“Do it. Let’s give Mr. Parker a taste of how the magic works.”
…Do I have to?
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #16
“Dead No More, Pt 1: Whatever the Cost”
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Marte Garcia
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
A) In Mount Sinai Hospital, we catch up with Peter and the Jamesons. Turns out that Jameson Sr. has known about this for a while, and Jonah blames Peter for his father being sent to the Third World. Turns out the disease is genetic (Wait, isn’t this the exact same as Harry’s subplot in Amazing Spider-Man 2?) and that the only good thing about this is that Jonah and John Jameson can be screened for early detection. (This is why I’m majoring in Media Studies; them new-fangled biologists and their shiny hereditary diseases be getting in my cataracts!) Plot convenience gets even more convenient when Doctor Clarkson from New U Technologies. (Geez, if you guys are gonna pull a DC and relaunch every 3 years, the least you could do is be subtle about it.) Clarkson offers a more… radical approach that she says, like every cure, has its cost. (Ooh, nice foreshadowing, Slott! Look at the scale, you’re surpassing Tommy Wiseau in your ability to subtly hint at things!)
On his way to San Francisco for a board meeting, Peter and Anna Maria are discussing the potential New U’s breakthroughs have for them to make it publicly accessible. (Uh, wouldn’t this procedure be under their IP? And how are neither of them suspicious of how quickly New U just shot so quickly into relevance?) When they hear of an explosion at a Parker Industries chemical plant, Peter has the plane turn around and he gears up, using the Spider-Cycle to get there faster. (Ultimate Spider-Man… triggered.) He saves all of the employees, but one of them, Jerry, is on the brink of death. (This is a comic… about nothing!) Peter desperately calls Clarkson to authorize the treatment, and though Jerry is alive, Peter’s Spider-Sense goes off when he’s near his employee.
AB) The Jackal, the Connors and Electro are in Jackal’s lab, where Martha is now a doctor for some reason. To sweeten the deal for Electro, he reveals that he has brought back Francine (For those of you who don’t like remembering Slott’s earlier work, she’s the one Max fried in ASM (2014) #2, when Max’s powers were out of control.) Max hastily agrees.
AC) Jonah, still salty after he learned that he might have whatever disease Mark pulled up from WebMD, goes to Dr. Clarkson to pay for his father’s treatment on his own dime. Clarkson even decides to throw a little more into the pot, and offers up Jameson’s wife, Marla! (What a twist!)
I really have been putting off going to the Local Comic Shop™ in order to get this issue, considering my city has been experiencing heavy rain showers and, my main reason, I have absolutely no trust in Slott writing an event given such notable classics as Goblin Nation and Spider-Verse. Eventually, I realized that I should eventually read the comic.
And… it was okay.
I’m not saying I expect anything on the tier of, say, JMS from Slott, but this one just… bored me. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m getting bored of parroting the same problems with the book because Dan Slott refuses to accept criticism and for some reason can’t stay off of Twitter.
Anyways, the issue does have some rather decent points in it. The first is the art. For once it seems like Camuncoli decided to get his head out of the sand and draw a decent piece of art. And I think I discovered the central problem with Camuncoli’s art: Marte Garcia. I have this sinking feeling that Garcia was hired because he can color something and make it look shiny. If you look at Spider-Man and his (barf) Spider-Cycle, then they have a very chrome feel to them, and because they weren’t really paying attention when working on Power Play, Garcia decided to make every character’s face shinier than Robert Picardo’s head. Granted, some of the blame can shift away here because, while Garcia has improved, some panels of the comic are… less than exemplary of Camuncoli’s previous works.
I was also pleased that we have a cast shifting over from previous arcs… sort of. We see Aunt May, Jay, and Jonah transitioning over, but only Jonah and Peter really do anything of importance. Aunt May just shoos Peter away and Jonah gets to see Marla again. And reinforcing the issue, they’re using characters that really only had any signficance on the last two pages or so. I’m just so tired of seeing Slott spin the magic Plot Convenience wheel to see which supporting cast members get to have some form of relevance that week.
I was also pleased to see Peter act like an actual human being in this issue rather than some robot that could also just be the same one that masqueraded as his parents. We see him give some invest in the safety of his lower level employees, rather than just focus on that one terrorist girlfriend I think he had a while ago. (What was her name? Lian? Lien? Eh, doesn’t matter.) Seeing him act impulsively to save his employee’s life does feel human to me, and I did appreciate that.
(One thing to note: Peter’s Spider-Sense is inconsistent this volume. It can’t detect Doc Ock in the Living Brain or his terrorist girlfriend, but it detects some guy’s organs. Good work there, Slott. And good catch Chase the Blues Away)
And finally, we transition into rant mode, because of all the negatives being one, crippling masterpiece of stupid. The Jackal.
First off, he’s not some crazy luncatic with clones. Now he’s just some kind of guy with an anubis mask. I dunno, while the design is cool, it just doesn’t scream “Let’s make some clones and screw with Parker!”
I find myself pondering how exactly the Jackal’s powers work. Part of me is curious as to how they work, the other is pondering how frustrated I can get trying to figure it out.
We noticed Marla’s resurrection in the issue, and for some reason she’s wearing the exact same bathrobe from her death in Revenge of the Spider-Slayers. And Anubis Jackal says that he’s “Conquered life and death”. (Jackal’s always had a thing for making simple procedures sound grandiose and complex as far I can remember. Zach, brush me up on the Clone Saga!) So, does this mean that Jackal is going back in time and grabbing people from before they died? And does this mean that Jackal is harvesting organs from those timelines, and preserving the lives of those he wants to manipulate? Because this could explain where Ock’s body went in Superior #21, and Jackal stole it for Living Ock to steal back.
And before I provide a counter argument, this theory is eerily similar to the plot twist of Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #55. The whole “bringing people back to the present from the past” schtick. And while I understand that comics are developed months ahead of their release date, it just feels wrong to ignore how uncanny the resemblance is between one of the few theories that could logically explain Jackal’s retrieval of humans and organs and a comic that was released barely a month prior. I’m not trying to accuse Slott of plagiarism, but there is some resemblance that I can’t push aside.
On the other hand, there’s a lot of inconsistencies with this theory. The first is, why didn’t they all disappear like Ock’s corpse and be recognized by the public? Why would Jackal use a corpse instead of a temporally displaced but amnesiac past version/ alternate universe version? How is Francine’s body completely intact after being fried by Electro, and how are all of her tattoos and piercings gone? Does Jackal have some kind of dermal regenerator he stole from an alternate Star Trek future?
This is probably one of the biggest inconsistencies I’ve seen in Slott’s writing. We have zero explanation of Jackal’s powers, and Slott just gives him the sort of power he needs for a dramatic reveal of a deceased character. (Which is also a big gripe, when we consider that this is the FIFTH “Epic reveal” involving dead characters in about 16 issues worth of material with no explanation in an attempt to be enigmatic and mysterious.)
There’s also the massive issue of Slott trying to keep Jackal and his buddies in the realm of a subplot-like center, but also trying to bridge them into the main plot. It’s stuck in some kind of limbo between main and subplot that really irritates me for no real reason.
When I look back on this issue, I don’t really hate it. Slott’s obviously playing the long game again, and given his track record for lackluster endings, it’s gonna be interesting seeing how he plays his deck. Then again, there are other writers who play the long game, so I’m not sure if Slott will drop the ball again, but this was decent setup. Harmless and forgettable.
Final Grade: C+