“Tell him to meet us at Avengers HQ and maybe together we can fix this mess.”
While I ponder how the hell Mark gets his reviews out so fast, we should probably take a look at this comic and see if the Slott-mobile will be able to grind to a decent-enough halt.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #14
“Power Play, Pt. 3: Avengers Assembled”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Editor: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
We begin our story by showing Regent taking out the ANAD Avengers. (That’s impossible, Ryan ate them!) We see him using Miles’ Camoflauge to take out Ms. Marvel, then Nova, and finally taking out Vision and Captain America. (But he didn’t take the powers of Redwing. He’s missing out.) He finally takes JF Thor out, in a fight that takes place off-panel, and brings her back to the Cellar. (This must Dennis Quaid’s stash from The Parent Trap. Didn’t know he had a bottle of Jane Foster 1965.)
The comic then radically shifts tones as Peter, Tony and MJ are at the Morales household, where they cover Miles’ disappearance as a scientific development program for a joint Parker/Stark Industries team. (There’s some foreshadowing, except that Slott used it semi-cleverly for once. Wow, we might get a good #15!) Peter completely botches the plan by saying Miles will be home soon (Headdesk) and Tony and MJ chastise him, with MJ noting that working with Tony is better because of the secret identity politics. (Oh my god, I get it! Iron Man is awesome! I don’t need Slott telling me that, that’s Bendis’ job!) MJ walks off as Peter narrates to himself that he word tripping is just like how it used to be in college. (Uh, no it isn’t. Lying is against the Honor Code)
We then cut to the Cellar, where we learn that Regent has captured Betty Brant and placed her in his superhero storage collection. (First off, how did he capture her in the reception area or his workplace without anybody noticing? That’s ignorance of the First Amendment, freedom of press. If you’re a hero, then why are you violating sovereign law? Second of all, that’s not water there. It’s just cherry Jello) He then heads into his office, where we see Harry Oslyman waiting for him. Through some poorly-drawn exposition, we see Harry piece the puzzle together and find out that Roman is Regent. (I thought you already figured it out?) Harry sends an SOS to Peter, who is at the Avengers’ HQ with Iron Man. They head over to the Cellar and using the acquired superpowers of just about every marketable name at Marvel, (No hunting skills of Ka-Zar or companionship of Redwing? Ugh, this man sickens me!) he beats them into the ground, going into insane monologue mode as the issue concludes.
(Oh, and there’s a subplot about Aunt May coughing up blood? Tuberculosis, drugs, a gunshot wound to the chest? The possibilities are as endless as Donald Glover’s casting options in Spider-Man: Homecoming! As in Slott’ll just write that she’s dying, because Screw Specifics is the motto at Marvel’s editorial building!)
… I don’t want to set the wooorld on fiiiirrrrrre…..
Okay, let’s be fair here. In comparison to the last two issues, this one isn’t…. As bad. That isn’t to say that it’s spectacular by any means necessary, far from it. But it at least does… I dunno, something to redeem itself.
What I’m guessing has made the biggest improvement thus far in the Power Play is the pencilling by Camuncoli. Though it’s not perfect, it does look like it has improved substantially. The lines are more cohesive, and there’s even some improvements to the colors. We know Camuncoli draws masked superheroes well, Iron and Spider-Man are proof of that in this issue. But his obvious weakness right now is drawing regular faces. MJ and Peter both have some serious facial plastic surgery issues and may want to sue their plastic surgeons.
The writing is… better. Not great. Yeah, the guy from Sharknado describing some poorly made soup is able to describe Slott’s writing. I’ve felt like I’m a broken record because Slott has the same continuous problem as he continues to write the title, and it’s frustrating to continue writing the same problem, because I want to . Let me sum up what his writing style is: Hype up event, start slow build-up, blitz the readers with even more build-up, introduce subplots that will be resolved or built upon in the last arc, continue arcs that were built up in the previous story, boom, instant deus-ex-machina win with no real climax.
Wow, that felt good. Needed to properly assess Slott’s writing style. Now when I write these reviews, I’ll just put a link to this page and you can see what I think.
MJ simply serves as a background character here, to call Peter out on his shortcomings both as Peter and as Spider-Man, as though she looks upon their relationship with disgust. It’s weird to think that this is almost a year after Renew Your Vows, where Slott actually wrote a nice dynamic with Peter, MJ and their daughter, at least in comparison to his other works post-OMD. Iron Man is shown to be the end-all-be-all, having every solution to problems, and continuing Slott’s motif of the guest star showing up Spider-Man; ironic, given that the cover reads “World’s Greatest Superhero!”, which would imply that characters give him a shred of respect.
The Aunt May subplot is just obviously there as buildup for Dead No More (Oh, I’m sorry, the Clone Conspiracy. Because if Slott’s taught us anything, MOAR CLONZ!) and wastes about a page that could have been dedicated to developing Peter and Tony’s dynamic, since they seem to have gotten over beating the crap out of each other. But again, Marvel has proven they don’t care about establishing character relationships and just saying they happened. Which is the ultimate betrayal of the medium’s existence: show, don’t tell.
Look, I’ll be fairly blunt here. Slott went stale a while ago, both in creativity and in writing style. There is absolutely nothing that he has brought to the table since Secret Wars at the latest, Spider-Verse at the earliest, that makes me continue to have faith that Slott has any idea where to take the character. It’s also clear that the entire team behind Spider-Man has no fun working on the title at this point, and wants to shove as many pop culture references down my throat before they’re forced to pack their things. I’m not mad. I’m tired… and I’m absolutely furious.
Final Grade: D-