“You’re breaking up. That’s a good sign.”
A Spider-Man issue without Spider-Man? And Mark is saying it’s better? Well boy howdy, let’s see if Slott can write a better Prowler than Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #17
“Dead No More, Pt. 2: Spark of Life”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: RB Silva
Inks: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colors: Marte Garcia
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
Our issue begins with a recap of ASM (2014) #2, as Francine Frye (First off, Alliteration. Second off, her name is Frye. As in she got fried by Electro. HAHAHAHA-kill me.) kisses Max while his powers are screwed up, and promptly gets killed. (Surprise, surprise.) She now wakes up to the AnubiJackal, Rhino and the Lizard, as he offers her a place in his ranks since she needs a magic pill to stay alive. (Magic= the science Neil doesn’t understand.) Being a chick who enjoys the company of super-villains, she readily accepts, but as AnubiJackal tells her, “We’re the good guys.” (And you’re calling yourself the good guys while using superhuman terrorists as your muscle. I was pleased with the service, but I’m going to have to take a point off of your Yelp review.)
Meanwhile in San Fran, Hobie Brown, aka the Prowler, is dressed up as Spider-Man to make people think that he’s on the West Coast. (Oh, you don’t need to worry about that, Peter. The Vulturions said it best: There’s like, forty of you running around now. What’s one more?) After doing some superheroics, he returns to his house, where he promptly gets to work on making a sandwich and kicking back for the night. (I don’t blame him. I work in the sun, and trust me, Miss Solus ain’t kind on the skin.) Peter, on the other hand, has different plans. He asks Hobie to check out New U and see if their procedure is safe before testing it on Jay. (Whoa, Peter’s using Common Sense™ too! Is Marvel going through another phase?)
Breaking into New U in his Prowler costume, Hobie detects thermal sensors and turns down his heat signature. (What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!) Prowler overhears the guards discussing catching Pokemon on the dedicated wifi of the building (Wait a sec. There are helixes on the outside and they’re playing Pokemon Go?… The Lord Helix has become corporeal! Hallelujah!), only to spy on AnubiJackal trying to give Max his powers back. The experiment fails, but instead the saliva in Francine’s cheek from kissing Max has given her his powers. (I’m gonna pretend that makes sense. Because it doesn’t and Slott probably won’t ever explain it. Moving on.) Prowler reveals himself just before Francine basically blows Max’s head up (Let’s ignore the fact that everybody just takes his head exploding with a light breeze. Jaded much?) and makes his getaway. Francine somehow gains full mastery of powers in a little over ten minutes and chases down Prowler, frying him when AnubiJackal said to contain. (“You’re fired!”)
Prowler finds himself alive again (Now, if only Slott could breathe new life into Spider-Man, that would be terrific) thanks to the miracles of cloning (And the crowd goes wild! Yay.) and agrees to join the Jackal’s cause, closing off our issue as Prowler learns of his magic medicine. (Hey, I said I didn’t understand it. I’m gonna ride the magic train as long as I can.)
Okay, I’m gonna be completely honest. I really enjoyed this issue. Not as much as Mark did, but I found the issue completely tolerable, not entirely cringe-inducing, and moving the plot along in an organic way. There’s a few speedbumps along the way, but nothing that really impeded my enjoyment of the issue as a whole.
The fact that Spider-Man didn’t even appear in this comic save for nine panels as Peter Parker says something.
First off, the art. Blunt talk, I absolutely drooled at this art. RB Silva needs to become the primary penciller for Amazing Spider-Man. He just breathes life into each of the characters that Camuncoli seems to struggle to do (His art brings to mind the Dull Surprise phrase when it comes to faces.) Silva manages to get this mix between photo realistic and cartoony that I could only dream of drawing, and his art actually syncs rather well with Marte Garcia’s shiny colors, and I can’t help but wish I could get this guy to become Slott’s go-to guy for pencils. The art team really hit it out of the park with this issue, and I can’t emphasize this enough.
Writing is a little less… perfect, but with Slott at the helm, it’s a bit of a surprise how well the guy can write given the past year or so of him falling over and grinding his face against the pavement.
I’m saying this not only because I want to prove that I don’t just hate on Slott for no reason, but because the man can write, especially when given material that plays to his strength that he wants to work with.
For example, I happen to love Big Time for some reason that I have yet to identify. While I don’t regard it as high art, it is still a fun read for me, if somewhat forgettable and Ramos’ art is a bit dated. It probably remains one of my favorite post-OMD stories, and Slott does deserve some props for that. While he’s nowhere in my top 5 Spider-Man artists, Slott can write a good story when he tries.
The mystery throughout the issue isn’t necessarily palpable until maybe the end of issue, which I think Slott intended when he wrote Spark of Life. Just enough that you’re hooked on that initial high, and then keeps teasing you with more. Of course, there are still questions unanswered by the end of the issue, but remember that this is the second issue of a larger arc. And, to Slott’s credit, enough questions have been resolved and replaced with new ones that I don’t feel cheated, nor do I think he cleaned up too cleanly halfway through his arc that he needs to create a new conflict.
That said, Slott’s unfortunately cringey dialogue remains, and this keeps irking me. Also doesn’t help that he is using a Jackal that sounds and feels absolutely nothing like the furry green monster that I came to despise (both as a character and editorially). I can’t really overlook this, since it’s obvious that Slott’s playing the Jackal the same way he played Regent: doing bad things to do good. Seen it, done it.
Also, I feel like a right fool for trying to reason that AnubiJackal had some power beyond just cloning people. Turns out it was just clones. What a shock? There’s a bit of inconsistency in the art from when Francine wakes up and when Hobie gets resurrected, so I wonder if that’s just an artistic error or if it’s plot relevant
Peter’s moral ambiguity surprised me a bit in this issue. Sending in somebody else instead of doing it himself seemed a little out of character for him. Another thing that irked me was the death of Prowler, because it’s effectively pointless because he’s literally resurrected a panel later. There’s no sense of danger or investment in characters because they can all just die on a whim per what Dan wants and clone them back with all of their memories. It would have been more intriguing to see Prowler be turned naturally instead of crispy, but it does segue into an intriguing plot on Hobie’s end because of his limitations from AnubiJackal’s pill.
Maybe we can just chalk it up to Slott wanting to portray Peter as being somewhat corrupted because of money and using Hobie, but it just doesn’t resonate with Peter, because it feels like he knows it’s a suicide mission for some reason and is sending in somebody to do his dirty work to save his hide. It’s a move that felt out of place in a Spider-Man comic. (then again, there’s been a ton of those recently.)
I’m, for once, intrigued to see where Francine goes as a character. Hopefully they don’t just keep her on one character trait and have her only indulge in her power, and have some drawbacks to her powers that give her dimension or something along those lines besides AnubiJackal’s pill. I’m just really worried that Slott has done a good job establishing a character we thought long gone and making them relevant again only to provide little to no development before. I’m also a little uninvested in her character, seeing as how she only appeared in one issue, and even then the character has shifted personalities a bit since her last appearance. I guess I should approach her with cautious optimism and see how she holds up in the future.
(Also, Slott brought back the old Electro costume? Really?)
I can’t really say I was disappointed with this issue, though I’ve got the feeling I’m going to be in a very distinct minority. Though it speaks volumes about how Spider-Man never even went into action, and Peter was barely featured, it was still a story that I was happy I read; a nice non sequitur. The art was fantastic (I need to ring this guy up) and Slott actually wrote a story that I felt somewhat invested in, though given that Hobie is now a clone, I’m gonna find it a little hard to be invested in him. I should point out that most of my problems with this comic lie in the stuff established here not being delved into and elaborated upon in the future, rather than being a problem with the comic itself. The quarantine is over for now, folks! Enjoy the comic for at least one issue.
Final Grade: B+
Brownie Points: Find all of the pop culture references in the plot recap and tell me them in the comments section and where they’re from. First one to find all of them (There are four) gets a no-prize (autographed by yours truly.) I masked them a bit better than Slott if that makes my review a bit more “relevant”.
Side Note: Has anybody else noticed that none of the other Marvel properties have mentioned Webware so far? This begins my new theory that the current volume of ASM takes place in a parallel reality.