It’s a Gwen issue written by Dan Slott. The worst of both worlds. Let’s just get this over with.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #23
“The Moment You Know”
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colors: Jason Keith
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
This issue is particularly bare bones, so a short summary is in order. In between the pages of Clone Conspiracy #4, Ben
eilly gives Peter a tour of Haven, his 1960s paradise for all of the people he’s cloned, reintroducing him to the Gwen clone (Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a
clone.) and Captain Stacy. Rackal leaves them to bond, and Gwen and Peter go inside the house she and Captain Stacy live in. They joke for a bit about Gwen’s alternate dimension counterpart (Ha ha ha, talking about dead people in other dimensions! That’s heartwarming! Ha ha ha!) and they then switch immediately over to an “Intense” moral debate over whether or not she is truly Gwen Stacy (Spoiler alert: she isn’t. We’ve had this argument a couple dozen times over three different Clone Sagas.)
We then meet up with Clone Conspiracy #4, though this time it’s instead Gwen with whom Peter is watching everybody get pilled. (First off, that came out wrong. Second, how are two different timelines happening at once for a single event written by the same author?!) The cellular degeneration kicks in, and the issue ends with Peter screaming Gwen’s name as he’s trampled by supervillains.
I generally try to be as objective as possible.
Slott seems to have made it his personal mission to make me tip on the scale.
Right off the bat, however, you’ll notice that the dialogue isn’t, for the most part, hard to swallow and makes you cringe when you read it. That’s because Mr. Christos Gage came into the office and Slott got first dibs on clean-up duty in his script. There’s still evidence of the Slottster, particularly in his back-and-forth with Peter and Gwen that goes on for far too long. But Gage cleans it up enough that I don’t find too much to complain about, and unless it looks like Slott wrote it, I’m gonna take what I can get.
Now, let’s talk about the art.
To elaborate, I’m running out of things to say about Giuseppe Camuncoli that I haven’t said before, and I’m going to start
sounding like a broken record eventually. And I don’t like riffing on him, because he can actually do some good work. His work on previous Amazing Spider-Man volumes and a Ms Marvel stint are actually really great works in terms of pencils. But he seems to be really slacking when it comes to pencilling for Slott. Proportions are way off (particularly the Spoder-Man clone that Mark pointed out) and lines are incomplete, some panels don’t even have his webbing pattern, random lines are excessively inked, and he draws faces like they came out of Foodfight. He draws women (Gwen in particular) with this really weird, narrow and v-shaped face, and when you put her side-by-side with Power Play’s drawings of MJ, they’re uncannily similar in terms of proportion. I think it’s even more sad by the fact that Slott had a perfect opportunity to phase Camuncoli out for RB Silva, who is a phenomenal artist as well and arguably would have fit the mood better, and between him and Stuart Immomen pencilling “The Osborn Identity”, it would have given Camuncoli a more flexible deadline. I think he’s just overworked, and while it’s not an acceptable excuse given how much 60’s era artists were worked in their day, it’s the only one I can come up with that’s plausible given that this is a case of Power Play Syndrome.
When it comes to narrative, Slott has yet to get me fully invested, and we’re far past the halfway point and nearing the resolution of the story. And because the solicits mention nothing regarding the Clone Conspiracy, there will likely be no fallout, no real consequences, or many, if any, characters returning after the event is over. We’ll see Gwen die, we’ll get the drama of Ben having a conscience again and becoming the Scarlet Spider. We all know this drama, it’s manufactured as all hell, just as much as the clones that the story is revolving around.
I made a joke earlier that this issue is just a reminder of Power Play. But, to be honest, it isn’t that far off of an assessment. Bad art, bad writing (at least in terms of pacing) and just a lack of wanting to get into this story and enjoy it, or die trying. Slott seems to revel in the fact that the reader suffers a massive disconnect when they read this story, and in the final stretch of an event written by a guy known for rushing his big stories, my hopes for a great finale are really looking grim.
Final Grade: D