The Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #12 Review: The Bogenrieder Perspective

“Skip to the most embarrassing bits.”

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_4_12_Age_of_Apocalypse_VariantOh boy, MJ’s back under Slott’s pen. Either this will make me throw the comic at a wall, rip it to pieces, or a mix of the two.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #12

“Power Play, Pt 1: The Stark Contrast”

Writer: Dan Slott

Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inks: Cam Smith

Colors: Marte Garcia

Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis


We start off our epic with Peter struggling to get into his suit, which he rented instead of buying one tailored to his exact measurements. (Quite the mental titan, our Petey) Harry Osborn-Lyman-whatever recalls the night of Aunt May’s wedding since it took place in the exact same place, Bryant Park. (What a coincidence, right?! In all of New York, they picked the exact same location to hold a charity! What are the chances?) He also makes the point of stating that he wasn’t invited, (You lying little Goblin) and they reminisce over that night before being interrupted by not-Erik-Larsen-drawn-MJ (And with a radiant dose of blandness surrounding her, the air suddenly stales the second she arrives on panel!) MJ clunkily and vaguely exposits that she’s working for Tony Stark, and the Armored Avenger (Angry Alliteration Aggravates) makes his appearance.

Harry leads MJ away as Tony and Peter talk, and Tony calls Peter out on his fiascos in previous arcs, pointing out that Spidey’s antics are costing Peter’s company a pretty penny to clean up after. As Peter preps his opening speech, Tony introduces Mary Jane to Augustus Roman, CEO of Empire Unlimited (Well, I wonder who our bad guy is? Couldn’t be him), and they take their seats. Peter bombs his speech (Because I love it when my hero is incompetent at public speaking even though he was doing it perfectly fine in the first issue. And he also makes the Uncle Ben Rice joke. Classy.) and gets interrupted by none other than… the GHOST! (Spooky!)

Both armor up (Why does Spider-Man have armor? And why does it operate like the suit from Spider-Man Unlimited?) and try to fight off the Ghost, but it looks like they’re probably trying to do it before the other. (Welcome to the 80s, my friends!) Eventually, they combine forces and defeat the Ghost, who was hired by Alchemax to take down Parker Industries again (Because it worked great the first time! Also, where the hell are the other ANAD Avengers? Did Ryan eat them?) and everybody is okay! (Because consequences don’t exist in this universe!) Peter later sulks that MJ is working for Stark and tries to hire Pepper Potts, who promptly shuts his offer down, leaving Peter to sulk some more. (Maturity. Peter doesn’t have it)

And so our comic ends with Roman heading back to the Cellar (that isn’t an ominous name at all) where he’s interviewed by Betty Brant. (Hey, look, another classic Spider-Man character! It only took us, what, 9 issues?) We get told via the classic flashback that he seeks to contain superheroes because his wife and child got killed in the crossfire of an Avengers battle. (Haven’t heard that backstory before) And as he transforms into Regent, he reveals his next targets: The ANAD Avengers! (Good luck with that. Ryan already ate them)


So, here’s a little picture to kick things off.

Photo on 5-13-16 at 8.34 PM

This picture is what I felt like while reading this comic. (And yes, that is yours truly in the picture.) Every twist and turn made changes for the worst, and displayed the character of Peter Parker in the worst light that I have seen since starting to review for this site.

I have seen a lot of crap since I started reviewing comics and movies. And this is probably the apex of the crap mountain I’ve climbed in the past three years.

Let’s start off with the art. This comic obviously needed to be pushed back, because Camuncoli’s team needed a real break. There has to be somebody who can at least give Camuncoli a cooldown period so they can get their act together. I noticed all sorts of technical errors when I looked at it up close.  There were incomplete lines, faded textures, flat colors and shadows, and just all around bland backgrounds. Now, if this was some random webcomic from off the internet, I could accept that. After all, not all of us have access to the tools necessary to make high profile art. However, this is Marvel, one of the Big Two. (Or three, if you want to count Image or IDW, but it’s a stretch.) They should be able to do better than this. Not only are the technicalities bad, but the art itself is lackluster.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 8.43.32 PMI won’t talk about MJ, Mark, Mohammmed and half the Crawlspace played Captain America: Civil War with that topic already. But even not talking about the Rambunctious Redhead (See, Mark? I can alliterate too!), characters look like they could care less about anything. We only see dull expressions on characters’ faces. And while Humberto Ramos may have had worse expressions on his characters, at least it was his norm. This is disturbing since Camuncoli is usually a great artist on this title. This is probably blamable on burnout on Camuncoli’s part since he’s been drawing non-stop for a while for ASM, and while I hope it gets better next issue, we’re talking about the present. And in that present, this does not pass for Marvel’s standards, nor does it pass mine.

Not only does the art not pass inspection, but I actually cringed when I read some of the dialogue. Harry of all people has the best dialogue, actually making some pretty passable lines, with Tony coming in a close second with some pretty good fight dialogue. But people like Peter and MJ have absolutely atrocious line delivery, and I actually felt like doubling over when I read it. Camuncoli’s dull art doesn’t exactly help shoot the target either, making the characters have a Ben Stein approach when they talk. Hint: That’s not a good thing.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 8.44.02 PMRegent is at least definitely improved from his RYV iteration, though not by much. He hasn’t really changed much, other than that he has an origin that somehow bears way too much similarity to the general public of Captain America: Civil War in that they want meta-humans kept in check. At the very least, it’s an understandable idea, but it’s explored so little that it feels like it was just tossed in there because they needed a reason for Regent to exist, so Slott pulled his pencil out of his ear and wrote that down.

Slott also seems to be placing a lot of the issue’s crutching on self-awareness. Specifically, mocking the fans’ whining of how Peter Parker is becoming an Iron Man clone and Parker Industries’ corporate mascot. And, ironically, this is mostly stated by Tony himself. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, pointing out your own flaws and shortcomings in terms of your own writing does not make you a better writer. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead of trying to fix the character back to a street-level hero in New York, Slott has continued to push the character down into his own grave à la Kraven’s Last Hunt, and refuses to dig him back up even if it is for the better of the character to do so. It is very clear that Slott is wanting to write Iron Man, since he is the character with far superior dialogue. For better or worse, this is Slott’s pleading message to Bendis to swap jobs.

And this cry for a career change is ultimately displayed in the attitude of Peter Parker himself.

Throughout the entire issue, Peter is shown to be acting like a complete child, showing the maturity, attention span and emotional control of a 15 year old. He starts off his speeches by comparing his dead uncle to a rice mascot, (Even internet reviewers have made the joke better) measuring sizes with Iron Man and wanting to fight the villain because he’s more popular, goading the Ghost into attacking him instead. But that pales in comparison to his jealousy of MJ moving on with her life. Like that clingy ex-boyfriend we all know, he then tries to hire Tony’s ex, Pepper Potts, before getting shot down and pouting like that one guy who got rejected on his invitation to prom. It’s childish, unfunny and serves no relevance to the overarching story, other than to make me hate the new Spider-Man even more than I already did.

Amazing Spider-Man #12 is a failure of gargantuan proportions, and fails to accurately put anything into perspective for the Power Play arc. The art is semi-amateurish, and the characters act childishly and like I’m reading my old fanfiction from five years ago. Nothing adds up, and lacks any substance to properly get me hyped for the rest of the arc. While I sum up my feelings for the comic with this one picture, I think I’ll go write a book.

I’ll call it An Avenging Appetite: How Ryan317 Ate the All-New All-Different Avengers. And nobody will read it.

87201656 Final Grade: F+

(22) Comments

  1. Jack

    1. Does Camuncoli draw Peter kind of thick and chunky? I'm used to a non-chunky Peter. 2. A Creative Fiction textbook I started reading makes a distinction between story and plot. The writer said that story = what happens, and plot = why it happens (actions in the story occur because propelled by character motives, goals, and feelings). First, has anyone ever heard of this distinction before? And second, using those definitions, I think Slott is absurdly heavy on story but way too light on plot. Characters do things so that story happens, but they are motivated for the slimmest of reasons, reasons that make no sense, or no reasons at all.

  2. Bill

    #7, I was thinking the same thing right after I saw "CA: Civil War". That it's a crying shame that a movie has a more faithful (comic accurate) version of Spider-Man than the comics now do. How freaking sad is that? I don't understand why they (whoever the hell is actually in charge of the Marvel comics division) would let some writer-for-hire continue to completely crap all over their flagship character. Makes zero sense to me. Do they just not care?

  3. Al

    @#16: At best I question Bendis as a good MJ writer at the moment. That is all I shall say here. Other works he has done indicate he doesn’t have a bad idea for her though. @#17: Hey so long as people aren’t saying you pass for 90s Kaine I think that’s a compliment Peter was a little dopey the day he met MJ but he was flirting with her just fine once he got over the initial shock of meeting her. When she showed up in Stern’s run following their break up and her leaving NYC, whilst there was some awkwardness he wasn’t a bundle of nerves or anything and could talk to her plainly, even whilst old feelings crept up on him. Same sort of thing in the JMS run. He made no mystery that he wanted to get back together with her but the only time he was nervous around her it was tied to the idea of them becoming intimate again, which isn’t what’s happening here. Oh no, I agree with you that the REASON why his art is poor is that he’s burned out. But like you said it just isn’t a justifiable excuse. Perhaps he was just fed up with the lame ass stories he had to pencil. Slott is no stranger to this. Remember how in ASM #700 he lampshaded how he wrote MJ repetitively during the course of his run? Yeah, you lampshaded it doesn’t mean it’s now okay When you have Spider-Man of all people underreact to emotional stimuli you have not only objectively fucked up you are a shite Spider-Man writer period. Why anyone regards Slott highly I will never know.

  4. Neil Bogenrieder - Post author

    *slaps together hands* All right, time to reply to some comments for once! @4- People have actually said I could pass for Peter Parker at Comicpalooza multiple times in recent years. It also doesn't help that I made a Kaine Scarlet Spider costume last year for Halloween. @6- You and me both, George. By the time Goblin Nation was done, MJ was basically a tertiary, poorly-written character; basically, she was shoved to the side for a hip, new supporting cast. If Brand New Day taught anybody anything, it's that a hip, new crew makes your product dated in retrospect. @8- From what I'm aware, except for their initial encounters, Peter has never stumbled on any of his dialogue when MJ was in the vicinity. Then again, I'm not as well-versed on early Spider-Man as I usually am, so I may need to to go back in check. In any case, if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. @10- Yes he is! The thumbs-down pic was a last-minute choice that ultimately I think worked out well. allowing me to make a general thesis regarding the comic in a concise format before expanding upon it in detail. (Yeah, I paid attention during English class) @11- I'm not going to say that I accept burnout as an excuse for Camuncoli's lackluster art, but it's really the only reasonable explanation for why it floundered so poorly here. The only other one that, mind you, is a very large stretch is simply a lack of time to complete, but as far as I'm aware, these pages are done weeks before publication. So even then, I have a hard time figuring it out. Plus, he had a little break between issues 6 and 8, so even then I can't understand why Camuncoli dropped the ball. @12- It's good to be back! Slott apparently realized that I thrive on bad material, so he built something for me just so I'd have enough negativity to transition into the next issue! I need to give him a cookie... wait, that's a bad thing.... @14- Now, it's important to know that I can find self-awareness funny if it's done right. Deadpool under the right pen is exceptional when it comes to this. Probably, my favorite example is Brainstorm's meta-bomb; Basically, it makes the affected persons believe they're a secondary character in somebody else's narrative and lose the will to fight. It's meta humor done right, without sounding tacky as a side effect. Here, Slott fails because he's trying to have the other characters point out the flaws in the narrative. And it doesn't work because he's only trying to cover up really glaring mistakes. But I'm glad you like the asides! That's probably my favorite part of writing these reviews. And while we're talking about the Signal from Fred, we might also want to address that Slott's run suffers from "Wiring diagram fiction", something I didn't mention in the review, but I want to bring up. It's a writing hole where the characters have no emotional reaction because they are overwhelmed by gadgets and didactic lectures. Spidey is very emotionally bland when I look at him. He just seems so... dull right now. @16- Can vouch. It's a good read right now. Especially issues 4 and 5. Then again, jaded Slott reader, so I'm not sure where my opinion stands.

  5. Mohammed

    @15 George, I would recommend issues 4, 5 & 7 especially 5 of Invincible Iron, to see how much of a huge improvement Bendis and Marquez are over Slott I regards to MJ. With one page he brought back the Mary Jane I grew up with and who never saw under Slott. and to answer your statement about waiting on a writer that understands the importance of characterization and consistency, right now I believe that Bendis is that writer, I feel he does understand the type of character we're looking for in Mary Jane, and has somehow made it work even with the changes Slott made to her. Just to start you out, have a read of my reviews of the issues I pointed out

  6. George Berryman

    @13 - Oh I'm not saying Bendis is doing right by the character. I don't read Bendis comics so I can't comment on how good/bad the stuff with MJ is right now. Just that it's safe to assume she's eating dinner half the time with situations that are drug out to pad a trade. :cool: From what I read here at the site she fares better than she did under Slott, but not by that much. I'd rather no one touch MJ as a character until a competent writer that understands the importance of characterization and consistency - Hell, even one who just understands Peter and MJ as characters and that won't clumsily reshape them to fit a self-serving fanfiction - can find his or her way to ASM to replace Slott.

  7. Chase the Blues Away

    "Slott also seems to be placing a lot of the issue’s crutching on self-awareness. Specifically, mocking the fans’ whining of how Peter Parker is becoming an Iron Man clone and Parker Industries’ corporate mascot. And, ironically, this is mostly stated by Tony himself. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, pointing out your own flaws and shortcomings in terms of your own writing does not make you a better writer. Quite the opposite" This was my favorite moment of the review (well, aside from the asides, which as always are great). I think Slott is trying to lampshade and make us laugh with him, only it boomeranged and we only laugh at him. IMO, Slott has a classic case of "Signal from Fred," a term coined by SF/F writers for when "the writer's subconscious, alarmed by the poor quality of the work, makes unwitting critical comments." Fred is signaling Slott with a warehouse's worth of lit flares.

  8. Mohammed

    @#6 You and me both George, while it is sad to see her away from ASM, what Bendis & Marquez, even Deodato Jr, has done with her has definitely been worth it.

  9. Mohammed

    Welcome back Neal, I missed you negative grade. and great choice with the thumbs down image.

  10. Al

    *claps* To be honest I really do not find Cammuncolli being burned out to be an acceptable excuse. He’s been doing one issue per month for a long while now and the stories have been mostly decompressed. Back in the 1960s-1980s 99% of Marvel artists kept on time solid artwork month-to-month. Ron Frenz kept that up when he returned to drawing Spider-Girl from the mid-2000s-2010. Bagely did it on USM for many years. I know they are both elite artists, but back in the day that was never a big deal. In fact they had it worse since panel layouts especially in the 60s-80s were smaller. You kept to the contors of the panels and didn’t go outside of them too often and you often depicted action in smaller panels than we have now when artwork has become much bigger. And on top of that the stories were usually stand alones so it wasn’t like they had the luxury of drawing anyone beyond the lead(s) and the supporting cast over and over again, getting used to it. Camuncolli has had to draw Zodiac and Cloak and Dagger and Mister Negative for more than one issue in a row. He has it MUCH easier than the artists of yesteryear and they didn’t let the quality slip or get burned out after a mere 12 issues. I can understand Peter being upset over MJ working for Tony. My problem was that he both wasn’t upset in the right way and that his reactions to it spoke ill of him. @#6: Yes that.

  11. Enigma_2099

    The Crawlspace paid respects to the passing of Darwyn Cooke. And no one will care, because they'll be pointing out that your review was too negative.

  12. Al

    In fairness to Peter he bombed his speech because of MJ’s presence...dunno if that’s in character though.

  13. Realspideyfan

    It's tough to consider that right now the more well written and enjoyable spidey is the 15 or so minutes in civil war he was in. You get a more thorough examination and likable spidey than we've had in all of slotts years.

  14. George Berryman

    @5 - This is why I said I was glad MJ was leaving at the end of Goblin Nation - so she could be somewhere else where Slott couldn't inflict more harm on the character than has already been done since BND.

  15. RDMacQ

    I actually think that Slott is honestly trying to set up Peter and MJ together again. The problem is that it is filtered through his "lens" of the fact that Peter shouldn't be with MJ. So he's going about it in the way of "If I have to do it, I'll do it my way." So we get Slott likely trying to "fix" mistakes with MJ, or trying to make her more appealing as a character to him. I can see him trying to rationalize it that MJ is showing just how well she knows Peter, how good of a "friend" she is, with her ribbing. That Slott sees this as her being "playful." It's a mischaracterization, but that's nothing new with Slott.

  16. WolfCypher

    Neil looks like a real life young Peter Parker. So we have a Peter Parker giving a Spider-Man book a thumbs down. Its too much!!

  17. Shaun Martineau

    Very entertaining review, I like the commadirie you and Mark have built with your dual reviews. Poor MJ, poor Spidey fans.

  18. Friendly Reminder

    Great review, though I still don't think "MJ" has moved on with her life, she tries to, but she can never quite shake Peter (she even points out to Augustus in the issue that she's resisting the thoughts in her head that tell her not to be here, so her attending is probably the part of MJ's soul that remembers the old timeline, the one that promised Peter in OMD they would always find each other again regardless of what the magic did to them, and wanting to get in touch with Peter)

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