Hail Hydra! Cap’s got Thor’s hammer, Ock’s going after Parker Industries, and Aunt May is getting the shake down by TSA. With all of this going on, we are left with one nagging question – will Spidey find time for love? Read on, dear Cupids, and let’s find out together!
The Devil in the Details
Story Title: Master Planning
Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: July 12, 2017
Remedial ASM 101
Parker Industries is not doing so well after Peter accessed everyone’s Webware to stop the Jackal and then used Parker Industries equipment and to launch an attack on the nation of Symkaria to stop Norman Osborn. Now Ock, who is aligned with Hydra, is systematically taking out PI building by building. He demolished the London office building and has encased the Manhattan Island in ebon energy emitting from the Parker Industries building there. All that is left to save is the San Francisco and the Shang Hai office. To make matters worse, Hydra is attacking the United States and, if you having been following Secret Empire, Spidey sums it up on the first page of this comic when he says:
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test
We pick up this issue where FCBD left off with Cap hefting Mjölnir in the air. Spider-Man takes action by getting everyone to retreat. Once he establishes that he is responsible and takes control in situations like this, he shares a moment with Mockingbird and leaves to take care of his business.
Hydra Ock goes to San Francisco which is now an autonomous mutant city-state. He informs (X-Factor?) that they will be able to stay left alone as long as they give Ock free access to the Parker Industries building there. Strong Guy (Guido) opposes, but after Ock tosses him a few blocks away, the others step aside. He takes everything of any value and remarks that he thought Spider-Man would be there to cause problems.
So where is the webhead? Making his stand in Shang Hai. Peter tries to rally the troops, but many leave. Eventually, Ock shows up to take that building. Spider-Man calls on all the building to respond so that he can outnumber Ock only to find that Ock is so deeply embedded into Parker Industries, that he not only controls all the Spider-vehicles, but *gasp* the logo as well! How diabolical! (Cue Hornacek’s slippery monocle and martini glass.)
Doc Ock casually throws Strong Guy around, but Guido has been known to take down some powerful hitters. Which one of these entities has Strong Guy taken down before?
d. Squirrel Girl
Click the image to see the answer.
The title – “Master Planning” is a nice nod back to Ock’s Master Planner days.
Spidey taking charge – I don’t like Spider-Man being a team player, per se, but even without having read Secret Empire, you can tell that the heroes have been thoroughly whupped. Many of them hanging around are the young guns, so it is up to Spidey to get their act together and save their collective rear ends. The dialogue works great in this situation: “He’s the man who never gives up! Never wavers! He always finds a way! Yeah, guess what? So am I!”
The art – again. I’m no artist so it is difficult for me to comment on what exactly works or doesn’t work and I certainly cannot discern between the artist and the inker like many can, but I do know what I like. Almost every panel works for me here and I can recognize characters without the dialogue having to tell me who is who. I love this art.
There are only seven onomatopoeias in this whole issue.
On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), FASSH rates a 3. I gave it an extra point since I never thought about he sound a headlight makes when it turns on. I would have thought it would be something only Heimdall could hear.
Secret Empire – I’m not disrespecting Secret Empire. I like the idea of Hydra Cap (not permanently, mind you). However, I hate tie-ins. Slott has a story he wants to tell but is hampered by having to weave Spider-Man into the main battle. I think Slott and Gage do a great job getting past this, but a tie-in, while it may sell better, hurts a story more times than not.
Spider-strength enhancing spider-armor – I guess it should be obvious that his new suit does this, but it just seems so unnecessary. Spider-Man is already super strong. However, I’m willing to forgive it since I think this was needed to explain another plot point (more on that later).
We have a Slott Ock story and that usually means that it is going to be one his better stories. In that regard, it is well written. The issue itself is just setting up pieces for a bigger story and will probably do every well in trade form. The pieces it is setting up, however, are fun reads. Let’s look at them:
- The Proto-clone – we now know that it has spider-powers. I assume this means the whole package, spider-sense and all. I’m fine with that. Sure, it’s another spider-themed individual running around, so some will not like it for that, but Ock isn’t running around with a spider on his chest and shooting webs everywhere.
- Ock’s control of all Parker Tech – Slott is slowly making steps to put all of Peter Parker back to status quo. So Peter’s already in hot water for accessing others webware and invading Symkaria. Now he’s having to face the whole ebon energy thing going on in Manhattan. On top of that, Ock has access to anything made by Parker Industries, so basically Peter has inadvertently exposed his customers to Ock’s machinations.
- Ock’s control of Parker Tech spider-gadgets – So Ock can control all of the Spider-Mobiles and such, making them all completely useless to Spider-Man. This is another step in the resetting of Spider-Man. The big question this leaves is, does Ock have control of the Spider-Armor? My thoughts – no. Here’s why – Ock seems to be surprised when Spider-Man is stronger than his mechanical arms. Now this can be because he does NOT have access to the armor tech, or that is a new addition that he doesn’t know about yet, or that he’s faking it to give Spider-Man a false sense of security, but I think it is because he doesn’t have access to that yet. Of course, Normal Norman still took out the armor with a small EMP pulse, so I’m thinking the Spider-Armor is short for this world.
- Aunt May – She reveals here that for her, the success of Parker Industries is a tribute not only t her nephew, but also to the memory of Jonah Jameson, Sr. and Ben Parker. When the company falls, her disappointment in Peter may be a big story factor.
- Ock’s ties with Hydra – From the way the San Francisco mutants were reacting, their deal with Hydra had no mention of the Parker Industries building. This confirms what I would assume to be Ock’s motivation here. He could care less about Hydra as long as he gets his goals accomplished. Once Hydra’s goals and Ock’s goals are no longer in line, then I imagine Ock will turn on his partners. To me, Ock is playing the role of Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark. He doesn’t care about the Nazi agenda as long as he can get his hands on the ark.
- Spider-Man and Mockingbird kiss – Many are going to be upset with this. I am not. Arguments against this union come from two areas – 1. This doesn’t fit Bobbi’s character, age, etc. Good point and if I was a Mockingbird fan and invested in the character, I would probably agree. But I’m not, so the idea that she would have feelings for her partner doesn’t bother me. Spider-Man is supposed to be with Mary Jane. I agree wholeheartedly. I love the marriage and hate the way it was undone. I completely believe that eventually she will return. MJ sells too much to keep her out of the book. That day may be soon or it may be years away. In the meantime, I have no problems with Spidey pursuing a romantic partner. He has a history of dating women between his on and off relationship with MJ. To continue this is keeping the character true to form.That said, I also do not think this relationship with last. They’ll make a go at it, but this time, instead of Spider-Man coming between the love bird, it will be Peter Parker that comes between them. Whatever the case, we’ll have Spider-Man feeling like he is a loser because he can’t keep a girlfriend. The interesting thing is going to be if they try to coordinate this with the Rebecca London story that will develop in PPTSSM or if the two will just exist independently of each other.
On top of all this, the comic addresses one of the problems this series has had since Big Time –
And brings to focus the problem I think most people who have problems with the current have – it’s not that we mind change, big story events, Spider-Man doing things different than he would normally do, new supporting cast members, or other heroes and characters constantly saving the day. A look at the top 50 list would show that we quite often like stories that break from the status quo. Here is the problem – stories that break from the status quo works best when there is a status quo to break from. For a decade now, we’ve gotten stories that are far away from what many of us grew up with from the ’60s to the ’90s. We have not had a reset, so to speak, since Civil War. Peter being out of character doesn’t bother me as long as I get him back in character for a while. Many of Slott’s ideas are, in my opinion, brilliant. The problem for me is that I’m not getting the regular stories between the big ones. So here either Slott or Gage points out that Spider-Man doesn’t save the day in his own book any more. Is this possibly a nod that this going to be ending as we get rid of PI and stuff, but it could equally be a way of brushing off criticism of this approach.
Enjoyable read, lots of things to think about, and good character development.
What keeps it from being an A- is the fact that it I a tie in issue and one that is setting up the events for another story.
What grade do YOU give it?
SECRET EMPIRE TIE-IN!
- On orders from Captain America, the Superior Octopus is taking the fight to Parker Industries.
- Peter must use the full force of his company to stop Ock and Hydra, but WILL IT BE ENOUGH?!
Will it be enough? Of course not! What is the power of the company if Ock is integrated into all of its tech?