Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #16 – Before Dead No More part 1 – Whatever the Cost!

ASM16coverLast issue, Spidey learned the error of his childish ways. There would be no more silly fights with heroes or chasing after a girl out of his league like Mary Jane.  Will he be able to hold to this development?  Will Aunt May kick her drug habit?  Read on!


The Devil in the Details

Writer: Dan Slott

Penciler: Guiseppe Camuncoli

Inker: Cam Smith

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: August 10, 2016

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

Jonah Sr. is in the hospital after last issue’s coughing attack.  The doctor decides to let them know of a new “cutting edge” treatment by New U Technologies.  Jonah Jr. storms out, refusing to allow his dad to be a test subject.  Peter gets more information.  Aunt May makes him be responsible and go tend to his business.  The Jackal man is attempting to bring back Max Dillon’s powers.  They bring back Janice for him.  Dr. Clarkson from New U is with Jackal boy. A PI chemical plant in Oklahoma explodes and Spidey shows up to save the day on his Spider-Cycle.  One of the men is going to die despite his best efforts to save him.  Peter decides to use the New U doctors to save the man and is surprised when the healed man sets off his spider-sense. Jonah decides to use every penny he has to get this new treatment for his dad.  The sweeten the deal, New U Technologies reveals that they have brought back Marla from the dead.  To be continued!

Onomatopoeia of the Issue (OOTI)

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 7

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 7



We have a more subtle pop culture allusion this issue.  This is Dr. Clarkson.  Which pop culture show does Slott borrow her name from:

a. Dr. Who
b. Sherlock
c. Torchwood
d. Penny Dreadful
e. Downton Abbey



What Passed:

While we don’t have the traditional super hero vs bad guy fight and this is the set up issue for the new arc, this story seems packed and well paced.  I feel like I’m getting actual story instead of just lead up.

We get a view of non-New Yorkers and their reaction to Spider-Man saving them:


I still don’t really enjoy Camuncoli’s faces, they aren’t a distraction for me this issue.  Plus we get two really neat panels.  On is the long thin panel with the Spider-Cycle going down the building.  The next is the explosion of the chemical plant.  The blurred image reminds me of a real camera that got shaken by the shock of the blast.

One Word – Spider-Cycle 🙂

What Failed:

Not much, actually.  We still have many of the same issues that have plagued this series since the  rebooted vol. 4, but not all of them.  This actually feels more like a Spider-Man story.  He doesn’t call in S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers.  He goes over the science of New U Technologies himself rather than have Tony give it a once over.  He doesn’t need Miles Morales to come in a venom shock bad guys for him.  Best of all, he doesn’t web swing from his jet this issue!

If I were to get nit-picky, I’d have to point out how money seems to be no object for Peter when it comes to his personal use to help Jonah Sr.  Sure he is the CEO of a company, but hasn’t he prided himself on personally getting no money from this gig other than middle management?  Doesn’t he still have to buy his clothes from JC Pennies instead of having them tailor made?   But that can be easily explained by the panel that shows him thinking of incorporating New U Technologies into Parker Industries to make it affordable to all people.

One Word – Spider-Cycle 🙁

Analysis –

For the first time in quite a while, I am intrigued about how this is going to play out.  Let’s look at some of the information revealed in this set up.

Jonah Sr.’s malady is better revealed:


So, let’s go back to my pitiful obsession with figuring this out.  I had pulled up on WebMD al the things that could lead to coughing up blood.  Now, with this new information, we can fine tune the Crawlspace odds (for the last time, thankfully!):

  • Bronchitis – not hereditary, not dramatic (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Bronchiectasis – not hereditary, not drastically life threatening (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Lung cancer – not hereditary (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Use of blood thinners – not hereditary (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Pneumonia – not hereditary (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Pulmonary embolism – not rare (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Congestive heart failure – not rare (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Tuberculosis – not hereditary, not rare (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Dieulafoy’s disease – it’s rare and it’s hard to find information on it.  Doesn’t seem to be hereditary, but it I can’t find information on it not being hereditary. (Crawlspace odds – 5%)
  • Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions and pulmonary arteriovenous malformations – still not really sure what this means (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Trauma, such as a gunshot wound or motor vehicle accident – not hereditary (Crawlspace odds – 0%)
  • Crack cocaine – Dang!  No match! (Crawlspace odds – 0%)

the_man_wolf___john_jameson_by_big_ogre-d2zk7j7So it appears we have some disease so rare that even WebMD doesn’t have info on it. Better bet, it is some strange comic book world disease and all my efforts to figure it out are for nothing.  Oh well.  This does add some interesting future plot developments for JJJ Jr and John Jameson (as if John need ANOTHER physical problem – I’m sensing the return of the Man Wolf).

Wait, I know what you are thinking (because I thought it too) – what about Aunt May coughing up blood too?  Well, there are two explanations for it.  Aunt May and Jonah Jameson Sr. are actually brother and sister!  They were separated as children to keep their nefarious biological father from finding them and were never told the truth! Ewww.  Or, more likely, we misread the original panels and the old bat isn’t sick at all.  Let’s go back to ASM #14 and see what really happened:


Well played Camuncoli!  The word panels and word balloons are placed just so that it is impossible to really figure out who was coughing.  So it was Sr. coughing and Aunt May just discovered the bloody handkerchief being hid from her, not her hiding it from him.

This throws everything a bit in a tailspin.  Up to this point, it seemed, at least to me, that the plot was going to be an obvious, “Oh no!  I’ve got to do anything to save Aunt May!”  But now we know she’s fine and in no danger of contracting whatever it is from him.   Also, it seems that the Jackal faced man may even have no real desire to bring in Peter Parker on this deal.  When Peter asks Dr. Clarkson to apply her technique to the dying employee, Jackal guy reveals that this was not part of the plan, but decides to allow Mr. Parker a chance to “see the magic”.  To me, this implies that whoever is wearing the mask doesn’t know Peter Parker as anybody other than the CEO of Parker Industries, someone who has no real part in his plan.  Whatever that plan is.  The plan includes the use of several villains and TV exposure (the need for Jonah Jameson Jr.).

So, I want to explore what the Jackal is doing.  My theory, this is not Miles Warren (or at least not our Miles Warren) and he is not using clone technology.

Consider this panel:


The Jackal has to clarify that he meant Dr. Curt Connors.  But since when has Martha Connors ever been a doctor?  My five minute Google research only revealed that the Mrs. Connors from the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon was a doctor.  So, is this a mistake, or do we have a Martha from a alternate universe?

Consider the name of the company that is implementing the Jackal’s technology.  New U Technology.  What would the U stand for?  Every other time in comics the U stands for “universe”.  In fact, when she first said it, I flashed back to the failed New Universe line from Marvel back in the ‘80s.  Does this mean that he is taking people from other universes instead of really bringing them back from the dead?

Why would we get this panel:


clueIf all they did was clone organs for Jerry, then Peter’s spider-sense shouldn’t be going off. Did they bring back an evil version?  Is this connected to Amazing Grace and we have a body inhabited by evil forces (I hope not)?  If New U is evil, why didn’t Pete’s spider-sense go off around Dr. Clarkson?  Is it just inconsistencies in the way the spider-sense works or are there clues here?  Finding clues was much easier when we had blue paw prints to look for.

O.K., there are some flaws in my thinking.  For one, both Peter and all of Jameson’s “egg heads” reviewed the filter cloning research and it seems to be legitimate science instead of multi-dimensional kidnapping.
The people seem to have memories of their death.  Max Dillon’s girlfriend thanks him for killing her (sarcastically of course).

Electro calls the Jackal Warren at one point and Miles at another.  My theory could still work if this is an alternate universe Warren.  Or Max could just be misleading us.  Whatever the case, how does Max know who Miles Warren is?  Did he reveal himself to Electro?  Do people in the 616 universe know who Miles Warren is?  I didn’t think so, but what do I know?

Extra Credit:

In the letters pages, Nick Lowe reveals a few things.  One is that MJ will not be appearing for quite a while in ASM, but will continue to star in IIM (which leads one to believe that she may continue to be a side character for the new Iron Girl/Woman/???.  But that is not the extra credit.  He also reveals that he just came out of a TOP SECRET meeting and the last time he was in a TOP SECRET meeting was when they discussed the last video game.  He said this was not for the video game.  He also mentioned that it was nice to have pictures of the new movie popping up online, which I felt it was mentioned as something in addition to the TOP SECRET meeting.  So, if the TOP SECRET meeting was not about a video game and it was not about the movie and Lowe is excited about it, what could this TOP SECRET meeting be about?  Any guesses?

Final Grade:

The comic flowed well and intrigued me.  For the first time I have a care or two to give about this Dead No More / Clone Saga Conspiracy.  Will I be disappointed as this story plays out?  Maybe.  But you know me, ever the eternal optimist.  I’m holding out hope that it only gets better from here.


Your Turn:

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


What’s Next?

Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_4_17_TextlessBEFORE “DEAD NO MORE”!

  • The Prowler (and our readers) meet the new Electro!
  • Who is this woman and what does she have to do with the Man in Red?!


‘Nuff Said!



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(21) Comments

  1. Jason

    I would have liked to know what disease Jay actually has. I disagree with your thoughts about who was really coughing in issue 14. It's still inconclusive. I think they're both sick and May is hiding it. Would you really have your spouse throw away your bloody tissue? That's a little gross. Overall, I liked the issue, even though I don't care for Spidey driving around in vehicles. I'm surprised Slott was behind this.

  2. Stephen

    Have to say, seeing Dr Connors/The Lizard in a Suit and Lab Coat that (a) fit, and (b) aren't damaged is a refreshing sight to see, but that's close to all the interesting detail for me. The other being something I noticed only very recently - two hours ago as of typing this to be precise - the ones supposedly brought back to life, Martha, Billy, and all the others. They all seem to have the same bland expressionless expression on them. Makes me wonder if that's gonna factor in somehow - though I'm not holding out hope for that, less risk of disappointment that way. Overall my Grade would be a C for this issue.

  3. hornacek

    @mark - This website/podcast are where I get my only Spider-Joy nowadays from new content (well, also the newspaper strip). The mehness of the books won't keep me away. Even when I quit the book after ASM #700 (I had zero interest in the idea of Superior) I kept reading/listening to all the reviews, just to keep up to date. That's when I started donating $3.99 a month to the site - I figured since I wasn't buying the book every month I might as well give it to the site that was keeping me informed and entertained about Spidey.

  4. Jack

    This Miles warren doesn't seem old or bonkers. I'm going to guess an alt-u Jackal due to something from Spider-Verse. He transports alt-u versions of people -- or their organs! -- over to 616.

  5. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Mohammed - while he is getting praise, he wanted me to point out again his finest creation - Carnage Swarm - where A Nazi skeleton covered in bees and the Carnage symbiote and each bee has his own Carnage face. @ hornacek - glad you aren't letting your mehness on the books get in the way of the front page reviews! Keep reading! @ webhead - The U meaning You - You're probably right. Now I feel a bit silly for jumping to the other universe, but I'm going to stick with it now. If I'm right I'll look prophetic. If I'm wrong, people will probably forget about it soon enough. I'm still sticking with my theory from the onset that when this is over, we'll have both an old man Doc Ock and a Superior Spider-Man Spock. The clone thing just makes this more possible. @ Chase the Blues Away - yeah, the spider sense has always been a bit flaky and more of a plot convenience than anything else. @ herbiepopnecker - Whalloping Web Snappers! I'll change that right away! Oh the embarrassment...

  6. Chase the Blues Away

    I don't know why Slott thinks we should pay attention to Peter's spider sense. It can't tell Doc Ock is in the Living Brain, it couldn't tell Peter's biggest investor (and his Secret Santa recipient) was Scorpio, it couldn't tell Peter's girlfriend was a terrorist's obviously not very reliable.

  7. Webhead

    The alternate universe theory HAS merit, but it would be a total cop-out. Either way, clearly he's brainwashing these people to keep them in line, so maybe the not-dead employee became a danger Peter sensed. Me I thought the "U" in New U just stood for... "you".

  8. hornacek

    @Mark What are you talking about? Fringe was *always* great! (ok, the no-Peter timeline was a bit annoying, but I liked the evil Observers) Its theme song is great, especially when they switch up the credits for their episodes set in the past (like the 1985 one where child-Peter is taken) and redo the theme with synthesizers. I actually got the alternate universe vibe from your review, I haven't read this issue yet. Like the panel said on a recent podcast, my zest to read new ASM issues after I buy them has plummeted so that I usually don't read them until there is a podcast episode where they are discussed - the last issue I've read was part 2 of "Peter hates Tony Stark". There was a time where I wouldn't even click on these front page reviews before I read the issue because I was afraid of getting spoiled. Now ... I just don't care. That's a sad state of my Spider-Man fandom.

  9. Mark Alford - Post author

    Oddly enough, I showed my son the panels from ASM #14 with the coughing up blood to see if his first thought was that Aunt May was the one coughing or if I had just completely misread it. He thought it was domestic abuse. I said, "What?" He explained that he thought that dark line on her cheek was where she had been hit and the blood on the handkerchief was coming from it. He figured Jay was beating her because she wasn't ready yet! When I showed his other drawings to show that was how Camuncoli draws cheekbones, he just said, "Oh. Well that's just bad art." Maybe I should just let him write the reviews from now on! Go back up and look at those panels and look at her face and dang if the domestic abuse theory doesn't look like it makes sense!

  10. Mohammed

    @Mark Alford Sorry for the confusion Mark, yes the TOP SECRET is not in relation to RYV, just that he mentioned have a TOP SECRET meeting about something possibly related to the main book.

  11. Frontier

    @Chase the Blues Away - And ontop of that, they're apparently throwing a Mattie Franklin clone on him too judging by the upcoming Silk covers.

  12. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Mohammed - I checked all through that letter and I find no TOP SECRET reveal in it. I don't think the Renew Your Vows line is the TOP SECRET he had his TOP SECRET meeting about. And yes, I like writing TOP SECRET in all caps as much as possible. @ hornacek - Fringe was great! and then it wasn't. But I'd still be up for a rewatch of it. The theme song was great (I was going to say out of this world, but that's a bit cheesy - even for me). Did you get that alternate universe vibe from reading the comic, or was it just me? @ Evan - I knew you'd have my back on the crack thing! About Shakespeare and clones, the closest I can think of right now is, "We know what we are, but not what we may be." Sure conventional wisdom thinks this is about the future, but what if instead Hamlet is really wondering if he might be a clone? I think I'll teach it that way from now on. Thanks for the kind words! @ Chase the Blues Away - don't hold back on me. How did you like the issue? :) @ Hobo-Goblin - I don't think that the man in red was ever officially called anything until this issue. We did have the appearance of Gwen Stacy in the Free Comic Book day issue and in the promos, but we haven't seen her since. You're right in that the reveal seems a bit sudden. I meant to put this in my review, but when I saw the first reveal to be just the name Warren, I thought maybe this was a hint that it was a different Warren (I think Miles has a high school teaching brother), but then he said the names Miles. The lack luster way he reveals it may be a hint in itself that it is not the true reveal, but that Gwen Stacy thing is going to be hard to overlook.

  13. Hobo-Goblin

    Was the man in red ever specifically called the Jackal in a comic before this? I know the press "outed" him as the Jackal, but I feel like there's an amazing lack of fanfare to his "reveal" as the Jackal in the actual comic. Typical Slott.

  14. Chase the Blues Away

    F+. This was slightly better than Peter falling from the satellite to a pinpoint landing in Paris, but just slightly. The Spider-Cycle - so, what, Peter travels with it on his private jets?! And Peter Parker lands in the Midwest only for Spider-Man to show up, and no one can still put two and two together and come up with Peter = Spider-Man?! Oh, and yeah, Peter is SOOOOO down to earth, he travels on a private plane - one that apparently has clearance from the FAA to deviate flight plans at a moment's notice and carries enough fuel to backtrack half its journey. Speaking of, I wonder if Slott is aware even with a private jet, it still takes three hours to fly between the West Coast and Oklahoma. Yet Peter apparently makes it in thirty minutes, judging by the sky at the time of the explosion and the time Spider-Man arrives. Varys only wishes he has Peter Parker's instantaneous travel abilities. Slott, once more, has only the haziest grasp of anything resembling subtlety, subtext or nuance. Peter reads the New U reports and immediately jumps to I WILL SAVE THE ENTIRE WORLD!!11!!!!!11! This is like when Christos Gage had Peter immediately jump to using Ulysses for his own profit and gain. Peter reads a report FROM THE COMPANY ITSELF - no, no chance of it being biased or faked, of course - and jumps to an outsized conclusion like an ten year old. I guess I can agree with Mark that at least Peter read it himself and didn't rely on, say, Miles to read it for him - but still, you'd think he want to demand more evidence and run clinical trials, especially because he's in the Marvel U. Slott is writing Peter as dangerously obsessed with stopping death. First there was the "No One Will Die" mantra, and now this. But here's the thing. Peter knows people die. Peter has never, ever, EVER expressed the wish to play God - until Slott came along. Peter is a scientist, after all, he knows death is part of the natural cycle. As Spider-Man, Peter feels a deep responsibility to use his powers to help others, but Slott has extended this to Peter trying to defy death and upset the natural order. And he's obsessed with it, as I said above, like a ten year old kid would be obsessed with a toy - never stopping to question or analyze. In fact, it's kinda feeling like a supervillain obsession... Yeah, I know, I know, it's comics. But comics can still ask these questions. Comics can still have deeper themes. Compare this to, say, Kraven's Last Hunt - or any Spider-Man issue written by J.M. DeMatteis. Compare this to the recent Spiral miniseries by Gerry Conway, which had Peter specifically questions Yuri's similar obsession. But back to Slott's slop: why bring back Marla when Jonah is already hooked?! It's one thing to cure a sick man to prove your technology to the man's family. It's quite another to bring back the dead. They went from exciting new medical technology breakthrough to creepy paranormal #%!& when it wasn't necessary, and did it in front of a media mogul who still has a voice in the press. It seems....stupid....but then maybe the Jackal's plan relies on him being stupid and outing himself, who knows? We're talking Slott, after all, where plot logic is an oxymoron.

  15. Mohammed

    Couple things that should also be mentioned that are from the Letters page of the issue. 1- He mentions in an answer that he had a TOP SECRET meeting regarding the book. 2- this -

  16. Evan

    Don't worry, Mark -- You may still be right. I still have hopes that in Comic Book World crack cocaine is genetic. Does Shakespeare have anything to say about clones? Maybe Brutus was a clone. That would explain it. As always, wonderful review!

  17. hornacek

    "Does this mean that he is taking people from other universes instead of really bringing them back from the dead?" I'm currently in the middle of a Fringe rewatch, so I would actually love it if the Jackal-man was a rip off of Walter Bishop (or Walternate even).

  18. Mohammed

    I think your on your own which this one, again because as I said, even though it look promising according the preview, it's the only part the was decent. The rest, nothing to write home about. it actually made me feel nauseous I already feel nauseous enough as it is. But I'll be generous and give it a D-, with the emphasis that it VERY close to getting an F.

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