“Why isn’t anyone picking up?”
Slott’s gotten two-for-two recently. Can he keep the momentum going? Let’s find out as we wrap up Dead No More!
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #19
“Dead No More Conclusion: Change of Heart”
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Jason Keith
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
A) Our story begins as Jonah interviews Dr. Rita Clarkson at the Fact Channel, admitting that he has impressed her, but does point out there’s usually a catch when it comes to this sort of thing. (I think Jonah is talking about the quality of Slott’s work. It’s getting pretty meta in here.) He gets a call from an anonymous caller, who asks if his father will be using the treatment, but Jameson hangs up since his old man asked for some privacy on that front. We find out that the call was from the Jackal, who is admonished by a Gwen clone (But wait, says Slott! This one has been the real Gwen all along! Everything you’ve known is a lie!) for being too hard on Jameson.
We then cut to Mount Sinai Hospital, where Jay has taken a turn for the worse. Peter is on his way, but
stops momentarily to stop what appears to be two thieves getting away. Peter webs them both to the ground, but it turns out that one of them was the shop owner’s son
chasing him. Peter can’t do anything about it, but as he webs away, people start calling him a menace. (Wasn’t the entire point of this volume supposed to be how Spider-Man is loved by the world at large? Why are we regressing to this plot point?!) Once he arrives at the hospital, Jay goes into shock, but requests he have a private word with Peter before he goes into surgery. Jay wants Peter to go back to his house and pick up a Jameson heirloom to give to May in case he passes.
Peter does so, and finds that it is an old clock. (Is it a Doctor Who reference? This run has been so pop-culterey that I can’t tell what is and what isn’t a reference!) On his way back, however, a crane hits a building, in which Peter is forced to abandon his journey and save them. (Here’s a good question: where’s Miles? Couldn’t he do this? No, wait! I see him! He’s over there, at the Triskelion, fighting a fight that shouldn’t even be fought in the first place!) Aunt May and Jameson both call and try to get Peter to pull the New U card, but Peter refuses to do so, and as the last of the groups make it out safe, Peter’s webbing dissolves and the box falls. (And somehow doesn’t completely shatter on impact. The Jamesons made their boxes strong, I see.) As Peter picks up the box, he desperately tries to call May and Jonah to use the New U treatment. (Are they gonna kill off Aunt May and replace her with Marisa Tomei? Because corporate synergy is the name of the game!) And our story comes to an end as Peter arrives and realizes that Jay has passed (Don’t worry, he’ll get better) upon seeing a crying Jonah and May, opening the box to reveal the broken clock. (Wow, I almost cried. Too bad I’m reminded that three months ago I was wasting my time with Power Play when I look at that broken clock! For all we know, it could just be mine and Jameson stole it!
B) The Kingpin is visited by Jackal, who has brought back his wife Vanessa back from the grave. However, Kingpin acknowledges that she is not the same, snapping her neck and killing her. In response, Jackal sends Rhino in to tear the place apart. (A wall for a neck. Proportionate retaliation, I suppose.) Spider-Man comes on scene, and Kingpin falls back, injured from fighting the Rhino.
So, I mentioned in my prelude that Slott has gotten good hits twice in a row in leading up to Dead No More. And I can faithfully say that he does hit a third time… but midair the ball catches a current and fails to go over.
The art is okay in this issue. Not Silva level, mind you, but Camuncoli made some serviceable art this issue. Granted, there are some panels that inspire less-than-positive vibes when looking at them (Peter’s stoic, unmoving eyes or Aunt May’s sunken cheekbones come to mind almost instantly), but we have to remember that Blanchi set a very low standard with “Amazing Grace”. That said, all comparisons aside, Camuncoli has won me over. Jason Keith is a colorist who I feel deserves to stick around for a bit, simply because he doesn’t color everything shiny like he has OCD, in reference to Marte Garcia’s obsession with polishing everything and giving it a metallic structure, even faces.
Slott also made me, for once, care about what’s happening to the characters in this issue. What made it hard for me to really invest in everything the last few issues is that the supporting cast has not been consistently featured: Prowler hasn’t been seen or even mentioned since #5, and Anna Maria hasn’t been featured since before Power Play, and even then she only really appeared for about half of it in some key role. Here, however, we have had time to look over the situation and understand why our characters are acting in such ways. Peter is obviously exhausted and has no idea where to go, Jay is on the brink, May is scared her husband’s going to die, and Jonah’s hissy that nobody is really taking his advice. For once, people are making human mistakes, instead of mistakes just appearing out of nowhere because the Slott-plot demands it.
Slott also has a way of working with symbolism in this issue. I did find the clock’s falling easy to notice the moment he got it out of the safe, but it was also significant from a narrative standpoint regarding Clone Conspiracy: time has run out. When we see the clock break, we know Jameson has died. Though both the clock falling and Jameson’s death were both heavily foreshadowed, almost painfully so, it did have a lot of weight to it.
That said, I don’t really care about all the characters. Notably, Jay.
Jonah, on one hand, I’ve had a lot of fun reading over in Silk. May, less so, but she is an established Spider-Man character whose impact means a lot to Peter, even if it hasn’t been featured. But what exactly has Jay contributed to Spider-Man’s mythos? Not much, especially when you consider he’s been around for about six or seven years. If he were to not be added, not a whole lot would be drastically changed. This lack of usefulness, combined with the fact that they can just clone him, takes away from a lot of the impact of his death, and actually makes it almost pointless. On one hand, it can force Peter to explore the consequences of his life as Spider-Man, something that Slott has only barely started to point out, and makes for some great dynamic changes between him, Jonah and May. On the other, Slott has been known to take other avenues in exploring Spider-Man’s character, usually to have it dud pointlessly, so it all comes down to whether or not Slott can actually remember that Peter can and should face ramifications for his choices.
The second story is okay. Doesn’t really add anything, but I didn’t find it distinctly bad in any sense. It just… exists, and I think the appropriate word is harmless. It is a bit hard to understand what’s going on without reading the FCBD issue, but it doesn’t hamper the enjoyment factor.
Am I hyped for Clone Conspiracy? Not in the slightest. Slott’s track record with events has caused me to not really care at this point. I’ll read it, but simply out of obligation, just so things running in this book make sense. In the meantime, however, Slott’s managed to impress me and not feel like I’m running headfirst in disaster.
Final Grade: B