Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #9

asm9coverScorpio Rising Part 1: One Way Trip

“This is Spider-Man we’re talking about.  Not Thor!”


Here is how Marvel sets up this issue:
“Scorpio Rising” starts now! The Amazing Spider-Man’s latest adventure takes him all across Europe in the final showdown with The Zodiac! Scorpio puts his master plan into motion and if he succeeds there’s no way Spider-Man or ANYONE can stop him.

However, for me this issue just presents several questions:
Is it possible to like something you hate?  Can Spider-Man work in space? After all, James Bond tried this and failed miserably.   How much does a satellite cost?  Will Anna Maria ever find love?  Will the cover match the story?  And what major character will be coming back soon?

All these questions and more will be answered, folks, as we dive into a review of Amazing Spider-Man #9.


The Devil in the Details

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Editor: Nick Lowe


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

O.K., the plot is pretty simple.  Nick Fury Jr. comes to the Baxter Building.  Spider-Man has a grand plan that involves them going into space.  Junior’s got nothing better to do, so 3-2-1 BLAST OFF! and off the they go.  The problem is that Zodiac still has control over all of SHIELD’s satellites and the only way to regain control is the manually fix them.   Scorpio is surprised by this move (despite having Gemini who can see a day in the future) and frantically sends some satellites to blow them out of the sky.  Junior holds them off while Spider-Man not only fixes the satellites, but also uses them to figure out where Scorpio is keeping the artifact he used the satellites to find (the Orrery).  Spider-Man uses his spaceship to blow up the last of the killer satellites and then free falls back to Paris (yes, you read that correctly) where Scorpio is waiting to kill him letting him know that he has seen the future and Spider-Man’s not in it.

Oh, and Anna’s got a new boyfriend and the Living Brain is having none of it.


What Failed

thorWell, the usual.  P.I. has so much ability even though they are less than a year old.  Spider-Man is in space instead of swinging through the streets.  And so on.  In fact, Slott even addresses the fact that this is not like Spider-Man at all by including the panel to your right.

Plus, I like to have my heads of super villain organizations to be tough.  Scorpio whines through the entire book.  He says things like, “That’s not fair!”

Then there are the reality checks, which I hate to do since we are reading a comic, but sometimes I just need a little more to suspend disbelief.  Can someone survive a free fall from space?  Well, Cheryl Stearns, who is currently going for a jump from the stratosphere for a world record says that about 110,000 feet is about as far as a person can push it.  Well, I’ll give Spider-Man more credit since he can do anything a spider can and all, and plus he does have a  pretty nifty space suit, so let’s say he ca do, oh, ten times that and can fall safely from over 1 million feet.  We still have a problem since he is at satellite height and that’s at, oh 117.5 million feet.  (Yes, I am that much of a nerd and looked it up.)  But, I am reading comics and if I am told I have to believe that Spidey can do “ballooning” while keeping up with a jet engine (just read ASM 1.2), I guess I can stomach this.

Oh, and I felt the new zodiac sign being  the sign of the Spider was a bit cheesy.   Scorpio really seems to be waiting a long time for this alignment to come about, but when it does, he is more focused on killing Spider-Man than whatever it is that this alignment will do.  Priorities.  How did he become the leader of this group?

The cover has absolutely nothing to do with this story.  I get the feeling the Alex Ross probably hates this series and said, “I’ll just draw something cool,” instead of taking the time to read the story.

What Passed

itguyO.K., here is where I surprise you all.  I found this story pretty fun to read.  Sure, it has many of the problems that the previous issues have, but I found myself getting tired of constantly not liking the book for the same reasons.  I figured if I either need to buy this as the Spider-Man I’m going to get or I need to stop buying the book.  Well, I’m not about to give up the top dollar pay check Crawlspace gives to their reviewers, so I better accept Slott Spidey if I am going to get through this.  Notice I said accept – that does not mean endorse, love, or even like.

To make matters a little better for me, Peter Parker is non-existent in this book.  I love a good Peter Parker story, but I haven’t read one of those in quite a while.  With this just being Spidey, I can overlook some things.

The humor was much better this issue.  Spider-Man didn’t explain any of his references.  The pop song reference was at least a tribute to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.


I even got a kick out of him naming the spaceship the “Arachno-Rocket”.  Felt like I was reading a 70s comic. 

websIf I am going to have a tech-based Spidey, then I’m fine with the fun tech.  We get to add some new tech to our current list:

Cartridge #3 – acid webbing
Cartridge #6 – micro-coiled z-metal
Cartridge #7 – quick drying wet cement webbing
Cartridge #8 – expanding web foam
Micro Spider-Tracers
Homing Tracers
Emergency Beacon (sirens)
Back Spinnerets with emergency web foam

And we get an acknowledgment of what must go if he is going to pack all that into his suit.

Plus the art is much better.  I’m glad to have Camuncoli and Smith back.  The coloring is good too.  The colorist was put in a position where most of the colors had to be blue and black, yet made it work.

The cover is absolutely awesome.  I would hang that as a poster in my classroom.

Extra Credit

I’m giving Slott extra credit for this joke:


And I’ll give you extra credit if you can figure out if Fury got a deal on his satellites or not.  He complains that they cost $26 million a pop.  How much do satellites actually cost?

As an extra bonus, Nick Lowe gave us a glimpse of the future at the end of the comic in a column he called Nick’s Notifications.  Our very own (well, I guess now it is Iron Man’s very own) MARY JANE will be returning soon.  In what manner, I don’t know.  I assume it is only to have her come in an insult Peter, but maybe I’ll be surprised!

Final Grade

I don’t like this Spider-Man, but I did enjoy this comic despite its shortcomings.  I asked the question early, “Can you like something you hate?”  Well today I’m saying yes.


Shocked me too.  I know that the more I analyze this, the more likely it would be that I will drop this grade.  Go ahead. Fill the comments section by telling me how wrong I am.  I can take it.  I teach high school seniors, after all.

Coming Soon


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(30) Comments

  1. Jack

    I just realized the reason they have Spider-Man's items glowing for no good reason is because it makes him look more like Iron Man. Duh.Slott had Otto's lenses look a certain way because they doubled for him as LCD screens, so there was a granule of sense there. This current "glow-little-glowworm-glow" look is there just to mimic Iron Man, badly. Forget about stealth and skill. A kid with a slingshot could hit Spidey at 50 paces, just by aiming at the lights.

  2. Mark Alford

    @#25 & 28 - Yeah, I hate that quilted look. All this time I thought it had that shine and quilted look because it was like a thin layer of spider-armor or something, but this issue showed it ripping like cloth. I'm not quite sure what it is. Did I miss something, or have they not said why it is glowing green?Shocker - that's funny.

  3. Evan

    The only time I'm okay with Spider-man taking a trip into space is if he brings back some Prometheum-X.

  4. Realspideyfan

    @19- I agree with everything your saying but seeing as this is the series that is being displayed as spider-man is finally introduced into the mcu it's going to create this dichotomy between fans of the actual spider-man stories the ditko, Conway eras and this and almost make him inrecognizable when a new fan wants to read about him and reads "iron man, batman lite" spidey adventures. It almost does a disservice to their comics having slott portray the character as he has the last 7 or so years. Most if not all of the characters in their books are portrayed as they are in the movies barring of course the pc agenda Thor so them having this young down on his luck high schooler match up with his comic book version it's jarring.

  5. Mark Alford - Post author

    @#22 - I was really hoping that we would get a Superior Spider-Man after Spider-Verse. It would take place between when he left and when he returned. We were dealing with some time and dimension travel, so it could work - much like the Captain Marvel did that took place right before he died. I think PAD wrote that one.

  6. Jack

    It is so peculiar that the writer of ASM apparently finds Peter Parker so boring that he has constantly ridiculed him, but is utterly fascinated by Otto Octavius. Let Slott write a SSM series in which Otto gets a spider-powered body for himself, and put someone on ASM who appreciates Peter Parker.

  7. Phantom Roxas

    The closest you have to keeping this to a Spider-Man book is Doctor Octopus trapped in the Living Brain, showing himself as incredibly clingy. So much for him having better taste with women than Peter. But really, I think when the most recognizable part of Slott's Spider-Man is the VILLAIN that Slott seems obsessed with, it shows who he really cares about as the focus of this book.

  8. Mark Alford - Post author

    @#19 - I would say that's a pretty fair assessment. It's not the change that I think most people have a problem with as much as it is how much change to the point where you really have to stretch to see Peter Parker elements in the story. That and there has been so much big, changing stories that there is no regrouping to remember what the character is all about. I don't mind seeing Spidey get his butt saved by someone else. That's living in a shared universe. I don't mind every Spidey in the Marvel universe coming in and overshadowing him. I don't mind the big Parker Industries. I don't mind Spock getting the upper hand and winning for once. I do mind them all happening one after the other with no real reset back to the character.We know it will eventually go back. Spider-Man's character is too established in other media and pop culture to change for good. They need to keep going back to the roots to keep Spider-Man the top selling licensed character that it is. It's just I'm getting tired of waiting for it to happen.

  9. RDMacQ

    @#19- I can actually see where Slott is coming from here, though.I think that Slott is trying to be one of those "Big Idea" guys like Mark Miller or Grant Morrison. Those writers that really go big and insane, throwing out these HUGE ideas and concepts, REALLY taking the concept of "It's a comic book" and RUNNING with it. HUGE scale, BIG ideas, INVENTIVE concepts. That's what I think Slott wants to do.The problem is that guy like Millar and Morrison know how to use those concepts WITHIN the franchises they work with. When they go BIG with characters like Superman or Batman, they are merely building upon that which came before. They aren't changing the franchise or the characters. They are simply refocusing attention on aspects that may have fallen to the wayside. When Morrison explores Superman, he is celebrating the aspects that aren't normally focused upon, like the more Silver Age goofiness, or the grand scale of Superman's adventures. Or digging deeper into Batman's history and exploring aspects like the "Batman of Many Nations" that hasn't been touched upon in decades in favour of more "grounded" and "realistic" approaches for the characters. What they do is expand upon the material, but that expansion is still based on elements that were always part of the series.Slott, unfortunately, doesn't understand that. Spider-Man was never that "Over-the-top," balls to the wall sort of crazy type of book. There were fantastical elements, sure. But it was still always more grounded than any other series. Rarely did the series employ "Magic" science that could do anything anytime for no reason. Far from it. The series took pains to enforce that such things didn't happen. Spider-Man ran out of webbing CONSTANTLY. He used his brain to fight more than his fits, and he inventions made sense given the situation, if not MacGuyvered out of whatever he had available.So the only way that Slott can GO to that "Over the top, balls to the wall" type of level is to, essentially, transform the series into something that it's not. To twist and warp the narrative so far from what it was, from the very thing that Slott himself CONSTANTLY argued was "essential" to the series, that is has become virtually unrecognizable for what came before.Seriously- think about it- if you replaced Spider-Man with Iron Man in this story... would it really be all that different? Would the series have to change ANYTHING in it to make the story work?If not, then... this really isn't a Spider-Man book anymore.

  10. Realspideyfan

    It's issues like these where I wonder what slott thinks the average I.q. Of the reader is. I feel he writes these asinine scenarios and situations thinking "well my readers aren't all that great at drawing conclusions or independent thinking so free falling to earth from a satellite yeah no problem". After all the talented writers left after secret wars I'm curious to know what marvels long term plans are cause a lot of these books like this one feel like place holders.

  11. Neil Bogenrieder

    Did some research. Turns out it's about $50-500 million to build the satellite and launch it into space. So I really have to question how Fury was able to launch these satellites on a $26 million budget.Nope, wait, no I don't. Slott doesn't want me to think, so I can't question it.

  12. Mark Alford - Post author

    @#7- "Jump the shark moment" Ha! This book left the shark behind years ago! I'm waiting for Cartridge 9 to turn out to be something like Shark Repellent Webbing (a la Adam West). I thought about putting in the Ophiuchus sign, but I had already looked up how hot an astronaut would get re-entering the atmosphere, high high someone could fall from and survive, the height of the satellite, the cost of the satellite and figured I'm coming across TOO nerdy already. :)@#10 - Yep. Poor Aiden is not long for this world. The tragic thing is, once she sees how vicious Ock is, she'll not have anything to do with him and he will be off the deep end (blaming Spider-Man, no doubt).@#13 - Are you having troubles cashing your checks? BD keeps signing them "Peter Parker" and I'm beginning to think those Muppet Baby checks aren't real.

  13. Mycroft

    I'd really rather read the Dr McNinja version. Dr McNinja is very smartly written, and a lot of fun. The writer of Dr McNinja, Chris Hastings, is actually the guy writing Gwenpool, which is the only reason I've lent that idea any attention.

  14. Shaun Martineau

    "Well, I’m not about to give up the top dollar pay check Crawlspace gives to their reviewers, " *walks away laughing*

  15. Jack

    "...established ones are acting so far out of character its like watching the current season of Castle."Lol, yes, Slott's ASM is a lot like how the new runners of Castle have completely fouled up that series.

  16. ryan3178

    I actually got to read this yesterday and I have to say my grade is a C. I did think there were some great jokes between Spidey and Fury Jr. They were funny and there was a nice character interaction. However, as a fan of the Zodiac, this is the most whinny Scorpio we have ever had and even more, you are right, this is a repeat of Spider-verse. I am also no fan of: "Turn off your brain." writing. It basically calls the reader to be stupid and just enjoy what you have because you aren't going to get anything better. I am not looking for J RRR Tolkin writing here and I know I'm reading a comic, but this seems to be Dan Slott's writing prowess now. "Just read the comic and enjoy, it's not meant to make sense." But he is running logic out the door and it can be from Johnny Storm's druken stupor in issue 3 or the 1 million free fall in this issue. Then just landing in Paris and there is Scorpio: "I'm going to kill you now, because you are not in the plan." How both ironic and convenient it all worked that way. The move with Anna Marie, now that was an interesting turn, but she is the only cast member we care about at this point. Everyone is: "I'm evil over my own half-ass motivation." or established ones are acting so far out of character its like watching the current season of Castle.

  17. Evan

    "Spider-Man uses his spaceship to blow up the last of the killer satellites and then free falls back to Paris."Wow.Wonderful review. I remember once reading a review a few months ago (by Stillanerd, I believe) in which it was written that just because Dan Slott includes a panel in which he acknowledges something amiss about an issue, that doesn't constitute a valid excuse. In fact, that a panel like that needed to be included at all is the greatest indication of a glaring error.

  18. jack

    It's two different sets of criteria, is all -- if it's judged as a Spider-man story, it's a D. If it's judged as a stand-alone adventure of somebody called Hero X, it's a B-. I can sympathize with not wanting to gripe about Slott every month, too. However, not everyone is so flexible. Stillanerd/Mike just reported that US sales to stores of ASM have plunged 70%. Marvel knows the strong chatter that Slott should have left after SSM, hence Alonso saying that Slott had earned the right to continue, and Lowe trying to tease future plots, in an effort to retain readers.

  19. Yvonmukluk

    i'll be honest, the 'surviving re-entry from ISS height' would be a jump-the-shark moment for me if I were still reading this book.Also, there's already a 13th sign of the Zodiac - Ophiuchus (⛎).Also, I'll be honest, I worry about just blithely accepting a book's faults because it works if you don't think about it. That's kind of how you wind up with the sort of diminished expectations that leads to say, film audiences disregarding the last Mad Max because it didn't hold the audiences' hands to explain every single detail of the universe.But on the other hand, this review is marked on how much the reviewer enjoyed reading it, so I can't really complain from that angle.

  20. Mark Alford - Post author

    @#3 - I agree wholeheartedly. My higher grade is by no means a statement on the current state of Spider-Man comics. If I'm giving the series a grade, then the series is a D or D-. It is awful. I wish we had never gone in this direction. I don't mind changing Spider-Man's environment from time to time to keep things fresh, but we've been so far away from traditional Spider-Man for so long that it beats you down issue after issue. As far as I'm concerned, Peter hasn't been Peter since he made that deal with the devil - and I'm not just saying that because of the marriage.I'm also not trying to be "not too hard" on it because it is the main book. I certainly don't think we should look past the bad either. This comic has plenty of bad. I mean Spider-Man re-entered earth's atmosphere using web parachutes. Really?This B- grade is simply because this one comic made me smile. It's not because it is a good Spider-Man comic (it's not - it's no where close). It was just a fun story to read for me. On top of that, Spider-Man didn't have to be bailed out by someone else in his own book. On top of all that, the art was good and I could actually recognize people.The other comics didn't work for me, even when I "turned off my brain". This one stood out from the rest. I will not be going back to this issue with fond memories. I will not being buying variant covers to collect the set. I bought this one comic and for once in quite a long time, didn't regret it.So when I put that good grade on it, I winced, because I do agree with everything you said above. I just liked this really awful issue. And that's why we buy comics. We escape reality. And sometimes we can just enjoy a book because, well, Spidey jumped from a satellite to Paris and made a phone call to an old girlfriend at the same time. It's crazy. It's stupid. And for me, it was fun break in my day.

  21. Chase the Blues Away

    Great review! Enjoyed reading your thoughts on it.But gripes from me ahead, because I thought this issue exemplified the problems the book is having since Slott took over, but especially since Secret Wars.This issue was full of silly, ridiculous padding. It had only one nugget of information that was in any way germane to the main plot: Scorpio is in France. And it took practically an entire issue for Peter to figure that out and get there, in the most ridiculous, over-the-top and asinine manner. This issue didn't really advance the story and didn't tell us anything new about the characters (we already knew Peter is smart and a scientist - although apparently not one who understands real world physics, because his supposed calculations were nonsense. We already knew Nick Fury can shoot a gun. We already knew Peter's suit is packed with whatever deus ex machina device Slott wants him to have). Meanwhile, the Anna subplot was far more interesting and better told, and it took a page, tops.I agree about Scorpio's whining. And gee, how...convenient...Peter has a thought the ONE minute the Gemini guys can't see into the future. SO convenient, that. Also? The spider constellation and Scorpio's big plan feel like Slott is merely copying the Inheritors from Spider-Verse playbook: "See, there's this prophecy/written in the stars thing. And we need all the elements to align. And we have Master Weaver, I mean, Gemini, who can see into the future. And then there will be a ritual/ascension. And the Spider - not the wombat, not the toucan, not the gecko - is the secret mystical sign/secret mystical instrument of our doom. Blah blah blah." At least there is less senseless murder this time. (Also, if Gemini can see a day into the future - then shouldn't they have seen Spidey and Prowler attacking the Aquarius base?)I know it's comics. But that's not a reason for comics to be, well, stupid. Compare this issue to Ms. Marvel, which also came out today. It also had a very "comic book" plot: Kamala is tired of trying to satisfy all the different facets of her life: superhero, student, daughter. So she has her friend Bruno create Kamala golems - and the reasons why he could were well explained, made sense within the world of story, and had been set up issues ago - only, well, things go about as well as expected.So yeah. Walking, talking golems? Comic book. Can't happen in real life. But you don't have to turn off your brain to read Ms. Marvel. And it's a hundred times more fun, IMO.Why can't we have the same thing on Spider-Man?!

  22. RDMacQ

    @#2- But, if that is the case, shouldn't that be a detriment to the series?I'm not a fan of the "Turn off your brain" mentality when it comes to evaluating creative works. Yes, different creative endeavours should be have different methods of evaluation. Something like The Thing is a different type of film than The Godfather Part II. But neither film requires one to "Turn off your brain."Spider-Man is one of Marvel's flagship characters. HIs book is one of its' top sellers. We shouldn't have to not judge it too hard in order to make it "work," or not get too upset by it. That's giving it a free pass that, honestly, it doesn't deserve. That was part of the problem, I feel, for the early parts of BND, that people didn't want to be "Too hard" on it, because of one reason or another. That we should just "look past" the bad stuff at the "bigger picture," or not worry too much about it. But that didn't make the stories better, and in the long run, it made it worse.So, I don't really agree with the "Turn off your brain" and "Don't think about it too much" approach. Because, if I enjoy something, I should WANT to talk about it. Think about it. Read it or watch it again and again. I shouldn't just watch or read it once, and then throw it away for fear of further thought would "ruin" such an experience.Good works should make you want to return to it time and again. But if a story only works once before further viewing or analysis starts to cause it to fall apart? Then it's not a good story.And that is really Slott's legacy. His stuff is only good as long as you don't think about it. As long as you don't talk about it. As long as you don't discuss it and dissect it. As long as you don't share it with others and see what they think. But what does it really say about something if the only way to make it "good" is by never giving it any critical analysis, whatsoever?

  23. RDMacQ

    I swear, that is honestly the most common reaction to Slott's work that I've seen over the years:"I liked it until I started to think about it..."

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