“I promise to make this quick.”
We reach the core of the Dark Kingdom… and it sucks.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #8
“The Dark Kingdom, Pt. 3: Black and White”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Matteo Buffagni
Inks: Matteo Buffagni
Colors: Marte Garcia
Cover: Alex Ross
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
A note from Neil: A personal apology from me. I was seriously bogged down in other works, school and so many other factors that I can’t even begin to fathom explaining them, but in short going to my local comic store is not high on my priority list right now. I don’t wanna sound like I’m making excuses, but I can’t think of any other way to phrase it. You guys deserve better, and this next week I’m going to be seriously hunker down and deliver.
Plot (there’s a plot?):
Peter gets an antidote from Dr. Wu, and Spider-Man takes issue with Chief Inspector Sun calling Mr. Negative American when he hails from China. (Social Justice 1-2-3, Woo-woo!) Apparently he loaded it into the Spider-Tracers (how did he have access to technology from a completely different division of the company?!), and Sun does a total 180 of Wu on us, thanking Spider-Man for his assistance. (Oh good, he got over his borderline fanatical nationalism)
Peter holds a press conference, announcing that the green-energy Spider-Mobile engine will be released to the public. (again, I cite Ends of the Earth as a reason to not release high-end tech to the general public) Lia(e)n expresses disappointment in Spider-Man’s lack of attendance, and Peter reassures her that he’ll be there. (I think you should get Hobbie to hitch a ride on the outside of a jet so you can both be there (and yes, that was a 1.2 reference))
The Quinghao guy announces that he is admittedly being selfish in his goal, and Polar Bear Man teleports in with his Inner Demons thanks to Nega-Cloak. Mr Negative realizes it’s a trap, and Spider-Man does his best Admiral Ackbar impression. (I guess now that Disney owns both Marvel and Lucasfilm that won’t raise any fists) Spidey uses the Spider-tracer he got on Cloak to lock on and cure him of the Shade overdose. (Druggie-ex-machina) Peter jinxes himself when Lia(e)n comes a-blazin in with the Spider-Mobile (btw, they totally stole that arachnid mode from SWAT Kats), and Peter somehow convinces her to stop because that’s what her mother wouldn’t want. (Didn’t stop her from attacking you. You’ve never met her mom, maybe for all you know her mom is how Lia(e)n and Scorpio met)
Cloak turns Dagger back to normal, and Mr. Negative gets the Quinghao guy to confess that he was Silverfang, and committed notorious deeds under that alias. Mr. Negative throws him out the window, and Lia(e)n catches him. (Why?! You have the moral ambiguity of IDW’s Prowl, what’s with the change of heart so fast?!) Polar Bear Man escapes, and Cloak and Dagger save Peter and Lia(e), and Peter forgives Lia(e)n for assisting Scorpio. (Why?!) The three heroes go up to a rooftop and monologue, and our story ends. (For now…)
Mark was being nice when he gave it a C. His opinion and all, that’s perfectly mine. But it’s not me. Oh, no. We’re going all in on this one. Let’s get the pros over with. Matteo Buffgani is improving on his art. It appears far more stylized, almost in complete contrast to Humberto Ramos; whereas Ramos is loose and uncontrollable, Buffgani applies far more control than necessary. The coloring also works a bit to his advantage as well.
There. That’s it. Let’s get to the bad stuff and get this over with, because this issue actually made me angry.
First off, beautiful job introducing the Harry Osborn subplot and going absolutely nowhere with it. I’d like to see it built up over more than one issue and have it reintroduced later. Slott, that is not proper storytelling. You cannot just introduce something and bring it back out of nowhere later. That is lazy, and I’m sorry if I sound rude, but this is storytelling 101; continue telling over time rather than just cutting to it at random and calling it a story arc.
Second off, Spider-Man had little to no challenge defeating Mr. Negative and Cloack and Dagger. It ended too easily. Spider-Man shouldn’t have near-complete control over the police force, that was SpOck’s gig. I hate how the cure works completely and has no side-effects that would make Peter regret his decision in any way. All actions have some kind of consqeuence, but here, there were no consequences. Everybody gets away fine. Come on, even Spectacular Spider-Man, a show that was geared towards children, was able to convey the message that every action Peter makes has an unintentional side effect.
But the biggest sin of this book is, ironically, its main protagonist.
That’s right. Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, is our villain.
Peter Parker willingly leaves his suspiciously acting girlfriend in charge of the Spider-Mobile instead of asking her to attend the press conference with him like a couple would do. And then, it takes him several minutes to talk her down after she was poised to murder him just seconds ago, just on the guess that her mother wouldn’t approve. Again, for all we know, she’s the one who introduced Lia(e)n to Scorpio.
But you wanna know the worst act he commits? He forgives Lia(e)n. Peter forgives a mole for a terrorist organization after she tried to murder him.
I understand that Peter is all about second chances, but there’s a fundamental flaw in this scenario: She just tried to commit an act of first-degree murder. Just because Spider-Man says it’s okay, does not mean he speaks for the police force. For the destruction of several thousand dollars worth of property as well as attempted manslaughter, as well as industrial espionage, she should be spending several years in prison. And Spider-Man lets her go without any problems, and promises to sort things out with the police.
You know what this means, right Crawlspacers? Peter is aiding and abetting a mole for a known terrorist. And, by extension, by dropping all responsibility to bring her in for her crimes that means he is aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. Has his moral compass become so skewed that because he is so cocky with his second chances thing he is allowing a terrorist to walk free simply because he believes she’s a good guy?
The Dark Kingdom’s finale is a disaster on all accounts. Not because the plot was bad, but because they completely changed the character to abdicate his own moral compass and sense of responsibility in order to keep Slott’s pet character on the main roster. It’s mind-boggling to know that our characters are so reversed from what we know and understand about them that I am unwilling to let this book slide on the fact that, for the most part, it was harmless. When you break down your character into a Tony Stark clone who gives away second chances like lifesavers candies, you have completely destroyed the character of Spider-Man.