THE RIDE NEVER ENDS. HAIL HYDRA.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #29
“Secret Empire, Pt 1: Rightful Ruler”
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devon Lewis
In London, Peter and Anna Maria are preparing for an interview following Parker Industries’ sudden intervention in Symkaria. During the interview, Peter manages to gain good PR by word of Silver Sable and the more partially biased Aunt May, but the interview is cut short by coverage of the cosmic heroes beginning the defense against the Chitauri wave in Secret Empire #0. Cancelling the interview, Peter and Anna Maria head back to the Parker Industries, and Anna gets out early to meet up with Aiden Blaine (You know, that guy from ASM #18 who Living Ock sent to Australia? Actually kind of clever on Slott’s part.) while Peter’s Spider-Sense goes off, prompting him to suit up.
Arriving into the cubicle section, his employees Hail Hydra, assaulting him with all sorts of office supplies. (Including a stapler of all things! I still would’ve gone with a No. 2 pencil. Both as an artists and because pointy things.) However, a voice from Peter’s office tells them and the soldiers overseeing the op to stand down, as Spider-Man is his. Peter discovers that his foe is none other than Slott’s favorite character, Otto, now the Superior Octopus. Otto offers an alternate solution to dying: transfer ownership of Parker Industries to him. Peter refuses, but Otto decides to call him out on multiple things: First, he never earned the company. Second, his wetware is ripped off from the Web Warriors’ talismans from Spider-Verse. (Actually a detail I didn’t pick up on as well. If it was Slott or Gage, good attention to detail.)
After a lengthy fight, Peter gets a call from the Tony Stark AI (Read Invincible Iron Man, it’s a bit complicated) alerting all Avengers to head to Washington DC to repel the incoming HYDRA invasion. Peter chooses the greater good, and takes off in his Spider-Themed Pogo Plane. (In Stores Now, with real-life takeoff action!) Meanwhile, Anna has apparently been stood up, but it turns out it was all a ruse as Otto detonates a bomb at PI, destroying the building as he walks away. (All that’s missing now is Bush with a banner that says ‘Mission Accomplished’.)
I don’t care who it was. Dan Slott or Christos Gage, somebody made ASM #29 something really good. And considering how most tie-ins to events comics generally suck, with few exceptions, this is something of a stellar achievement.
The most consistent positive that carries over from Osborn Identity is, of course, Stuart Immonen as the series penciller. With Giuseppe Camuncoli off for a holiday to pencil Charles Soule’s Darth Vader, I think it’s safe to say that while he may be missed, I’m more than happy to keep Immonen as the title’s artist. He’s A) Anatomically correct, B) Visually dynamic and C) Consistent from one issue to the next. Granted, this issue looks a little rushed out, but it’s still a visual delight nonetheless. If anything, blame falls once again on Wade von Grawbadger, our inker, for not managing to check out some of the really awkward faces; but to be fair, there were only a handful of those, so I’m willing to let it slide. If anything, Slott’s choerography of the fight scenes adds to the art, which I appreciate.
This is also one of the few times this volume where Slott has managed to display Peter as a slightly competent CEO. Notice that SHIELD’s contract made PArker Industries a little complacent, and after ties severing following the Osborn Identity, he needs to step up to the plate and be a better CEO for his company. While I noticed that Anna Maria had more than plenty to do with that, it was a nice touch that Peter is finally, after multiple instances of ducking out on multi-billion dollars worth of meetings, working to rectify his mistakes. It’s just a shame it took this long for Peter under Slott’s pen to come to this level of self-awareness.
As always, Slott seems to have the most fun writing Dock Ock. And while this isn’t a surprise, it’s always a treat to see Doc Ock act like a cartoon character, but have Slott act like this is a socially acceptable way of life. And I made this point back in my review of Amazing Spider-Man #12, self-awareness of your own flaws does not equal clever wit. It’s a rule I have broken countless times (Both in my own videos and writings) and I willingly admit this. But Slott’s semi-ignorance to his own flaws, acting as though he’s making these remarks without regard that he’s the one who had to write these flaws in the first place, is sort of endearing but also kind of disheartening. But, that said, Ock is still a blast to read if not for his over-the-top dialogue, as well as his close ties to Parker Industries making him the ideal (if only) choice to bring Parker Industries crashing down.
Secret Empire is, in a strange twist, the perfect way to wrestle Parker Industries out of the picture. If Slott has done anything right this volume, it’s to set up the failure (Which, in some capacity, is just another excuse for Slott to drag Peter through the muck) of Parker Industries as a company. HYDRA infiltration, combined with blowing up the international branches of the city, and blaming them for the Darkforce bubble over NYC, is something I actually didn’t see coming, and I give Slott a lot of credit for this. It also does a good job, if a late one, of explaining how the public sees the HYDRA-guided events explained to them. For once, it’s a tie-in done right, unlike what’s happened in recent event comics. (Civil War II)
For once in a very, very long time, I felt fun coming over me when reading a Slott-written Spider-Man comic. It’s been a while, but I think the right amount of things came together to create something great, if not simply for the satisfaction of seeing Peter lose Parker Industries.
It also helps that I followed up on Mark’s suggestion and drew the stapler HYDRA goon. And I slapped it together in like 10 minutes in the backseat of a Ford Escape, so apologies for the slightly-haphazard linework.
Final Grade: A-