Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #19 – Change of Heart

asm-19-coverWe had a nice Prowler story (with the possible exception of Prowler maybe dying).  Next we got a wonderful Spock story.  Both of these proved Slott can write great Spider-Man stories as long as Peter Parker is not actually in it.  So what can we expect from this issue which IS a Parker story?  Same quality or not so much?  Read on my friends!


The Devil in the Details

Writer: Dan Slott

Penciler: Guiseppe Camuncoli

Inker: Cam Smith

Colorist: Jason Keith (new!)

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: October 5, 2016


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

Main Story

JJJ Jr is interviewing the doctor from New U on the Fact Channel (does his show have a name?) and giving them some hard earned praise when a caller asks him about his father and if he would use the procedure on him.  Turns out it is just the Jackal trolling him on air.  We do get the set up for what this issue is all about – the decision to go with traditional treatment for JJJ Sr. or to go with New U.  The Jackal, meanwhile, sits on a throne surrounded by Miles Warren clones (he calls dupes) while a Gwen Stacy clone chides him for being so hard on poor JJJ Jr.


Meanwhile, Aunt May and JJJ Sr. are in the hospital and Sr. is trying to put up a good appearance but it is obvious that he feels like crap (or maybe it’s just the art makes him look like crap).  Peter is late getting to the hospital because he stopped to help a guy keep from getting robbed, but no good deed goes unpunished, and everyone hates him for it.  Once he arrives, Parker and Jr. got at it over the best course of treatment for Sr.  Jr. wants New U to come in, but Peter doesn’t because of his spider-sense going off in Oklahoma a few issues ago.  Peter runs into additional problems because he cannot tell why he doesn’t want New U to come in.  Sr. listens to Peter, which just makes Jr. even more angry.

Sr. about croaks and gives everyone a scare.  He asks to see Peter alone and tells him he wants Peter to get a family heirloom (a clock) from his safe so that he can pass it on to Jr.  Peter promises to do it right away.  He gets the clock, but due to the magic of juxtaposition*, we know that Peter is going to break the clock.  Sure enough, on his way home, Spidey does a super heroic thing that results in the clock falling.

Peter changes his mind and wants them to call in New U after all, but it is too late and when he gets there, May and Jr. are in tears, supposedly because Sr. kicked the bucket, but it may be because they were watching a sad movie while Sr. slept.  Regardless, death or Old Yeller, Peter opens the box and the clock is broken.

Story #2

Going back to FCBD, we see the whole story between the Kingpin and the Jackal.  The Kingpin rejects the idea that a cloned or reanimated version of Vanessa is Vanessa and snaps her neck and vows to kill the Jackal for making him do that.


What Passed:

The story was a good Peter Parker story.  Let me let that sink in a bit.


We finally get a Peter Parker that I recognize.  He is all pop culturey.  He isn’t the butt of the jokes.  He is heroic and he finds himself in an impossible situation where once again Spider-Man comes in between him and his family.  If we had been getting this Peter Parker all along, nobody would have cared that he was rich or globe-trotting or working with S.H.I.E.L.D.

I love it when Spider-Man is jumping around so much that there are multiple Spideys on the page.


The Parker Luck is back.  He gets that three ways in this issue.  The first is a happy go lucky sort of way.  On his way to the hospital, he swings down to web up two thieves running off with a store owner’s money.  Turns out that only one of them was a thief.  The other one was the store owner’s son who was trying to stop him from getting away, but now he has to stay on the sidewalk covered in webbing until it dissolves.  Now I find it a little difficult to believe that with all of his extraneous cartridges that he hasn’t thought of a formula to dissolve the webbing faster.  Heck, even Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has that.  Plus, they could just cut him off the sidewalk.  However, the overkill of webbing dissolve time and all this nit picking doesn’t take away from it being a funny side bit.

The second is a bit more serious and drives the entire issue.  Peter’s dilemma in going with New U which is a sure way to keep JJJ Sr. alive, but possibly evil like Pet Cemetery or go with the won’t alter his soul conventional medicine, but that course has a low chance of survival.  To add to it, he can’t tell his Aunt or JJJ Jr why he is against it.


The last deals with a heroic and heart breaking scene.  Spidey does some really big saving of the guy on the crane.  The guys on the ground saying, “Super guy or not, how long can Spidey hold out?” really serve to underscore the feat that Spidey is accomplishing here.


This is just an awesome scene and even though Peter breaking the clock was telegraph in advance, it just served to build the suspense of waiting for it to happen. Peter hanging there with his arms stretched out shows him as a Christ-figure archetype and instead of sacrificing his life, he is sacrificing the clock.  I liked that it was something so simple as the webbing dissolving.  It was an added bonus to get this scene of Spider-Man being ripped off the side of the building and seeing the glass still stuck to his feet.


In the second story, the Kingpin’s reaction and dealing with the situation of his wife is done so well that even Camuncoli’s art can’t detract from it.


While that SNAP almost got the Onomatopoeia of the Issue, it came in second to the sound of the Kingpin being hit by the Rhino:

ootiOn a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), PKARUNCHH rates a 9.  You know what that means, you must yell out your best pronunciation right now wherever you may be.

What Failed:

This is the second time the webbing was used with force.


I do not remember webbing being able to knock people over before.  Last issue he was able to use the webbing to press buttons on the Brain.  It’s not a big thing, but it bothers me.

The art!  Poor all female characters in this issue, but most of all, poor Aunt May!  Those check bones!

Then we got this picture:


Granted, she is supposed to look distressed, but this image will haunt my nightmares for days to come.  Then I thought and thought about where I had seen that picture before.  Finally it dawned on me!




So now we are set up for Clone Conspiracy.  Am I intrigued, not really.  The Jackal scenes were the least interesting to me.  Despite that, the Jackal does pose some very interesting ideas.  Who is he?  People call him Miles and Warren and Jackal, but the fact that Marvel still refers to him as the mysterious man and the fact that the Jackal mask does not look like the old one, makes it seem that perhaps this is something more than just Miles.  On top of that, this Jackal is unshaven and young looking.  On the other hand, he does have a Gwen Stacy hanging around and there are several Miles Warren clones walking around that he calls dupes, presumably short of duplicates. Yet, he has the “dupes” doing menial tasks, suggesting a disdain for them? Check below for a more thorough examination of the myriad of possibilities this character could be.

How does this science work?  Is it cloning? Is it genetic manipulation?

During the interview with JJJ, Dr. Rita Clarkson explains it as regrowing organs but scanned to remove all imperfections.  When the Jackal is talking to the Kingpin, he claims it is NOT cloning, but rather reanimation, a la Dr. Frankenstein.  Would that be acceptable to the Prowler fans out there or is it just a rose by another name?

Extra Credit:

Who is this Man in Red?  Here are the likely suspects:

The real Miles Warren – well, people are calling him Miles and Warren and he calls the Miles Warren clones dupes, so if we take Slott at face value it should be him.  However, if it is, then why haven’t we seen him without his mask?  And why does Marvel marketing still refer to him as the mysterious man in red?  Crawlspace odds – 25%

Younger Clone/Reanimate version of Miles Warren – would explain why we aren’t seeing glasses under the mask (we did once, but we haven’t since) and maybe why he isn’t crazy anymore – Crawlspace odds – 50%

Jackal of Arachnia – this is the Spider-Gwen Secret Wars dimension.  She spots him digging up a grave and he claims to be the best geneticist of his time.  Hmmm….. an obsession with death and genetics?  Maybe a bit too obscure of a character for such a major role, though.  Crawlspace odds – 40%

Miles Warren clone in Peter’s body – The man in red does look younger and he is trying to be good, maybe a result of some of Parker’s responsibility tainting his villain side (it’s been done by Slott before, so maybe that increases the odds).  Plus, both are stubble faced and that cannot be a coincidence, could it? Crawlspace odds – 50%

Miles Warren Jennix Version – During Spider-Verse, we see another Miles Warren that is being used on the Cylons Inheritors earth to clone them when they die – complete with all their memories, just like we are seeing here.  Added bonus, this is a Slott creation, so bonus points for this being the one.  Crawlspace odds – 45%

Miles Warren Jr. – the love child between Miles Warren and Gwen’s clone (no sense in original Gwen hogging all the action).  Gross, but fulfills his being called Miles and Warren while also not behaving like the original.  Why would he have Gwen Stacy clones hanging around?  Maybe it’s mommy or he just has Oedipal issues.  Crawlspace odds – 35%

Ben Reilly – Sure he is dead, but this is comics and – dead no more, duh!  Marvel often teases with bringing him back and some think they may actually do it by making him a villain.  Crawlspace odds – 25%

Spidercide – The clone of Ben Reilly that can control his own molecules like a symbiote.  Yeah he’s dead, but comics.  He was used once before to be a red herring** so maybe again?  Crawlspace odds – 5%

Kaine – The last we saw of Kaine he was beginning to crawl out of the Other during Spider-Verse.  He does seem intent on keeping Peter out of the picture.  Maybe after crawling out, he decided to learn the ways of science.  Crawlspace odds – 5%

Mephisto – the original man in red.  He was an early contender, but seems to be dropping off. However, Slott plays the long game, so clues that were relevant ten issues ago may still be viable.  Crawlspace odds – 20%

Other – Slott is also known for, as JR puts it, not being fair with his mysteries.  This could be a new character, Norman Osborne, Nathan Lubisky back from the grave.  Heck, this could easily be Willie Lumpkin going all kinds of postaland kudos to you if you remember that chap.  My bet is Lonesome Pincus.  Crawlspace odds – 50%.

Complete the online poll on the message boards to determine the identity of the man in red and feel free to post a comment to explain your prediction.


Final Grade:


My highest grade yet.  Peter Parker gets the treatment that Prowler, Kingpin, and Spock have gotten lately.  Will it last?  I’m not thinking about it too much.  I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?


Test Prep

O.K., the reading order gets a bit dicey here as Slott decides to move the main story out of the main title.  You may have seen Marvel scrambling to make sure people know to order the new mag title.  Here’s your reading list.  Study up!


What’s Next?



  • Death is no more, and DOCTOR OCTOPUS HAS RETURNED!!!
  • How is he back? And what does he have to do with The Jackal?


In order to help out any high school readers out there, drop these words in class and look smart in front of your teachers:

* juxtaposition – placing two scenes side-by-side to show that they are somehow related
** red herring – a false clue

‘Nuff Said! 

(15) Comments

  1. Evan

    @Mark - I didn't realize you lived in NC -- I'm glad you and your family are safe, though I hope your daughter isn't upset about her turtle sandbox. It's my first day back at work (I work at a college academic library, hence my appreciation for your literary allusions) and things are finally back to normal. I hope that waters continue to recede where you are. Sorry for the not-Spidey-related comment. Just wanted to send my empathy regarding the storm (though your mention of your daughter's sandbox made me think of the Flint Marko transformation scene in Spider-Man 3.)

  2. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Garrett - If you are right and Ben turns out to be a bad guy, I think we might have a minor riot on our hands! However, I don't think your theory is all that far-fetched and is quite possible. Maybe even more probable than the 25% chance I gave him. @ Evan - glad you survived the hurricane (nice onomatopoeia - you know, I almost didn't do the OOTI this time, but then I thought you would be disappointed in me if I didn't)! I'm just north of you in central North Carolina and we just got a ton of rain (my daughter's turtle sandbox is now a sand bottom pool). The coastal sections and the areas just inland are flooded. Fabulous Scarlet Letter reference there! You know I appreciate stuff like that! I'm so glad you mentioned the Tales from the Crypt. I put all that effort into and nobody had mentioned it. :( I very much so appreciate the kind words (and like-wise - you and the other readers here are great with the comments and that makes doing these reviews worth it) The insight you had on Miles's crack cocaine addiction is brilliant! It's a rampant epidemic in the spider-verse!

  3. Evan

    Wow, an A! I'm not sure of the last time I saw an A given to an Amazing issue here. It threw me so much that it didn't even register at first -- I thought of Nathaniel Hawthorne before I realized what it meant. Another great review, Mark. It was an eagerly anticipated treat because I'm here in Charleston where we've just had a hurricane (PKARUNCHH!), so I've been unable to check the Crawlspace and am a bit behind. It's nice to be back -- Even just a few days can feel like forever sometimes. That Tales from the Crypt reference made it worth the wait, though! (Poor Aunt May!) Everything is A-okay here now (I'm one of the lucky ones), and it's a beautiful day here today. Thanks to you and the Crawlspace for everything! Everyone here is fantastic -- Well, "amazing" is probably more appropriate a term. Oh, I'd like to take a shot at the extra credit with something you overlooked. I think there is a very simple way to explain the Jackal's behavior, even if he is the same old Miles Warren: Crack cocaine! Crawlspace odds - 100%

  4. Garrett

    I know this is probably a pie-in-the-sky, wild, out-there theory but my guess for the Jackal's identity is Ben Reilly. Hear me out. We've seen the artists make it a point to give Peter stubble over the last few issues of ASM. The Jackal sports matching brown stubble, along with have a similar body type to Peter as far as we can tell. This Jackal has been focused on "doing good" in his own twisted sense. This wouldn't be the first time we've seen Ben Reilly (or any clone of Peter, really) stray from the straight and narrow. In his "origin story" back-up feature from ASM #400, J.M. DeMatteis writes him as unwilling to save a crashing bus full of people and encouraging a broken man to commit suicide. He corrects these mistakes later, obviously, but those seeds are there. Add to that the who-knows-what circumstances he may have been through since his death in Spider-Man #75 and we have a recipe for a who guy's a few chemicals short of a web-fluid batch. This Jackal hasn't been seen until ASM #19 with the usual Warren clones, and it's striking how different they look from him. Instead of the jokey, whimsical Jackal we saw during "Spider-Island" and "Alpha" we have a serious leader who refers to the Warren clones not as "Miles" (like he did before) but as "dupes." In addition, perhaps the addition of Gwen Stacy is symbolic of more than Warren's obsession with Gwen. After all, Gwen was the only love Ben ever knew before being cloned. He has no memories of MJ, Carlie, or anyone else. For him, Gwen was the one--and if he is back among the living, who's to say he couldn't (or wouldn't) bring Gwen back with him? Like I said, this is probably pretty far-fetched and I don't have a high confidence level that Slott and Lowe would do it, but that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

  5. Jack

    Like JR said on the podcast, Slott's mysteries are always cheats because he never gives sufficiently precise or accurate clues that you could maybe figure it out. Just loose generalities that can end up being one of a dozen different characters. But I'll take the kudo, if I'm right. There must be =some= reason why Marvel said there was a clue specifically in Web Warriors, so I'm just going with that series' premise of dimension-hopping. Also, Marvel has a really bad addiction to the idea that good writing means they must heap mountains of life's trash on top of Peter Parker. They did it back in the 1990s. Except when they do that, that also contradicts the Everyman theme, since Everyman doesn't have life's furies coming upon him in droves every second of the day. I'll give Slott some credit, that he intended for Big Time to run counter to all that -- that they'd heaped too much on Peter.

  6. Mark Alford - Post author

    No problem. It's something I've had to define in my head as I go on this gig. The readers on this site are great about accepting different viewpoints and discussing them rather than just discounting someone who liked or disliked a particular issue. No matter what, I think most of agree that we would either like a different writer on ASM or at least a B title like Spectacular to get a different take to go along with ASM.

  7. Mark Alford - Post author

    @Phantom Roxas - It is an unfortunate qualifier. If I'm reviewing ASM, I give it a D-. However, I am reviewing this one issue and I liked it. I also hate it when Slott and other writers try to show Peter has incompetent, but I didn't think that was done this issue. Sure he webbed the wrong guy, but when I first looked at the panel, I thought both guys running were thieves, so I count that as a mistake and not incompetence. The dropping of the clock was also not incompetence, it was an unfortunate result of his very heroic action. One that flowed very well with the story and didn't seem forced into it for plot reasons. @ Jack - if you turn out to be right, we'll have to get "Jack was right!" tee-shirts. Nice short story reference. You get bonus points. @ PeterParkerfan - yeah, the pop culture jokes wear thin after a while. They are best used sparingly. @ Krankyboy - I agree. I wish we were getting Peter Parker stories as good as the Spock stories were. Or at least a Spock title with Slott and someone else trying their hand at Parker. I keep hoping that after this run that is what we'll get, but I stopped holding my breath for it (turns out the issues are too far apart for that to be a useful tactic).

  8. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Jeff Gutman - it's not that I enjoy Slott issues, I've just enjoyed the last couple. In fact, I had decided to drop the title altogether two issues before BD asked me to review them. I've been reviewing since January and my grades have been all over the place from F to finally A. I just approach each issue as independent of all others. If I don't, I couldn't enjoy any of these because I do not like how Peter is portrayed. If you check my grades over the past run, any grade that got a B or higher, with the exception of this issue, has been when Slott is focused on a different character. Those issues are more enjoyable. I hate that I am enjoying the issues when my favorite character is absent and I know that is a statement on this whole run in itself, but that is the way it has been ever since Slott took on this title. So what is there to do? I'm spending money to read these issues. Do I hold the last ten issues against this one that is good and refuse to like it because I'm making a stand against Slott? Do I fail every issue until Slott is replaced because I do not enjoy his Spider-Man as a whole? Or do I focus on what I like and acknowledge that even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in a while? That's what I felt this was. A single good Peter Parker issue. We know Slott CAN write well - heck the podcast was praising his early stories and hoping he would get the nod at the beginning of his tenure. If Slott had been writing like this from the get go, we would all love CEO Peter. Unfortunately that is not the case, but it is nice to see what could have been. So suspect my grading all you want. That's the beauty of different ideas mixing together on this site and that's why I always ask for your grades. I love it when Mohammed sends me FB messages disagreeing with my grade (or shamefully admitting that I may be correct). I think I've been pretty transparent in my attitude toward this run. I just choose to reflect what I enjoy and not let the other stuff bring me down. And don't worry, if this holds out like the other major Spider events, I'm sure my grade will not stay high.

  9. Jeff Gutman

    Boy you really seem to enjoy these Slott issues, don't you? Last few issues have gotten As and Bs. I think the bar has been lowered pretty significantly though. Slotts grade A is still a C compared to any other comic being published. So your grading scale is suspect.

  10. krankyboy

    "Slott can write great Spider-Man stories as long as Peter Parker is not actually in it." Which means it's not really a Spider-Man story.

  11. Phantom Roxas

    "Slott can write great Spider-Man stories as long as Peter Parker is not actually in it." I know that you say he succeeded here, but that's still a rather unfortunate qualifier. Slott telling a good story with the main character should be the bare minimum of his duties as a writer. And I really don't like how Slott portrays the "Parker Luck". I understand that Peter has difficulty balancing his life as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but Slott makes it so that even when Peter succeeds, contrived circumstances make it so that SOMETHING must fail. Peter's successes only matter in the moment, while Slott is more interested in the consequences of Peter's efforts backfiring. It gives the impression that Slott is more interested in showing where Peter is incompetent.

  12. PeterParkerfan

    I still HATE Slott's pop culture jokes. The Pokemon Go references in ASM v4 #17 (734) were awful. Aside from the unnecessary pop culture references, this issue was decent. I give it c+.

  13. Jack

    1. Young, managerial, and evidently not crazy. 2. Seems (on the surface) to think of himself as doing good (in some way). 3. Interested in Peter Parker/Spider-Man (everyone he's reanimated is connected somehow to SM). 4. Cares about Gwen Stacy enough to clone her -- but hasn't yet acted romantically toward her, notice. 5. Has dupes of Miles Warren around, but that doesn't mean they are dupes of this Jackal. 6. Gwen addressed him as "Jackal", not "Miles." 7. Very probably the one who stole Otto's corpse. 8. Marvel / Slott claimed recently there was a clue in WEB WARRIORS, 9. If a cover is any indication, strong enough to smash Peter in the face. 10. Appears to be very anti-death. Chastised Francine for killing Hobie. I'm going to take a guess at a Spider-Verse Miles., guess #5, The Inheritors' tech was alien, and it wasn't Earth-type cloning (whatever it was), Once the Inheritors were gone, the regeneration center on Loomworld would have been abandoned. That Miles, free of their enslavement, might have treated himself to a new body, and used the loom to skip town.

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