Alford Notes: Civil War II Amazing Spider-Man #2


coverA Civil War engulfs the Marvel universe.  Hawkeye’s having a bad day.  Hulk’s is worse.  Captain Marvel and Iron Man are disagreeing.  But never fear, even though this is a tie-in, you’ll be safe from all of these story-lines in this issue of Clayton Cole, the Spectacular Clash Guy!

 

The Devil in the Details

Writer: Christos Gage

Artist: Travel Foreman

Colorist: Rain Beredo

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Travel Foreman and Jason Keith

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: July 13, 2016

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

quintronicmanSpider-Man, thanks to a heads up from our favorite Inhuman Ulysses, tracks down a Quintronic Man and defeats them easily by letting them know that they are about to overheat.  The rest of the story is all about Clayton Cole’s very bad day.  He can’t hang out with his henchmen friend (who is super understanding about that), his parents are jerks, his girlfriend dumps him because he used to be a bad guy and her son likes him too much, Spider-Man and Ulysses keep giving him strange looks at the office, Clayton quits because he feels betrays, rebels against the establishment by violating his parole and hanging out with his henchman friend at the henchman adult beverage hangout, runs into Mendel Stromm who wants to hire him to set up Harry Osborn Lyman by helping him crack Parker Industries’ security, which Clayton refuses to do.  Meanwhile, Peter feels stupid about what he did and leaves messages for Clayton, offering all sorts of raises if he’ll come back.  Clayton rethinks his position, goes home, shaves to look good for going back to ask Peter Parker for a second chance, and suits up in his Clash costume to call Stromm to tell him he’s in.

What Passed:

Starting off with a fight again is a strong point, even if Spider-Man defeats the Quintronic man easily.

POP QUIZ

Which super tough hero once had a hard time defeating a Quintronic Man?

a. Thor
b. Hulk
c. Wolverine
d. Sentry
e. Squirrel Girl

Spider-Man Question

Click image to see the answer.

Spider-Man knew from Ulysses that the Quintronic man would explode, but it was his own tech savvy skills that allowed him to know how to show the leader of the group what would happen.  For a minute, I felt like I was reading a real life Spider-Man comic.  Plus, we get the Onomatopoeia of the Issue! (new Alford Notes feature!)

bloop

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 6

 

I like that it now seems that colorist all around the spider titles are making the spider on Spidey’s chest glow blue.  I’m not a fan of the glowing, mind you, but to glow blue still makes more sense that glowing green.  However, I’m still holding out that some colorist will take my idea and make it a mood glow and change the color depending on Spidey’s feelings at the time.

While I’m also not a fan of flashbacks, I understand that they are vital in an episodic medium such as comics and I like how Foreman showed us the flashback happening inside the head. I don’t like the art (more on that later), but I like the idea of how this was accomplished.

Gage also gives us some nice transitions, such as the moment when Peter says, “I guess you don’t really know what’s going on with someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes,” and then you turn to page to see Clayton stepping in a puddle and you know his day is going to be cruddy.  The time stamp showing the progression of the day is a nice touch too.

The retroactive recorder is a cool device and has just enough comic book science to make it seem like something that should exist in a world like this.  Plus, it is a simple way to showing Clayton’s genius.

The Moynihan’s Social Club was a nice new place to visit in the Marvel universe.  This is, as far as I can tell, the first time it is mentioned in a Marvel comic book and I hope it doesn’t go the way of Leo Zelinsky’s tailor shop.  I love how it is for the henchmen and not the big dogs:moynihans

And last, I like that I can read and understand this book just fine without buying the Civil War main series, although I am surprised that they aren’t giving us peeks behind the curtain to make us want to read the main series.  I thought that was one of the purposes of a tie in.

What Failed:

The cover does not inspire me to pick up this issue.  However, the issue is such that I’m guessing it would be hard to create an accurate cover for this issue since not much actually happens, but I’m betting it could be done, especially with two creative minds working on it.

I’m not a fan of Travel Foreman’s art inside the issue.  Look at the panels below and tell me which one is Peter:

badartpeter

Without context, there is no way of knowing for sure.  I’m not an artist and Neil, who is, can address this more eloquently than I can, but my standard for comic book art is, and always has been, that the reader should be able to see the character and recognize him or her.  Period.  Exclamation point if it is a title character. On top of that, Foreman has a “messy” style.  I’m not saying that as an insult, but as a description.  There are a lot of extraneous pencil markings that is a part of his style.  I don’t fault that, but I don’t like it.  Maybe if he had an inker some of those extra marks would be eliminated and we wouldn’t get panels like this:

crazy cole

 

We have another in medias res story here, but I’ll forgive it since we needed that action of a Spider-Man fight to liven this story up some.

spideycomicIs this a Clash book or a Spider-Man book?  I really felt as if I am reading an issue of Tangled Webs instead of a Civil War Spider-Man tie in.  I am an English teacher, so forgive me if I miscounted somewhere (once I get past my fingers and toes, it’s a bit rough), but I counted 89 panels in this comic book.  Of that, Spider-Man or Peter Parker appear in only 33 whereas Clayton appears in 72 panels.  I’ll discuss this more in the analysis, but I buy a Spider-Man book expecting to see Spider-Man.  That may be because I am old fashion and stuck in an ‘80s mindset, but that’s just how I am.

Analysis

Even though the characterization is mostly about Clayton, it is very well done.  I’ve never been excited about Clayton Cole’s character, but Christos Gage has me invested in what happens to him, at least some.  One issue under Gage’s pen has brought so much more to Clayton’s life than the whole point series that Slott did a few years ago.  I loved that his henchmen friend is more supportive of Clayton than his parents are.  If the henchmen had dumped on him, I feel that would have been overkill and Gage plays it well.  His parents are overbearing jerks enough so to make us pity Clayton, but not enough to make us groan.  While it is fast and coincidental that everything bad is happening to Clayton in one day, I am o.k. with that since I don’t need issue after issue of Clayton’s life in my Spider-Man comic.  We get a snippet of his day and how everything is shadowed by his Clash incident from high school.  This streamlines well with the fact that EVERYTIME we see Clayton, someone seems point out to him that he used to be a villain.  Stromm’s angle of going after Harry instead of just being another attack on Parker Industries gives me enough to excuse the fact that we are building up for yet another PI employee going against the company.

On top of that, as I was reading, I felt that we were being given some red herrings and that Clayton is merely acting like he is going along with Stromm in order to be the guy who saves the day and shows Parker that he really does deserve this second chance.  This blends what Harry tells Peter about how Clayton is desperate to prove himself because of his lack of confidence with Harry also talking about the lure of the costume and power are an addictive combination like no other.  I liked that it was an idea in my head until I turned to the last page that has a picture of next issue’s cover which seems to show Clayton fighting alongside Spider-Man against Stromm.  Why spend all issue building it up, just to blow it on the cover?

One loose end I do have that I do not think Gage is planning on tucking in for us is why Cole already has an order for his suit in with the Tinkerer already.  Prior to this issue, we are not led to believe that Cole had any intention of returning to his suit, unless his idea is to become a superhero once his parole is over.

Despite Peter’s limited appearance, when he does appear, it feels like Peter, at least to me, and that is wonderful to see in a comic book.  I may not be able to recognize Peter’s look, but I see the character in his actions.

The discussion about forcing the prophecy to come true is an interesting subject to explore.  This is typical of Greek mythology.  When someone learns about the future (such as when Oedipus learned he was going to kill his father, marry his mother, and destroy the whole kingdom) they make it happen by trying to avoid it (Oedipus runs away not realizing that he is adopted, straight toward his real parents upon which he ends up fulfilling the prophecy – oh, spoiler alert).  This certainly seems to be the case here since it is the discussion that Spider-Man and Ulysses are having that is the straw that breaks Cole’s back (so to speak).

Extra Credit:

Can you identify these henchmen?  I do not know if they are just random characters or if Foremen in being clever by putting in characters from different criminal organizations.  Is that the clown from the Circus of Crime?

Henchmen

I’d like to think that the barman is someone that Patsy Walker found a job for and that the guys in the back are checking their HENCH app.

 

Final Grade:

If this were Tangled Webs or even Web of Spider-Man, I would be tempted to give this a B+ and maybe even entertain an A-.  It is a well done character analysis of Clayton Cole.  However, as a tie-in issue, this does nothing to make me interested in what is going in the main series.  Plus, this carries the title of Amazing Spider-Man.  If I were picking up the main series and loving it enough to pick up tie-ins for titles I’m not currently buying, I would be angry with this issue as it regulates Spidey to even less of a character than how Slott writes him.  Plus this is the second issue in this series to build up to the story rather than give me a story.

C

Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?  Post your grade in the comments section.

What’s Next?

previewUlysses’ visions wreak havoc on Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man and Clash fight a swarm of robots and Clash slide into old habits!

 

 

`nuff said! 

(3) Comments

  1. Evan

    Geez, that "messy" panel showing Clayton with his friend made me cringe at first. It looks like his friend is holding the waist of Clayton's pants as Clayton himself is mutating into a werewolf. (Taken with the panel you show above this with Clayton's hands over his face, it reminded me of the Thriller video when Michael Jackson has his hands over his face and then goes, "GET AWAY!!!") I'm so glad I can now look forward to more onomatopoeia in the ongoing Onomatopoeia of the Issue feature! At least the Quintronic man went "blooop!" instead of "plop!" As always, wonderful review.

  2. Crime Master

    Spidey feeling superfluous in his own book is a thing that's happened way too much in recent times. It's almost like they've forgotten he's one of the greatest most popular heroes of all time and deserves to be written with just an ounce of respect.

  3. Ryan3178

    I have to admit, Gage put more use into Clayton's character and really added layers from Learning to Crawl here. He also comes across as a guy who could tip either way. He could be playing Mendall or he could suddenly tip because Ulysses's monkey paw powers make the situation happen instead. However, much like Dark Reign: Spider-Man which finally explained all of Mr. Negative's origins and powers, ect. I feel we are getting the same here. A nice story, but in the long run: "Why couldn't it have been part of the main book?" Answer: "Too much int he main book to fit it in. I remember that was the reason why Dark Reign: Spider-Man existed. It was still Slott's story, but no room in the main book with the million other subplots and stupidness to fit it in. So, the same is happening here.

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