We 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.
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.
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:
On 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.
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?
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.
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.
What grade do YOU give it?
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!
“CLONE CONSPIRACY” TIE-IN!
- 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