Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #1.1 and 1.2


asm1-1coverasm1-2coverTired of the All New, All Different globe trotting Spidey? Think things would be better if you could just read a Spider-Man written by someone different who puts Spider-Man back on the streets of New York? Well, then, true believers, Marvel hears you. And now, because you demanded it, here is an all new tale in the mini-series (sorry – point ones) titled “Amazing Grace.”

There’ll be talk about God, Christmas miracles, and zombies –

So will this be a thank goodness Marvel listened or a be careful what you wish for scenario? Read on, friends, and find out. Note, to catch up on time, we’ll be combining the first two point issues.

 

The Devil in the Details

Writer: Jose Molina
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Cover Art: Simone Bianchi
Colorist: Israel Silva (1.1) & Israel Silva, Java Tartaglia, Andres Mossa, & Marte Graca (1.2)
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: Dec. 16th & Jan. 6th

The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test:

Point 1 – “Amazing Grace: A Wretch Like Me” – We start our dark and depressing Christmas tale with Spider-Man belting out words he’s making up to go with “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  The words are big, yellow, and breaks out of the word balloon, so we know he’s yelling (that’s called ‘graphic contrast’, students).  He stops as he comes in on a funeral for some guy named Julio Manuel Rodriguez.  Shortly after everyone leaves the cemetery, Rodriguez breaks out of his grave (no small feat seeing how the grave has a full marble or concrete slab over it).  Cut to Peter Parker walking through a building (presumably a Parker Industries one) ranting about how there should no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving and extolling the virtues of turkeys before he runs into a bank of TV all reporting on the apparent resurrection of Rodriguez.  Jameson is going off the deep end on how this is a message from God.

Peter then heads over to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (who happens to be a friend of Anna Maria) to see if it is possible that Rodriguez was buried alive.  After being reassured that this could not be the case, he leaves to scope out the Rodriguez house.  Rodriguez seems to be perfectly fine with no understanding of how he pulled a Jesus and rose from the dead.  Spider-Man saves Rodriguez’s kids (while making pedophile jokes) and learns that Rodriguez had some sort of cancer and sought care from some guy named Don Anselmo.  Spider-Man tracks down his office and it seems to be something straight out of The Serpent and the Rainbow.  Spider-Man is snuck up on (you know, because the web of life has been damaged…. or something like that) by the Santerians.  If you don’t know who they are, no worries.  Nobody at the Marvel web site really seems to know either.  Best thing, though – we are promised a fight between Spidey and the voodoo X-men guys.  HERE ENDS THE TALE OF POINT THE ONE

Point 2 – “Amazing Grace: My Heart to Fear” – Spider-Man makes a stand against the Santerians because he cannot abide their cruelty toward chickens (no, really – the first three pages are dedicated to Spider-Man trying to save a chicken from the Santerians first, and then a pack of dogs). No actual fight.  Again.

asm1-2chicken

 After that, we discover that Rodriguez blames Parker Industries on him dying since he went to the Uncle Ben Foundation for help and was denied.  Last I checked, they were not in the business of miracle cures, but Rodriguez may have heard an ad on TV that I am not privy to here in Earth 1218.
Out of options, Rodriguez went to Cuba, came back an angry person, and  that brings us to present day.  Spider-Man gets manipulated into flying to Cuba so that the Santerians don’t have to.  While there he finds out there there is a man who can do just what the guys does in The Green Mile and suck out your illness.  After several panels that serve as a political soapbox on the ills of Cuba, Peter finally tracks down where this guy is only find….a robot on a table.  A robot and a bunch of crabs and lobsters.  He then is suddenly paralyzed by some green gas that his spider sense failed to detect and starts hallucinating.  Once he regains his composure, he sees the man he was looking for who turns out to be none other than… Uncle Ben.
asm1-2uncleben
 HERE ENDS THE TALE OF POINT THE TWO.

What Passed:

Joe Caramagna does a bang up job lettering.  Actually, I take that back.  He spelled thirty thousand with a hyphen.  You just don’t do that.  

What Failed:

What didn’t?

asm1-1peter

Is it just me? Does this scream Peter Parker to you? Maybe I just have impossibly high standards.

The art – while I do not mind the dark look of the book, I have mentioned before that my primary guage of art is to be able to recognize Peter Parker.  I can’t.  I read several panels wondering who this guy was that we were following until someone called him Parker.  That just shouldn’t be the case.

Dr. Kevin Templeton makes JR look cheerful.  On top of that, we either have really bad art, or we have social justice being thrown out way – granted, not as heavy handed as Gerry Conway would.  The door says Dr. Kevin Templeton, but it appears that Kevin is a woman.  On top of that, he/she is wearing a tee-shirt with the words, “This is what a doctor looks like,” and skin tight pants.  If it is an attempt to show a successful transgender, it failed.  Dr. Templeton is unprofessional in both the manner of how he/she speaks and dresses.  On top of that, she calls Anna Maria a “bearcat”.  Peter looks stunned at this.  Being the prude that I am, I looked up the term on Urban Dictionary.  The first definition is crude and I’m sure doesn’t apply.  The next definition puts her as a 35+ year old slutty cougar.  Either way, this was not how I feel that Anna Maria was portrayed in the past.

asm1-1spidersThe jokes – just not funny.  I get better from my five year old daughter.

The story telling – in point 2, the timing keeps jumping from Spider-Man hanging onto the outside of his own jet to the moment when he was talking to the Santerians.  I understand that it is a way of trying to avoid lengthy exposition, but the constant switching is irritating.  The best way of delivering information is by showing, not telling.  Constantly shifting scenes does not get rid of lengthy exposition, it just prolongs it.  Especially since there is no good reason for Spider-Man to be hanging outside of a plane (he says it is because he never hitchhiked at 30,000 feet before (see above commentary about jokes) – do you know what the temperature would be at 30,000 feet if the surface temperature is around 52 degrees Fahrenheit?  I do (because I looked it up) – negative 47.  NEGATIVE 47.  And the Spidey is in spandex).

I asked in my review for issue 6 if anyone remembered Spider-Man cursing in other issues.  Well, we get it here as well.  He laughs at thousands of “mushy faced” spiders crawling up his arm, but curses for crabs.   Go figure.

When it comes down to it, issue 1.1 reads and feels just like a bad Moon Knight comic (don’t get me wrong, I like Moon Knight).  Go back and read it again and just imagine Moon Knight dressed as Spider-Man.  Issue 1.2 reads like, well, a bad Dan Slott story.  I absolutely did not enjoy anything about this story so far.  Looking forward to 1.3…

Extra Credit:

The 1.2 issue was supposed to come out on the 13th, but due to a distribution glitch, this issue and several others became available a week early.  This proved to be a headache for retailers.  Do they sell the copies that came too early and risk pissing off Marvel or do they old them and risk their customers going to other stores to buy this week’s issues.  Marvel eventually relented and told retailers to go ahead and they also released it digitally as well.

While in Cuba, Peter gives his name as Bruno Diaz.  Let’s see which of you will be first to post who that is in the comment section.  You won’t get a no-prize for it, though.  I’m fresh out of those at the moment.

Bonus points to you if you actually read Daredevil: Father and knew who the heck these Santerians were in the first place.  I’m doubting that, despite Netflix’s love of Hell’s Kitchen heroes, they’ll be getting their series anytime soon.  Better catch up on The Walking Dead if you are wanting your zombie fix on TV.

Final Grade:

We  have two assignments turned in here, so this grade counts double.

F-

When Brad first asked me about reviewing Amazing, I was flattered, thinking that he liked my work so far.  After reading these two issues, I’m sure that he just hates me.  

(12) Comments

  1. Evan

    I believe that is the lowest grade I have ever seen a comic receive on this site. Does anyone know of any that are worse? Not that I would read the issues, of course -- I'm just curious! Mark, you have my admiration and sympathy.

  2. Mark Alford - Post author

    That article says he won an American Latino Media Arts Award and he's got several TV scripts until his belt, so he must have skills. I just didn't see them shining through here. Maybe the television style doesn't easily translate to comic books. I really want to like it. This is a street level (for the most part) Spider-Man. I should be loving this arc. I'll approach issue #3 with a fresh perspective. Maybe it will wow the socks off me and I'll give it an A+.

  3. Jeff Gutman

    I agree with BD. This was probably sitting in a drawer for years and Marvel pulled it out to try and capitalize on the zombie craze caused by the walking dead.

  4. Mark Alford - Post author

    @#7 And there seemed to be many things wrong in each scene. I had to go back and erase problems I had written about because I felt that it just seemed like overkill. The plane scene is probably the worst of the lot. Ballooning. At thirty thousand feet. Makes me long for the days when we had web diapers. At least that made some sense.... I can't speak for Latinos, and I don't mind a story that is aimed toward an audience that is not me (I am loving the Ms. Marvel series, and I could not be farther away from the target audience - old, white, male, non-Muslim, and indifferent to the plight of the Inhumans), but I got the same feeling as you about how they are portrayed. That's why I would love to hear from any of our readers who are Latino and tell me their views. Or from anyone who likes it. I could really use a dose of enthusiasm before I read #3. Speaking #3, are you going to read it, or are you going to make me suffer alone?

  5. Chase The Blues Away

    That plane scene was so...wrong...on so many levels. It's not just the -47 degree temperature outside of a plane, it's also the lack of oxygen at 30,000 feet. Hypoxia sets in around 15,000 feet; at 30,000 feet unpressurized lungs can explode as the air in the lungs would expand too fast. Then there is the stupidity of Peter jumping off the plane, and catching it a minute later - but the plane is traveling around 575 miles per hour or over 9 miles a minute. I had no idea Peter's webs could travel nine miles. This was such an awesomely bad mix of trying to be socially conscious, but by using lazy stereotypes for its minority characters. I'm not Latino, but I'm guessing practicing Santarians would not be thrilled by how they are portrayed. Animal sacrifice is only a small part of the religion, and it's important to treat the animals well before the sacrifice. Peter Parker isn't portrayed as a vegetarian, and if you've seen documentaries on how animals farmed for meat tend to be treated - it can be argued Peter was being a judgmental hypocrite. F- is a kind grade.

  6. Mark Alford - Post author

    Good catch on the Bruno Diaz - you're first! You could easily take Parker Industries out of this. For that matter, you could easily take Spider-Man out of this and insert almost any other hero. It really read like a Moon Knight story. The social overtones are really overbearing. It may be because I am not the target audience that I really do not feel that the story works. There are so many Latino references and social commentaries that I think that my WASP self is not connecting. I would very much like to hear from someone who is of Latino descent and see if this story strikes a chord more with them. I found the whole "loved by kids" joke a bit distasteful as well. I could have gone on and on with the faults in this arc so far, but the review was getting long enough as is and I felt as if I was starting to drone. There are very few Spider-Man stories that I have enjoyed less than this. If I wasn't reviewing it, I would not have made it past halfway into the first issue. It makes me look forward to the upcoming Dan Slott story. I am assuming that the Santerians will be in upcoming issues. If not, there was really no need to have them there.

  7. BD

    Bruno Diaz is Bruce Wayne. Thank you Google. I've only read the first part of the story and wasn't impressed. Does the book feel as though it's been in a drawer for a while and changed to put in Parker Industries? On our Facebook page Steev Thulin-Hopper posted this. What are your thoughts? "Amazing Spider-Man #1.1, 'Amazing Grace, part one' written by Jose Molina- am I the only one? Really, am I the only one who read this and experienced a violent stomach lurching on the very first page? "While the homeless are scrounging--" sings Spidey. Really, Marvel? Because of all the things Pete is likely to sing, that's just about the most unlikely and offensive piece of crap a writer has ever put into his mouth. What did his beloved Aunt May spend quite a lot of her recent history doing? Oh yeah, working in a homeless shelter. So- "scrounging", really? I'd really like to hear Molina's justification for that- because I found it impossible to read the rest of the issue (complete with "drug addled thugs", JJJ spouting off about "God" and unpleasant jokes about "creepy" Spidey being "loved by kids" and "keeping an eye on them", like a Webby Jimmy Savile) without a growing sense of discomfort. This was Fox News Spider-Man. Just bloody horrible."

  8. Tommy

    A continuity nitpick - Spider-Man has hitchhiked on a plane before in Web of Spider-Man #65, back when Graviton removed gravity on Spider-Man's person.

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