Amazing Grace Part Three: Dangers, Toils, and Snares
O.K., maybe in my first review for this arc I was a bit…harsh. I’m prepared to believe that each issue stands on its own, just like one bad hole of golf doesn’t determine the whole game. So I’m writing this blurb the night before the comic comes out. Is my faith well placed? Is my heart just hardened by cynicism? Let’s find out!
The blurb for this issue provide by our merry friends at Marvel is:
The plot thickens as Spidey’s investigation into a newly resurrected Harlem man takes him into terrifying territory! The Santerians are Spider-Man’s guides and the journey will take them far from Harlem before the mystery is solved!
- thicker plot
- terrifying territory (alliteration!)
- more Santerians
- not one, but two exclamation points!
Alright! I’m psyched! Let’s do this thing!
The Devil in the Details
Writer: Jose Molina
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Colorist: Israel Silva and Java Tartaglia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Simone Bianchi
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: Feb. 24, 2016
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test
Quick recap – Julio Rodriguez was killed, buried , and rose again. Spider-Man wants to know why, runs into some not really voodoo group named the Santerians who reveal that the answer lies with a witch doctor in Cuba, Spider-Man makes his way there and is attacked by crabs and sees Uncle Ben.
“Everything you have been taught is wrong.” This is the lead off statement to get us ready for what is to come. Spider-Man does not believe it is really Uncle Ben, even after Ben calls him “Peter” and says, “I forgive you Peter.”
Switch back to Harlem where the Santerians set fire to Rodriguez’s apartment and whisk him away so that they can do a Q-tip swab of his mouth. We see that Julio knows the Santerians, is concerned how much they know about his miraculous resurrection, and we learn that he knows more than he is letting on. Turns out the fire was magical and didn’t actually damage anything (except a lamp).
Back to Cuba – Uncle Ben keeps trying to engage in a theological discussion with Peter who keeps being snotty to him. Uncle Ben, in order to prove that he will always look after Peter, sews up a rip on the arm of Peter’s costume and disappears. Spider-Man finds himself outside and realizes that it’s all been in his head. Luckily he doesn’t say anything revealing and we can assume that nobody else heard Uncle Ben’s remarks. Spidey beats up all the witch doctor goons, makes a pop culture reference, and realizes that his costume is stitched up (cue Twilight Zone music).
Back to Harlem – Spider-Man confronts the Santerians and they try to convince him it is a miracle. “So how does an ordinary man come back from the dead?” Spidey only answers “I don’t know” (gee, how about deal with the devil?). Spidey takes the Q-tip and heads over to see Beast who is hanging out with the Inhumans for some reason that I am sure would make sense if I cared about the Inhumans. Beast and Spider-Man have another theological discussion. BEast discovers that Julio is not human. Meanwhile, Julio kills an old man with the kiss of death. I thought the old man’s name was Viejo, but turns out that it is Spanish for ‘old man’. Hey, Dora the Explorer never used that word and that is the extent of my knowledge of Spanish.
This issue is better than the previous. There are no glaring miscues (like swinging from planes).
Seeing Spider-Man choke lift Uncle Ben, even a hallucination version that I can’t recognize, was pretty powerful.
I liked the Jackie Chan style fight move where Spider-Man webs some chairs and swings them as weapons.
The art is a tough one. At times it is good. I particularly like Simone’s tactic of having Spider-Man breaking the panel borders. It makes the action more dynamic. I also like Simone’s way of drawing webs. McFarlane may be the one credited with “spaghetti webbing”, but Simone’s really does look like spaghetti. I wouldn’t want it as my main stream webbing, but I think it works well.
There are a few well made quips in here, like when Spidey calls Beast “Brainy Smurf”.
And of course, I am a sucker for Shakespeare quotes. The Santerians quote Hamlet and Spider-man responds with a quote of his own. You better believe this panel will make my class web site:
By the way, that quote is from Shakepeare’s anti-semitic gem The Merchant of Venice.
Let’s start with the cover. How in any stretch of the imagination can Spidey have his leg like that. I missed the part in the comic where Spider-Man completely breaks his leg and valiantly swings on while it flops about. And don’t try to tell me it is just how flexible he is. That leg is just wrong.
Let’s discuss the religion in this comic. Now Peter has never been shown as holy roller going to church every time the doors are open type of guy, and you might would expect a scientist to be skeptical of unexplained miracles. However, Peter goes beyond skeptical and is downright disrespectful toward religion. He makes a creationist joke, doubts the afterlife, argues with Beast for even entertaining the thought of a divine being. It is a stance that Peter has not taken in…..ever. In fact, in The Infinity Crusade, he is picked as one of the 33 most religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe. In JMS’s run, Peter prays quite a few times. Even in the Ultimate universe, Peter expresses a belief in God, not a die hard “Save me Jesus!” belief, but a belief nonetheless. So this utter disdain for religion seems quite out of place. However, if consider that this is the Peter that is post-deal-with-the-devil, maybe his soul now just can’t take God anymore.
The Santerians. Why are they here? They really seem to play no role in this story other than to give it a mystical feel and to pass on Q-tips. I have no real understanding of what their end game it and we are three issues in already.
The art – way inconsistent. I would have thought that two or three pencilers worked on this book. Take a look at the three panels to the left. In each panel we see Julio Rodriuez, but if you didn’t have word balloons, it would be hard to know this. In the last two panels you also see the same old man, but they look nothing alike. I find myself constantly going back to make sure I am understanding what I am reading because the art is not giving me the cues I need.
At times the Beast looks more like a blue ape and Spider-Man’s costume looks quilted (I keep envisioning the Shocker handing Spidey his card and saying, “You know, I could help you with your costume design…”).
Uncle Ben gets extra credit in the following exchange:
Uncle Ben: But with great power…
Peter: Comes great responsibility, I know.
Uncle Ben: Great responsibility? Who said that? That’s good. I’m going to use that.
It is quite funny, so I’ll overlook the fact that it should be must come great responsibility.
If you want to learn more about Peter’s religious beliefs, try out this site: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html
Well, it is getting better. Nice fight scenes, no chickens. But I’m not completely sold yet. I’m not hanging up my optimism and am not cringing for next month’s issue like I was after 1.2. Better, but with room for improvement:
More awkward poses!