Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #20


asm20-coverWith an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.  All this it’s-not-a-clone-it’s-reanimation talk is beginning to sound very familiar to me.  I’m sure I’ll put my finger on it sooner than later.  Doc Ock is back and he’s working with the Jackal and Gwen Stacy.  What you say?  How could this be?  Read on and find out.

 

The Devil in the Details

Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage

Penciler: Guiseppe Camuncoli

Inkers: Cam Smith and Guiseppe Camuncoli

Colorist: Jason Keith

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: October 19, 2016

asm20-title-page-designThis issue also has a special thanks to Danielle Orlandini.  I didn’t find anything explaining why she gets mentioned on this title page, but I believe she is an artist at Marvel.  Anyone who knows anything about this, please leave it in the comments section.
Speaking of title pages, we get a new one this issue designed by Anthony Gambino and it looks so much better than the previous one with Spider-Man and the globe.

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

This picks up exactly where Clone Conspiracy #1 leaves off. Doc Ock has Spider-Man in his tentacles.  He explains that he is not a clone, but the real Doctor Octopus returned from the dead.  It then goes back a few days to follow what happened to Otto once he left the Living Brain.  He learns that his body and several other villains buried at the same cemetery, have all been stolen.   Using Anna Marconi 2.0, he is able to find out who has his body and arranges for this third party to sell the body to New U.

After a bit of confusion on the part of both the buyer and seller, the Jackal takes the opportunity to clone reanimate the pretty nasty looking body of Otto Octavius.  That’s when we get the monkey wrench.

asm20-pp-in-do

Otto manages to get his octobot into the tank and insert his brain patterns back into his old body, beating Peter Parker’s mind pattern since he is no match for Ock.  Ock emerges from the tank, tells the man in red that he will not be working for him, but rather with him to fix the problems with this process.  Cue back to modern time and Spider-Man is getting his face smashed into a wall.

POP QUIZ

Who was the Jackal’s very first murder?

a. His own clone (which later became Carrion)
b. The first Peter Parker clone
c. Anthony Serba, because Serba felt human cloning was wrong
d. The first Gwen Stacy clone attempt (which pushed him over the deep end)
e. His brother, the high school teacher at Midtown High
f. Himself – all other versions are now clones
g. His mother – an accident that started him on his path to
h. His wife, when she found out his obsession with a college girl

jackalpopquiz

Click to see the correct answer

What Passed:

Slott writes a good Ock story and this is no different.  The smug attitude, the return of Stepford wife digital version of Anna Marconi – this is Slott doing what he loves best.

I particularly enjoyed Spider-Man calling Ock “Tubby McPyscho”.

Not that this is a pass, but did you notice that one of the Miles Warren dupes is wearing Web Ware?  Everyone in the Spider-Man comics are.  For those of you reading other comics in the Marvel Universe, are people sporting the Web Ware there?

I like how the Wilson Fisk part was only one panel.  That’s all it takes to keep me interested in what Fisk is doing.  That shows good pacing.

asm20-kingpin

Lizard’s tail – 1  Octobot – 0  Seems nothing is a match for that rear appendage!

Doc Ock standing firm while his arms come to him was a nice touch.  I was a bit thrown by the comment that anyone else who tries to wear the arms would be attacked by them.  I distinctly remember Spider-man wearing the arms.  I looked and looked for it and then found I was thinking of this Marvel Adventures story instead:

marvel-adventures

OOTI

ooti

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), RRNNCHHH rates a 7.

What Failed:

Fat Ock – He claims he now has a “new fresh body. Healthy and restored!” I guess healthy is a relative term here.

asm20-healthy-otto

Oh, you can remove Captain Stacy’s need for a cane, but I have to keep my man boobs?

I’m still having an issue with Martha Connors being a scientist.

While Peter’s remarks are quippy, the Jackal’s remarks fall well short of being funny.  The part where he asks for popcorn and follows it up with no, really, get me some popcorn is just not funny.  Neither is the fact that he is actually eating popcorn in a later panel.

I didn’t mind the art is this issue except for the awful flashback scenes (or rather the flashback in the flashback scenes).  The actual recap is fine to get people caught up that aren’t following the story religiously, but the art for it, well, see for yourself:

asm20-bad-recap

It’s not clones.  It’s different.  O.K., can we all just go along with this so that Slott can stop telling us why this cloning is not really cloning?  It’s like watching The Force Awakens – it’s not really the Death Star, it’s bigger!  I’m not so sure why this is such a big deal that it is reanimating and not cloning.  O.K., the body is brought back to life.  Got it.  It’s the real Gwen Stacy.  Got it.  It’s the real Ock (or rather, the real copy of Ock).  Got it. You can stop trying to convince me.

spideycomicTwo Panels.  That’s all that the real Spider-Man appears in this issue.  Two panels.  This is the most egregious failing.  Granted, I like Slott’s Ock.  Two issues ago we got a great Ock story.  But last issue we got a great Peter Parker story.  I was really hoping for more of that.  If Ock is going to be so prominent in this story, I wish that they had done an extra Superior Spider-Man issue just for his story and kept Amazing for Peter Parker.  Did the story need to be told?  Probably.  Was it good.  Yes.  Is it what I was wanting from this issue? Not at all.  I’m guessing that this is why we are being told so much right now that Clone Conspiracy is the main title for this story.  It seems that Amazing is left as nothing more than a supplemental story like Prowler and Silk are going to be.  I have mixed feelings on this.

Analysis:

When Doc Ock realized that Peter Parker’s brain waves were still in his body, I thought that he was going to end up getting in a Peter Parker body and we would have a showdown between a Spock and Peter in a Doc Ock body.  I’m sure we didn’t need a longer scene here, but it seemed I got jipped.  By the time my popcorn had finished popping, the fight was over.  One funny thing was Ock putting Peter down for only being a copy.  That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

I found the empty graves a bit of a letdown (other than a bit of cleverness that will be addressed in the extra credit section).  I’m sure it will factor in a story that we start to get promoted next June, but I just expected it to be Jackal that had all the bodies.  So now we have a group of people that make money off of selling the bodies of specifically supervillains?  It just seemed to be an unnecessary diversion (other than that aforementioned bit of cleverness).   How many people are out there that want the dead bodies of super villains?  How can there be enough money making potential to make this a worthwhile venture?  At any rate, there is a group in Symkaria that is interested in the body of Doctor Octopus, so maybe that will mean something for a return somehow of Silver Sable since that is her country.  Since Smythe’s body is also gone, I guess we can expect a return for him which may cause some problems for Marla and Jameson down the road.

At any rate, we have something that is either going to be brilliant or a letdown.  The Jackal (whoever he is – at the moment, my message board poll shows that you guys think he is Miles Warren in a Peter Parker body) believes that he is a good guy.  I can buy that.  The best villains often think of themselves as the hero of their own story.  He is surrounding himself with villains and the Spider-sense is letting us know that things are not as nice as they seem.  I’m all no problem about that.  But how is Prowler, Gwen, and Captain Stacy all buying into this?  There is either something really WOW that will be dropped on us, or else this will suffer from too much build up.

Extra Credit:

Gage was quite clever here and I’m curious if any of you spotted it (or can figure out the cleverness).  Here is what you have to go on – the names of the two people who are selling the dead bodies are Burke and Hare.  So you tell me – why did he use those names?

Final Grade:

B

Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?

 

What’s Next?

Quite a bit, actually.  Here’s the reading list for this event:

the-clone-conspiracy-event-checklist

 

 

‘Nuff Said! 

(9) Comments

  1. hornacek

    "The part where he asks for popcorn and follows it up with no, really, get me some popcorn is just not funny. Neither is the fact that he is actually eating popcorn in a later panel." This might have worked if he had been shown eating Oscorn.

  2. Calvin Ng

    Burke and Hare were murderers who ran a lodging house who sold their victims' bodies to a certain Mr. Knox for money in Scotland. Pretty smart of Gage to use their names for the 'grave robbers' who sold bodies of superheroes/ villains for profits.

  3. Mark Alford

    @ xonathan - I guess it depends on when her body was taken. I'm sure Peter had Gwen's body put back and maybe it was stolen after that. I'd have to go back and read Sins Past to remember how that all went down - and I don't see that happening! @ Jack - Ha! @ Shaun - That's a shame. What's the use of having a shared universe if they aren't sharing? @ ryan3178 - I guess Ock just can't help it. It's in his DNA - like the Prowler's goatee. However, if he is bringing the original body back to life, and not just creating new one, wouldn't that be a bit different from cloning? Personally I don't care, but by using this process, we shouldn't see multiples of reanimated people running around. I'm assuming that the Warren dupes are clones while the others are reanimates. This stuff just makes your head hurt. Nobody got the extra credit yet? Come on, folks - get that homework turned in!

  4. ryan3178

    I agree on having Ock "being healthy" when really this is reflecting with Slott: "I like the pudgy Doc Ock." Plus, copy, reanimation, more and more THEY ARE CLONES! CLONES! CLONES! Stop trying to say it is different and yes, Slott enjoys writing Spider-Man that barely has any Spider-Man in it. Unless it's Superior Spider-Man or 2099.

  5. Shaun Martineau

    For those of you reading other comics in the Marvel Universe, are people sporting the Web Ware there? To respond to that... I've only ever seen Web Ware in Venom and it was Peter using it.

  6. Jack

    This is the Ock that doesn't end / Yes, it goes on and on, my friend / Slott started singing it, not liking Parker Pete/ and he'll continue singing it forever, just because...

  7. xonathan

    So "Jackal" stole Gwen's corpse from the grave. Doesn't this contradict the much beloved Sins Past story where Peter goes to her grave to take a genetic sample? :P I guess people do not like the sound of cloning so it's reanimation. Is Doc Ock a zombie now?

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