only in short bursts. I can give him an A for effort, and maybe a B- in actual execution.
As for our new characters, I found nothing really interesting that sets them apart from the rest of Peter’s new supporting cast. First off, we have Lian(or Lien, they change the spelling between issues) Tang, who is now definitively Peter’s new girlfriend. And quite personally, she is more of a blank slate to me than Bella Swan. I couldn’t find any distinguishable traits to her other than “She’s Peter’s Girlfriend and she built the shiny car that Spidey drives”. She is literally a way to insert yourself in as Peter’s girlfriend (if you’re into that kind of thing), which, from an analytical perspective, simply does not work in the intricate mechanics of character development. As Mike McNulty said on his review on Whatever a Spider Can, at the very least, Peter’s previous love interests, including recent ones like Carlie Cooper, Anna Maria, and even Cindy Moon god forbid, had at least some character development. Moving on, we have a new Sajani (I know, Mark and Mike have already said this, just go with it please), Mr. Yao Wu (or is it Dr?). He’s a bit more nationalistic than Sajani, and appears to have no sense of respect for the LARGEST INTELLIGENCE APPARATUS ON THE PLANET. I know the Chinese police have the first few pokes around, but there should at least be some kind of correspondence with the intelligence agency who assisted in taking down the terrorist organization that stole his tech in the first place. And… that’s it. We only have, as far as I can tell, two consistent supporting characters, and even then, their appearances have been sporadic at best. Sajani and Anna Maria have had this problem throughout the volume, and it’s beginning to get annoying.
Similarly, I never picked up Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger, which I’ve heard is required reading to understand the situation of Evil!Cloak and Dagger. A little bit of context would be nice, maybe a little exposition or an editor’s box (I might have missed it, tell me in the comments if I did). Regardless, my theory is that Slott is playing up the lack of context intentionally; the way it’s framed in the solicits, it seems as though Slott is unaware it exists, or is playing on the five-year gap between that storyline in real time to avoid having to explain it, and just have the reader assume he did it during Spiral (which even then makes no sense, since there’s not really any spacing between issues for Spiral).
That, and the plot is stick-thin with little in the way of meat. I can literally sum it up in two sentences. See it with me here:
That’s it. While refreshingly simplistic, it may be irritatingly simplistic, and even then it seems to take a sharp derailing to go right back to a subplot abandoned in ASM (2015) #2, with Peter’s tech being stolen. It comes right out of nowhere, much to the surprise of both Peter and the reader, and deviates so sharply that my meat cleaver looks like a blunt device by comparison.
At the end of the day, I entered the Dark Kingdom with little in the way of optimism, and am feeling barely better a third of the way into the borders, feeling like I’m being handed nonsense and told to make sense of it. So… A typical Slott-fest, in short.
A Note from Neil: Noticed there were a few inconsistencies, and I fixed them. Nothing that impacts the core of the review as a whole.