Stormin’ Norman’s back in the title, and it’s a mad hunt to bring him in! Will Spider-Man and guest star Mockingbird be able to capture him before it’s too late?
Of course not, then the story would be over.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #25
“The Osborn Identity (Again) Pt 1: Bug Hunt”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
“Police and Thieves”
Writer: Christos Gage
Pencils: Todd Nuack
Inks: Todd Nuack
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Writer: Jacob Chabot
Pencils: Ray-Anthony Height
Inks: Waldon Wong
Colors: Jim Campbell
“This story has no name and I’m too lazy to give it one”
Writer: James Asmus
Pencils: Tana Ford
Colors: Andres Mossa
“Mutts Ado About Nothing”
Writer: Hannah Blumenreich
Pencils: Hannah Blumenreich
Inks: Jordan Gibson
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
“The A-May-Zing Spider-Aunt”
Everything: Cale Atkinson
“The Auto Empire”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Jason Keith
Story #1- Spider-Man and Bobbi Morse- aka Mockingbird- are in Delvadia with SHIELD and Devil Spider and Tarantula (Characters who I could literally care less about and went, “WHO?” when I saw them), aiming to capture Norman Osborn after receiving intel from the Kingpin in Clone Conspiracy Omega, as a cloaked figure examines their entry. Though they manage to capture the leader of the group, it turns out not to be Osborn, but some random guy. Elsewhere, the real Norman Osborn is hiding out with a warthog mask, getting plastic surgery for another face.
Peter lands back in New York to put Uncle Ben’s grave back (I think) and to visit Aunt May, who has been with Harry Osborn/Lyman and Betty Brant, who I think are an item but kind of aren’t. In order to continue the hunt for Osborn, Peter offers to take her place at the Uncle Ben Foundation event in Hong Kong. In an unrelated subplot, Betty got a call from Ned’s clone (Would Ned even know how to use a smartphone?), and she’s having an existential crisis. (She was also watching Slott on CBR, so that might mean something.)
En route to Hong Kong, Peter tries to ask Bobbi out, but it turns out that Aunt May and Harry snuck on board to follow them, interrupting Peter. (Cockblocking! More than meets the eye!) Upon arrival, the two suit up and bust up a few crime rings, with no luck until they stumble across a random goon who reveals a hit at the Uncle Ben Foundation event. Peter and Bobbi bust the attacker, who turns out to be a very much alive Silver Sable. Recovering from the attack, she reveals that they just stopped the assassination of Norman Osborn!
Story #2- Spidey goes up against the Amazing Bulk (No, seriously, I think that’s what Gage is referencing. Go look it up.) and tries to stop Clash, who is raiding a Roxxon Corp. building. Turns out Roxxon was experimenting on death row animals, and Clash was using the stolen jewels to give the pets a good home. Peter looks the other way, given how he’s doing good things with the money. (Boy, he must really have a soft spot for people who stabbed him in the back.)
Story #3- A Spider-Man Tsum-Tsum (Which I kind of want now) comes alive for some reason and helps Spider-Man take down the White Rabbit and her gang with some wacky hijinks. Spider-Man repays the favor by giving him the Fifty Shades of Grey treatment. (And with no USB Drive telling him where Tsum-Tsum Green Goblin is? Shame.)
Story #4- Spidey, in Shanghai, defeats the villains Ember and Aftershock (Aka Chinese Pyro and Electro), but destroys Parker Industries’ R&D lab, further shattering the trust of his employees and costing several millions in Webware improvements.
Story #5- Ginger Peter, years ago adopts a stray dog that Aunt May calls Animal Control on. She gets him a fish to make up for it.
Story #6- A day in the life of Aunt May, her interactions with Peter’s villains, and cookie time with the Avengers.
Story #7- Doc Ock, in a fusion of his and Peter’s body and sporting a Richard Spencer haircut, arrives at one of his bases, only to be assaulted by HYDRA agents. Because he defeated the group’s leader, Armin Zola offers Ock a place in HYDRA and he accepts. Creating a new costume, he dubs himself “The Superior Octopus.”
I’m already kind of biased, like the rest of the Crawlspace staff, on the fact that I don’t think $10 is worth 96 pages of material. I was able to buy three different comics this week for less than that, so this had to really knock the ball out of the park.
It comes close to the justification quota, but screeches to a halt just before the finish line. And there’s so much in here I didn’t have time to write my signature asides.
Let’s talk about the first story to kick things off. Slott has a decent track record of setting things up, but it’s where he has to wrap things up that he has problems. This issue, at 40 pages, takes a while to get through, but it’s fairly action-packed and the dialogue based scenes are small enough that they’re not hard to get through. The only one that drags for a bit is the scene where Peter visits Uncle Ben’s grave, where he has the same moral crisis that we’ve already seen, further cementing the previous storyline as a watered-down Clone Saga III.
The dialogue, while contentious in some places (Again, the Uncle Ben grave scene and the raid on the underground compound (“I
WANT OSBORN!”)) is for the most part well-written.
Peter and Bobbi’s relationship is another thing worth discussion. Like a lot of other people, I’m a big marriage guy (If you’ve read my FNSM run, this is obvious) but here’s where I’m pretty sure I deviate from the normal opinion: I believe that Peter and Bobbi actually had a pretty well-written dynamic here, and their chemistry isn’t that hard to believe. Most people don’t know this, but when we were in the Dark Age (2011 or so), I was actually supportive of the Spider-Man/Ms. Marvel relationship during Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel run. Then again, the only competition she was getting at the time was Carlie Cooper under Slott’s pen.
But on that note, I’m all for substitute relationships until somebody takes Slott’s place and lets Spidey punch Mephisto. I’m willing to let this and the obligatory love triangle between the two and Silver Sable go through because, at this point, we’ve come into a pattern that it will amount for nothing.
Replacing Camuncoli this round is Stuart Immonen, who I think was a great substitute and somebody I wouldn’t mind taking over the ongoing. His line work is a much better fit with returning colorist Marte Graci, particularly in the panel with Peter and Bobbi swinging above Hong Kong’s skyline. The lighting, combined with Immonen’s pencils and van Grawbadger’s inks, creates some gorgeous panels that I could see hanging up as posters in my game room. That said, there are some panels that Immonen overuses his cross-hatching (a technique I personally despise and I feel should be used sparsely in conjunction with shadow) and it looks odd, particularly on the airplane. But I can see Immonen carrying the book if Slott fails to deliver on the story later on.
The only story that has any continuity impact is the final story, but for the most part the back-ups do deliver and inch the story closer to being worth that $10 price tag. Hannah Blumenreich stole the show for me, even though I’ll never forgive the colorist for making Peter a ginger. The A-May-Zing Spider-Aunt backup was a good piece of humor, and I don’t think anybody really needs to talk about Richard Spencer parody Doc Ock, because that page was talked about to death already. What really burned me off the book was that fourth story. I know Tana Ford can do good art (Most of her Silk work has been good. Not enough to compete with Stacey Lee, but good.) but this was really, really bad. Forget Ramos bad, this was… phew.
The only back-up with talk-worthy substance is the Clash backup, which I actually quite enjoyed. Like Mark, I thoroughly enjoyed the Civil War Tie-in where Clayton went back to the costume, making him a much more rounded and sympathetic character. And seeing him do good things while on the wrong side of the law does seem consistent with his character, given his actions in ASM (2014) #18 and ASM (2015) #3. If there’s ever a Clash solo or stealth-mini that’s cancelled after six issues, give it Gage, because he clearly understands the character more than Slott, the guy who created him. (Which seems to be a recurring theme with Slott OCs and other writers. Oh well.) And if that ever happens, they need to put Todd Nuack on it, because he totally rocked it this time.
For a 25th issue, this wasn’t horrible as we were worried, and the back-ups save one were all worth their dime. but I’m worried that things will go downhill as the story continue, not to mention that the price tag still feels a bit large for the order. But at least there was that cool Monsters Unleashed ongoing ad. That was pretty rad.
Story #1: B+
Story #2: B+
Story #3: It Made Me Want to Buy A Tsum-Tsum
Story #4: D
Story #5: A-
Story #6: B+
Story #7: Hail HYDRA