“Why won’t you let me die?”
Mark’s had his turn to put the comic through the shredder. It’s Christmas, and so now it’s my turn to pour out the shredder and tear the smaller pieces apart for you. That said, this review is brought to you by FedEx and Kinkos.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #22
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Jason Keith
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
Special Thanks: Daniele Orlandini (If anybody can tell me what she’s responsible for, please tell me. You get a no-prize.)
The issue begins immediately after the events of Clone Conspiracy #3, where Ben “Jackal” Reilly has offered Peter Parker, Age 29, to bring back their Uncle Ben. Peter, in the only in-character moment he has in this comic, beats the crap out of Ben for even proposing the idea. (It’s almost as if people should respect that people are dead! What a shock!) Peter then asks how Ben is back from the flour mill. Ben replies with a 13 slide presentation recap of Peter’s life and where they split off (Because we haven’t been reminded of Spider-Man’s classic history enough in Slott’s run, have we?) Apparently, after the battle with the Green Goblin, Miles Warren/The Jackal/A Clone found the flour and scooped it up into a petri dish. (Because just one petri dish will fit all of that dust! So says the writer!)
Ben then wakes up restrained in a test tube, where Warren is studying him. Turns out he’s still trying to fix the cellular degeneration problem, but has had no such success. So,in order to crack the problem, he decides to kill Ben over and over to get the result he wants. (Did it not occur to him to just make 27 different Spider-Man clones? Also, what time period is this taking place in? Is it before Spider-Island? After? Where in the Spider-timeline are we? I’m so confuuusssed!) On the 26th kill count (or 27th if you count the emotional flour) Ben gets fed up and breaks free, killing Warren. But, Camuncoli snaps Ben’s neck and a few nerve cells so that he can be the one to clone Warren again, and decides to don the new Jackal costume. (Which was just now tailored for him especially alongside the other costumes?) And so we cut back to the present, where Peter makes the decision to keep on listening.
I’m just… I’m just… sigh.
This suffers from a lot of the same problems that Slott has been called out on in the past, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he continues these problems come the Osborn vs Parker Industries storyline. And what makes it worse is that Slott seems like he’s trying. He wants to write Spider-Man, and he wants to write it his way. There’s a lot of love being poured into it, but the problem is that it’s not the right kind of love for Spider-Man.
I think it’s just that the reviewers on this site, myself included, don’t really hate Slott. He can put out good stuff. “I Killed Tomorrow” for example, or if you want a more recent example, Superior Spider-Man and Renew Your Vows. It was a story that he was given free reign to write, with the characters he wanted to use. When he’s given his favorite toys, Slott puts out something great. But when he’s told by mandate which character he’s supposed to write, it feels like he goes out of his way to drive them into the ground and force people to hate them. He continually makes the same poor choices and refuses to acknowledge criticism. This isn’t helped by the fact that Nick Lowe, from what I can tell, isn’t really keeping him in check like an editor should. This story feels very rushed out, almost like Slott came up with it on a Tuesday evening and told Gage to make the whole thing feel like a cohesive story by Wednesday morning. The stories that are tied to the Clone Conspiracy (Silk and is the only one that come to mind) work better because she is not tied to the main story. It ties into her main story and Jameson in her supporting cast gives her a reason to be there other than “the plot demands it.” Prowler, while basically being tied to the Clone Conspiracy by editorial mandate, still manages to be its own thing because it isn’t tied to the main story, which gives it a bit more flexibility to work on its own perspective.
Jumping off the track for a minute, let’s talk about Giuseppe Camuncoli. With Jason Keith, I think his art has improved
significantly from when he was working alongside Marte Garcia (who was handed over to Bendis
and Caselli on Invincible Iron Man), but he still has this really weird way of drawing faces that I cannot get over. I will always compare Camuncoli to Caselli because part of me has reason to believe that Camuncoli was Slott’s choice to replace Caselli. And Camuncoli always comes in second place. Now, when he’s given a face that is so surreal and horrifying, he can do a really good job displaying it. When Ben Reilly was being destroyed in all of these creative ways, it was particularly horrifying. But when he’s drawing faces, it could be a lot, lot better. It’s just dull and depressing, with no natural sense of life. It all feels artificial.
Now, back to the story complaints. I’m sure a lot of people are really ticked off that Ben Reilly of all people is the Jackal, the person who created him and was the bane of his existence for several years in real time. I’ll be honest, I never grew up with Ben Reilly as my Spider-Man; I grew up with the JMS run, which I’ll admit spoiled me as a Spider-Man reader. I have a higher standard for storytelling. I have always been a Peter Parker guy, but I, for one, understand that people will not be happy with Benny being the Jackal. There’s an entire generation that grew up with a clone of Peter Parker being his close ally, friend, and successor. To be fair, his turn to the proverbial dark side makes a lick of sense and you are able to sympathize. But… this isn’t really what Reilly fans had in mind for his grand return, was it? I certainly don’t think so. I also found it rather offensive that Peter was actively persuaded to come over to his side, or at least hear him out. Part of me is sure that this is some kind of in-the-works
As I stated earlier, all of Dan Slott’s previous flaws come back to nibble at us once again, if only because he hasn’t had time to sit down and rewrite it. Camuncoli isn’t much better off, and this all just reeks of “let’s do this, because the controversy sells really well and we’ll get lots of sales.” Part of me is just really hoping that this train grinds to a halt soon, or gets itself back on the rails and actually makes me want to read this book again.
Merry Christmas, my fellow Spider-Fans. Here is my gift to you.
Final Grade: D