Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #14


asm14-coverPOWER PLAY PART 3: AVENGERS ASSEMBLED

Judging by the cover, Iron Man’s getting his butterbean kick by the invincible Regent but never fear, true believers, Spider-Man is cleverly disguising himself as a club in order get past Regent’s defenses.  Will our intrepid hero be successful?  Read on and see!

 

The Devil in the Details

Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage

Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inker: Cam Smith

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: June 15, 2016

 

 

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

Feeling rushed by Betty Brant’s discovery and now possessing Miles’s powers, Regent makes quick work of all of the Avengers, leaving only Iron Man and Spider-Man bumbling around unaware.  In fact, the only hope superhumanity has left is Harry Osborn Lyman.

SPIDER-MANS-PAL

This new fan favorite character will get his own series this August!

Harry goes right up to Regent’s headquarters and calls in Spidey.  Spidey and Iron Man do little better than all the other heroes, their only advantage being that they know Regent is a threat.  In the end, they cannot find a way to overcome all the powers that Regent has at his disposal, and we end with him standing over their bodies claiming victory.

Oh, and Aunt May is about to die.  Again.

 

Analysis –

It seems that Miles is the most powerful being in the Marvel universe.  Between his camouflage ability and venom sting, no one is immune.  This arc would have been improved with more of Regent’s quest and less of Iron Man and Spidey bickering.  I have mixed feelings on the MJ/Peter interaction outside of Miles’s house.  I’m glad to see them interacting, but it still doesn’t feel like MJ talking to him.  This feels a lot more like a Peter/Carlie conversation, but ever since the deal with Mephisto, MJ has not been very recognizable.  MJ has dealt with the burden of Peter’s secret since Amazing Fantasy #15 so I’m not really sold on what was the straw that broke the camel’s back for her.

asm14-auntmayThere is a lot of talk between Dr. Stillwell and Regent about the limitations of his body and the suit.  My assumption is that we will end this by having him push himself too much and collapsing.  Maybe adding Spidey’s power to his suit will be just a bit too much for him to handle with all of the other powers and that will enable MJ to save the day with the Iron Spidey suit that she keeps referencing.    Then Spider-Man and Iron Man will work together and beat what is left of him and be besties forever.

I am curious about why Regent is so concerned about restraining Harry.  O.K., he discovered his secret.  Big deal.  Who is there left for him to tell?  Dazzler?

We do get a sub plot of Aunt May coughing up blood, but keeping this fact hidden from Jay. Coughing up blood is called hemoptysis.  According to WebMD, there are lots of possible causes for this:

  • Bronchitis (the most common cause) since this is rarely life-threatening, I think we can rule this out for the old bat (to use a JR phrase) (Crawlspace odds – 10%)
  • Bronchiectasis – again, since people can live a long time with this, probably not the right disease for Aunt May (Crawlspace odds – 5%)
  • Lung cancer – a good possibility here (Crawlspace odds – 50%)
  • Use of blood thinners – probably not – too ordinary (Crawlspace odds – 20%)
  • Pneumonia – if this were a good Victorian novel, she’ll die of this in a few issues. Probably got caught out in the rain last week (Crawlspace odds – 60%)
  • Pulmonary embolism – basically blot clots in your veins – it can be life threatening, but it is treatable too, so maybe a chance here, especially if she is ignoring it and allowing it to get worse (Crawlspace odds – 25%)
  • Congestive heart failure – well, we do have a long history of that (Crawlspace odds – 75%)
  • Tuberculosis – a bit too 1800s for today’s magazine, but a good possibility if Slott is wanting to prolong this (Crawlspace odds – 30%)
  • Dieulafoy’s disease – rare and treatable, so unless Slott is trying to bring awareness to this disease, almost nil chance here (Crawlspace odds – 5%)
  • Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions and pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (Crawlspace odds – 5%)
  • Trauma, such as a gunshot wound or motor vehicle accident – very intriguing, especially if it is complications left over from the Kingpin attack (Crawlspace odds – 80%)
  • Crack cocaine – that’s it! I imagine the issue to be titled “My Aunt, My Addict!” (Crawlspace odds – 100%)

Probably more likely that it will not have any explanation other than she is deathly sick (which I would be fine with).  I assume this is a lead in to “Dead No More” where Spidey will be tempted to go along with the Jackal headed man in red in order to get his Aunt back.  Since this is now a Spider-Man who will make a deal with the devil to get her back, what’s to stop him from going along Jackal-Man?

Lots of potential in this issue, but I left it feeling meh.

 

What Passed:

I’m not a fan or a detractor of Regent.  His biggest plus for me in this issue is the way he uses multiple heroes’ powers at the same time, like how he used the powers of Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales to subdue Nova (although being stepped on is doubtful enough to take out Nova, so I assume he’s also using some super strength from somebody).  If we are going to have a hero that can take all of these powers, I do like to see that he is using them.  Plus the crowd reaction is pretty funny.

ASM14-drunk-nova

MJ and Peter seem to maybe be making some inroads to repairing their friendship, at least.  However, I have little hope that it will last past this arc.

This web chute quip – the best part of this whole comic:

asm14-webchutes

Speaking of failing…

 

What Failed:

Most of the usual that we do not need to go into detail.  Camuncoli continues to draw outstanding costume heroes but a mediocre MJ and Peter.  The story overall suffers from the fact that we just read this story in Renew Your Vows (we even get hint of MJ suiting up for next issue).

Fight scenes – We have Regent taking down almost every hero by sneaking up on them and securing them without a fight.  One or two, maybe.  Pretty much all of them? A bit cheap.  Plus the ones that we do get have the scene truncated so that there is no actual fight.  It is common in Slott stories to have fight scenes take place off panel and it is very annoying to me.  Take Regent verses Thor.  I know this isn’t a Thor comic, but she’s the only one who put up a fight.  I would have liked to see this play out.

ASM14-thor

How exactly should we pronounce the word Thor when we see it like this?  And come on!  Regent punches Thor with that cool onomatopoeia and he only punches Spider-Man with a SPTAK?  Whose book are we reading?

What fails the most is the pacing.  This arc feels like it is going so slow and I can’t put my finger on why.  Maybe it was the prolonged Iron Man and Spider-Man playground antics in the first two issues.

 

Extra Credit:

Iron Man references Super-Adaptoids powers.  Bonus points for the first person to explain to us who Super-Adaptoid is in the comments section.

 

Final Grade:

We have a great concept.  Dan Slott is an idea machine, but the execution of many of these great ideas falls short.  I so want to like this, but I’m left with the feeling that I’m paying too much for what I am getting.  If I were not reviewing this comic, I would spend my money on a different one.  That makes me sad.

D+

Your Turn:

Break out that read pen, people.  What grade do YOU give it?

 

What’s Next?

asm15-preview“Power Play” comes to its rousing conclusion!

Regent’s master plan is working until Mary Jane Watson gets into the fray!

Oh good!  The CONCLUSION will be rousing!  And it doesn’t sound at all like the end of Renew Your Vows.  Can’t wait until July 6th to get this one…. 

(26) Comments

  1. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Jack - My tendency is to think that the Deadpool reference has nothing to do with the Dead No More, it is just the author trying to justify Pete's crappy life now that his soul mate is gone. Aunt May coughing up blood I believe only has to do with getting her near death so that Spidey is worried about bringing her back to life. However, if it is connected, my bet would be that May dies, the deal is broken so Peter and MJ remember they were together once, but there has been so much of a gap between them, that they cannot bridge it, thus heaping more misery on Peter. I don't want this, but it is how I think it might play out. I heard one interesting theory that Uncle Ben's clone will return, May will die, so now we'll get stories of Peter with his uncle instead of his aunt. I've read that What If, so I'm not keen on reading it in the comics, but it is an intriguing theory. @ Jason - Supposedly they remember their life together, it's just that they were in a committed relationship rather than marriage, so MJ remembering things should not be a breech in continuity (although who can keep it together?). I miss Peter too. My highest grade so far has been for an issue that had no Peter in it (not because I like no Peter, but because he wasn't poorly portrayed in it.

  2. Jason

    "We call it (insert day of the week here)" just means it's another typical day. I wouldn't reading into it any more than that.

  3. Jason

    @Mark Alford That's been my issue with Spider-Man for quite awhile. It's all Spidey, Spidey, Spidey, but we don't get many of the breaks into the Peter Parker life and the drama he has to deal with as a human being. Many times I was more interested in the drama than the actual villain Spidey was fighting that issue. Problems at home, work, school, etc., that's what helps a reader connect to a character.

  4. Jason

    @Friendly Reminder - I've been waiting for the Deadpool/Spidey trade, so I'm shocked to hear about the Mephisto appearance. Now I can't wait to read it.

  5. Jason

    Why did Regent think he needed the power of a God to defeat the Avengers? Shouldn't it be the other way around? I would think a god would be more difficult to beat than an Avenger.

  6. Jason

    MJ has dealt with the burden of Peter’s secret since Amazing Fantasy #15 - being that she wasn't introduced (partially) until ASM #25, this is not correct. I agree, she doesn't seem like the Mary Jane who was once in love with Peter. There seems to be this animosity toward him. Does she remember the deal with Mephisto? It seemed like she slipped up by bringing up something that happened in the past before Mephisto changed everything.

  7. Chase The Blues Away

    @Mohammed Regarding the Tuesday comment, it was just brought to my attention Dan Slott used that line before, in the Spider-Man /Torch miniseries. Ben Grimm says it to Peter when Peter freaks out as the FF, with him tagging along, break a space/time barrier: "We call it Thursday." So it's probably just Slott plagiarizing himself.

  8. Jack

    I am assuming that the real Otto, hiding inside the Living Brain, will transmit himself either into (a) a Otto Original-Recipe body that the Jackal has created (I assume it was the Jackal who stole Otto's body from the grave), or maybe (b) into a Peter-spider-body, thus allowing Slott to write a SpOck ongoing (once Silver Surfer is cancelled due to its poor sales). We'll see if I'm a better predictor than Stillanerd. @Mark -- what do you think about the on-line theorizing that the Mephistio deal is disintegrating? Aunt May coughing up blood is, to me, the plot element most consistent with that idea. Mephisto in DEADPOOL/SPIDER-MAN just clued Peter into a curse he laid on Peter, to Peter's puzzlement. In OMD, May was terminally bleeding out. Now she's coughing upm little bits of blood. The multiverse was annihilated by the Beyonders, minus Battleworld, and Reed Richards re-built everything from scratch. I raised this possibility on the MB months ago, that Secret Wars was a giant Ctrl/Alt/Del.

  9. Mark Alford

    @Jack & Chase the Blues Away - That's the problem with telling a story like this in a shared universe - you have to have Regent take down all the heroes in quick succession because otherwise it should either impact their own books in a major crossover event or they would band together to investigate what is happening to their own. We are supposed to assume that Regent has tremendous power and be in awe of him when he takes down Thor so quickly. If I remember correctly, didn't he rip the Hulk in half with little effort in RYV? So here we, as readers, sit in a Catch-22 - we would rather have this built up rather than shoved forcefully into the story, but then again, do we really want to prolong a Regent story? @Al - So you liked the issue? :) I think one of the problems with Slott's ideas is that they are all big ideas. There is no downtime between huge life/reality altering events and no B title to provide that either (I guess you could call Spider-Man/Deadpool a B title, but I mean something like Spectacular used to be - and I guess maybe the point issues are supposed to provide that, but they are so awful that even I struggle to find the silver lining in those clouds). Like now we have Civil War II coming up, but also Dead No More. I have event fatigue. Add to that the consistent break from tradition, it is wearisome. I think we all like a little break from tradition (Peter David's dark and gritty Spider-Man, for instance), but we still need a dose of "normal" Peter to make it mean something. @RDMacQ - I don't think I would like that unless the drama is going to be with Otto handling what he did. Spider-Man really shouldn't need ANOTHER reason to go after Otto. No, I'm sticking with her crack cocaine problem. @Mohammad - Thanks! I agree it is time for some fresh blood. My hope is that with Dead No More, the man in red will create an Otto and the real Otto will be so pissed at this, that he finds a way to come back in a (not THE) Peter Parker body. After the dust settles, Slott can move on to write a Superior Spider-Man title while someone else can pick up the pieces and restore the old order to out plain old Amazing Spidey. I think the Tuesday joke is just the popular joke of the time and there is no connection, but who knows?

  10. Mohammed

    A little edit on my previous post Where it says - on maybe just a little douchey It should say - ok, maybe just a little douchey

  11. Mohammed

    As always great review and spot on, on the rating To me this was not only boring, but (shaking head right now) I guess you could say frustrating, and what MJ told Peter just, well you can image how I would feel about that. Slott really does seem to get a kick out of making Spider-Man fans not care anymore. because I certainly don’t. And based on this I have no expectations for 15, even if Slott does turn out to have told the truth and Mary Jane does wear the Armour. And personally I see no connection to Renew Your Vows, at least that was fun. all this, at least to me, is basically Mary Jane saying how hard that life was for her and how she’s happy she’s no longer in it, where in reality it wasn’t hard for her, she could have left anytime, but she didn’t, she chose to stay and involve herself in Peter’s life as Spider-Man and we’re just suppose to believe that all that meant nothing, come on. From my perspective, Slott is using this story not to tell what’s going on with Regent, but to establish Mary Jane telling/show Peter, how much her life has improved since she no longer has to deal with Peter’s Spider-Man life, and Peter is still doing nothing to fix things between them, instead comes across and douche, on maybe just a little douchey compared to Mary Jane, who basically stepped on everything that was good in her life with Peter, I mean yes, Miles is in danger, but can’t he just put a few minutes aside and talk things through with her, is that too much to ask for a relationship that supposed to mean something. I mean he could've walk her home and talk to her, but Slott has to play the that card. Boy, I will be soo happy to see the back of Slott when he leaves,and I might even bake a cake to commemorate the event, because he has systematically destroyed everything that made Spider-Man Spider-Man. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my chest on another note Don’t know if this means anything, but if you read the preview for Might Thor #8 Jane foster mentions “Tuesday” in a similar context ASM #14 where Mary Jane and Peter are talking outside Mile’s house, who also mention “Tuesday” as in when something like this happens we call it “Tuesday”. Now I might be reading too much into but I just thought I’d mention it. Preview - http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-previews/the-mighty-thor-8-marvel-comics-2016

  12. RDMacQ

    Someone on another board mentioned that May is likely getting sick due to Otto's medical treatment back in Superior Spider-Man. So, no, it likely has nothing to do with what May caught in Africa, and it has nothing to do with her previous gunshot injury.

  13. Al

    @Jack: I think the timeline goes Invincible Iron Man’s current arc where MJ will eventually work for him (presumably we’ve been waiting since November) International Iron Man’s current arc (I’m presuming due to the covers depicting Mary Jane on missions with him). Power Play. Civil War II. With all due respect Jack isn’t having Aunt May deaged into a 40 year old and jus 20 years Peter’s senior like...really, really, really unreleatable? I had an idea to go the opposite direction and have Jay be the one who’s dying and then whilst this is happening Peter reveals his secret to her somehow. May and Peter have a falling out since May married Jay without knowing the full ramifications of what that means.

  14. Al

    I give this issue a G for Godalmightydidthatsuckshit. If MJ was going to be unable to deal with Peter’s secret or going to be unable to take it anymore it would’ve happened long, long ago. The whole issue had a lacklustre fight. Slott is an idea machine but he only has good ideas at best half of the time and only executes them well 1/8th of the time.

  15. Jack

    @Chase: Maybe it was the private religious/charitable agency we worked through that required all those shots. Personally, if I was writing ASM, instead of trotting out the "Aunt May is sick" cliche', I would hit the reverse and de-age May back into her forties. Imagine the entertaining drama that could come out of Jay Jameson dealing with a wife who's suddenly 30 years his junior, or how May's real, healthy, adult personality could re-emerge. Or how Peter would need to adjust. Except that would require a writer who has sympathetic insight into some complexity of human feelings and love relationships. If Camuncoli would draw his characters' pupils bigger, they wouldn't all look like they're on speed. Regent's pretty stupid if he thinks there's no difference between, say, Loki or the Masters of Evil vs the Fantastic Four. But of course this character comes from the same cynical hacks who decided to reveal on Memorial Day weekend that Cap has always secretly been a Nazi.

  16. Chase the Blues Away

    @Jack: That's interesting. I travelled on an American passport to Zambia and South Africa and didn't have to show proof of vaccinations. Maybe that's because I was a tourist and not doing volunteer work? Regardless, I doubt Aunt May will have contracted TB thanks to her charitable work for the Uncle Ben Foundation, even though that would be Parker Luck taken to the extreme. Slott seems to have a very different idea of what Parker Lucks means, i.e. Peter is just an unthinking screw up. I agree with you about the Regent. Not only that but he took them all down in, what, less than a week? Got to admire his work ethic, though, that's several superheroes per day.

  17. Jack

    Here's the thing about Africa, though: the U.S. government will not allow anyone to travel there unless they can prove they've had a full array of vaccinations for almost everything imaginable. I went through this in 2012, when I traveled to Nairobi on a missions trip. How can Carol Danvers be captured here, but be quarreling with Tony Stark in Civil War II? Does Marvel employ editors anymore? Shouldn't Ulysses have foreseen Regent's crimes? (I know, I know, I'm just saying...) This is just my opinion, but the idea that Regent could singlehandedly overpower all these people, including the Vision and Captain Marvel, is just too ridiculous. Thora should be on a par with the Hulk, if she's supposed to be RealThor's match. Or she could just fry his suit with multiple lightning bolts. Out of everything in RYV, Slott retained boring old Regent.

  18. Mark Alford

    @Frontier - I'm pretty sure you are right. Have you seen the Dead No More preview gif? http://www.spidermancrawlspace.com/2016/06/14/spider-man-dead-no-more-preview/ @Henry - That is exactly how he does it. Most writers use a panel-by-panel approach, but Slott likes the "Marvel-style" approach that Stan Lee used where you write the plot the artist draws it out, then the writer goes back and adds dialogue to make it all fit together. The pro on this is that the writing is faster, the con is that the writer has less control over how the finished product actually looks. I'm going to do a Cobweb post on the different writing styles of different authors, but that may take a while finding enough background information. The script aren't often made available. I do have some so look for it sometime near the end of summer or beginning of fall, @Cheesedique - I think he just did not realize the threat until it was too late to use the venom sting. But I get where you are coming from. Anytime you have a character with a deus ex machina power, it really mucks up the story telling. Spidey's spider-sense is often a problem when the plot needs him to get surprised. In the old comics Peter used to say stuff like, "That'll teach me not to listen to my spider-sense!" yet he would time and time again. Superman faces the same problem. Where is the line between cool power and overpowered?

  19. Mark Alford

    @Evan - When I looked up "coughing up blood" on WebMD and saw crack cocaine as a cause, well, what Crawlspace reviewer in his right mind would pass that one up! Maybe on the next Crawlspace exam I'll have a spelling question for that onomatopoeia! @Friendly Reminder - I forgot about that Mephisto taunting. Good call. Also good pairing with the newspaper strip. I need to bookmark that somewhere so that I can get a dose of the old Peter Parker once in a while. @Chase the Blues Away - Good call linking that to May's Africa visit. Boy, that would dump the extra guilt on Peter. She gets shot because he's Spidey. She then contracts a deadly disease because he's Peter. Man, wish I had thought of it. Crawlspace odds - 85% (the fact that it makes so much sense with the character of Peter knocked the percentage down a bit - given the current creative team).

  20. Friendly Reminder

    I kind of found it interesting how in ASM, MJ is criticising Peter for his secret I.D, yet in the newspaper strip edition published on the same day, she was actually impressed with him keeping a secret I.D under pressure

  21. Henry

    Slott has stitched together another set of daily comic panel one liners. It's mystifying to me how a disjointed and non-sequitarian approach can actually come together into an overall plot. He must write the plot first and then stick the rest together like the pieces of Mr. Potato Head.

  22. Frontier

    Wouldn't it be just perfect it Aunt May was near death just as the Jackal is bringing people back to life for the sake of others, so Peter would be willing to make another deal with the devil? Because we obviously need to be reminded that Pete will make deals with evil figures just to save his old, frail, aunt.

  23. Chase the Blues Away

    Wonderful review! May coughing up blood also reminded me of Victorian novels, as it was the number one sign someone is about to die a protracted, tearful death - usually a female. So that sounds about Slott's level of subtlety. Although in the novels the disease was usually consumption aka tuberculosis. Come to think of it, May has been in Africa as part of the Uncle Ben Foundation. According to the World Health Organization, Africa has the most cases of TB per population and TB is South Africa's number one killer. Wow, that would really be some bad Parker luck, Peter. Although that would also be using Parker luck correctly, so I doubt that's what Slott is doing here. Peter and Mary Jane's conversation was painful in a hamfisted, "no one talks that way" way. First, MJ apparently has Tourette's Syndrome when it comes to the word "tiger" as every male must be addressed that way. Second, Peter deserved his dressing down by Tony for being an idiot and promising the Morales family that Miles would be home soon. This isn't covering for yourself as a teenage superhero, Peter, this is a grown man with a billionaire dollar company making promises about a kid's safety to his parents that he can't make. Then in the conversation with Peter she's pissed Peter has a secret identity, which comes out of the blue. No, Slott, see, when you last wrote her, MJ couldn't handle the superhero lifestyle because IN SPITE OF Peter's secret identity she was a target. If Peter had a public identity, she would be in even more danger! Slott can't even keep his own out of character characterization out of character, and has to come up with new ways to write out of character. This issue gets an L for Ludicrous and Not in Good Way from me.

  24. Friendly Reminder

    Suddenly the reason why Mephisto visited Peter in Spidey/Deadpool makes more sense...he knows May's time is running out and is taunting the amnesiac Peter with the knowledge the deal proved ultimately to be for nothing.

  25. Evan

    Spider-man doesn't have a good history of handling the potential death of Aunt May in the most grown-up way, but I guess this will be consistent with his current characterization. And maybe it will lead to another retcon which, again, regarding his current characterization, might be a good thing. At least Thor's hammer "SPTAK!" and not "Blrkbqrkpqrblnb!" It's slightly more pronounceable. I laughed out loud at the "Crawlspace odds -- 100%" Great review!

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