Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #31

Hail Hydra, Crawlspacers!  Well, Spidey’s in a pickle to say the least.  I’m sure, though, that he will find a way to save the day, beat Ock, and get a new product out of it.

The Devil in the Details

Story Title: End of an Empire

Writer: Dan Slott

Penciler: Stuart Immonen

Inker: Wade von Grawbadger

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: August 9, 2017


Remedial ASM 101

Just to catch you up, here is what has happened: Hydra, led by Hydra agent Captain America, has successfully defeated all the heroes and dent them running away.  Spidey left the heroes and went off to save his last company in Shanghai from Superior Hydra Ock.  Using every Spider gadget and vehicle he has against Ock, Ock just turns the tables and takes control of them all using some backdoor access he installed while working at PI as the Living Brain.


The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test

Reveling in his victory, Ock starts monologuing.  Spider-Man bemoans how helpless he is.  Lian bemoans how helpless she is.  Aunt May decides to go in there and set everything straight.  Spidey changes into Peter Parker and tells his workers his master plan to save them from Superior Hydra Ock:

Soon, everyone’s Web  Ware begins to shut down and deleting all of their photos, contacts, and Candy Crush apps.  Aunt May does not approve.

Plus she’s looking pretty old in this issue.  I guess Immonen hasn’t gotten the word yet that the comics are supposed to mimic the MCU.  They’ll set him straight soon enough.

Lian’s mom, however, says she has faith that she has raised her daughter, so she is not worried about her fighting the “great American super villain”.  Not to be outdone by a minor side character, Aunt May decides to have faith in her nephew.

Ock is furious that PI has wiped every bit of data so he decides to use an EMP to not just disable the Spider-Armor, but to shred it completely and simultaneously giving us our Onomatopoeia of the Issue!


On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 9.  A Z and three Xs?  We expect no less in a major issue like this!

But Spidey has his old suit on underneath (thank goodness, otherwise we’d have another web diaper issue) and Slott saves Immonen a bit by making an Underoos reference, so Feige will be sated, for now.

Somehow, Spider-Man managed to shield one electronic device from the blast (How? Don’t ask questions!) and in turns uses a frequency designed to overtake Ock’s arms.  Ock swings away (yes, a la Spider-Man style, although his webs look like Venom gunk and they go Thwep! Instead) and ditches his arms and mask so that Spidey cannot find him.  And since Spider-Man forgot that he used to find and fight a guy who can change his face to look like anyone, he gives up saying that there is no way to find Ock because he doesn’t know what he looks like.  Aunt May reminds Spider-Man that he is needed in the major Marvel event and that he should leave.  Meanwhile Ock is back with Hydra and humiliated to only be a “mere lackey” instead of ruling his own empire.

What Passed:

No more Spider-Mobiles.  No more gadgets.  No more spider-armor (no more glowing blue spider). No more Parker Industries.  No more globetrotting. No more Uncle Ben Foundation to put Aunt May up against S.H.I.E.L.D.

What Failed:

Despite this being a major battle for the status quo of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, it seems more of a story about Ock, Aunt May, and the Shanghai supporting cast.


Slott has done an excellent job here of working in the major event crossover to his story arc.  It feels like a natural progression of his current stories rather than an intrusive insert as many tie ins in the past have felt.  The end of Parker Industries has been promised for a long time and as a result, when it comes, I’m more relieved that it is finally over than shocked and excited for the story.  The long game cuts both ways.  While it can really be interesting to see events from a few years ago come to fruition later, it can also just wear out your audience.  Add to that the fact that I’ve been ready to get rid of PI for so long that I am rooting for Ock.  Parker destroying everything is a mixed bag for me.  Part of me feels like he should have been able to save something, but the other part of me is happy that this prevents any going back.  If Ock had won the company, it would be on Peter to try and win it back, thus giving us another ten years of that arc.  This way, not only is the company gone, but no investor in their right mind is going to back another move by Parker to build another company.  My biggest fear here is that once everyone sues Peter for the loss of their data, photos, equipment, investment money, etc., they’ll start writing him like they did after the “death” of Mary Jane – homeless and a moron.

I can’t put my finger on it, but this issue just lacks a kick for me, which is insane since it was the big arc resolve.  Maybe it was the missing Gage.  I think Slott’s ideas are much better when framed by whatever it is that Gage does when he co-writes a story.

Extra Credit #1:

Who is this? I’m not up on my Hydra characters and I don’t want to waste my vacation time looking it up I want you to enjoy the thrill of research.


Extra Credit #2:

I believe this is the final list we have of web cartridges:

Cartridge #3 – acid webbing

Cartridge #6 – micro-coiled z-metal

Cartridge #7 – quick drying wet cement webbing

Cartridge #8 – expanding web foam

OK, assuming that #1 is regular webbing and #8 is the last one, we never got to find out what was in #2, #4, or #5.  So, either I missed something, in which case you point it out for extra credit, or you come up with your best idea for what should have been in one of those unknown cartridges.  I, for one, wished to see some of that slither webbing we saw in Fantastic Four Annual #1.


Final Grade:

It has what I’ve been wanting to happen for a 3o issues now, but it just seems lacking punch.



Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?  Leave either your grade or your grade and reasoning in the comments below


What’s Next?

  • Norman Osborn’s goblin-free battle with Spidey didn’t go the way he had hoped…
  • Now, Osborn needs to find an edge and get the Goblin back, and neither you nor Spidey are ready for the edge he’s going to find!
  • Guest artist Greg Smallwood (MOON KNIGHT) joins Dan Slott for this special issue that sets off the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN event of 2018!


Oh joy.  The Green Goblin.   Again.  Another Spider-EVENT.  Again.

‘Nuff Said!

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(30) Comments

  1. Evan

    @Hornacek -- Just had another Daredevil moment: Hadley is in there, too! (He's Frank Castle's character witness.) "Hadley!"

  2. Evan

    @Mark Alford and Hornacek: Hahaha! *spits coffee on monitor* Hornacek quoting the Shawshank Redemption? Everyone here is innocent here, don't you know that?

  3. xonathan

    @hornacek Lol. I' ll leave the Simpsons joke to you @mark Alford What's a Shawshank Redemption?

  4. Masked Guy

    @ Mark Alford- Well said. Out of my many gripes with Parker Industries, my biggest would have to be the fact that Peter himself had nothing to do with the creation or success of his own company; it was all Dr. Octopus. In fact, Peter has actually been shown to be a very incompetent CEO throughout the entire volume. From ducking out of important board meetings to constantly misusing his resources to his employees consistently reminding him that his decisions will likely cost him his company, Peter hasn't at all looked like the genius he is supposed to be throughout the duration of this storyline. We the readers kept being told by Dan Slott and Marvel that this was Peter Parker/Spider-Man "living up to his full potential", but I actually think he has been written more immature and inept than ever.

  5. Jack

    I think Scorpio has spent the year studying "How to Be an Even Faintly Interesting Bad Guy." Hppe it works out for him.

  6. Mark Alford

    Xonathan is back! That's good! Hornacek just downvoted him. That's bad. Hornacek didn't make a Shawshank Redemption quote! That's good! Xonathan will probably start quoting it to get on Hornacek's good side. That's bad. Can I go now?

  7. hornacek

    @xonathan If this was Disqus I would have downvoted that post for not following up the "potassium benzoate" line with "(pause) Can I go now?" Also, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" Nick Spencer and not "Cap is a Nazi" Nick Spencer.

  8. xonathan

    Let's keep with the Simpsons jokes "Slott is bowing out after 800..." "That's good!" "....and Nick Spencer is coming in. " "That's bad." "But it comes with a free yogurt!" "That's good." "The yogurt is also cursed." "That's bad." "But you get your choice of toppings." "That's good!" "The toppings contain potassium benzoate." "That's bad."

  9. hornacek

    @Jack "just stock sitcom characters"??? How dare you! The staff at Horizon Labs were fully realized characters! There was the boss - he was gay and had a moustache! There was the kid whose parents named him after a pan-dimensional being who lived on the moon who the majority of the Marvel universe would not have any knowledge of! There was Grady Scraps! He invented time travel! (and I just found out that was his actual name - I was sure that was a nickname that Chris had made up on the podcast) There was Sanjani! She was a bitch to Peter for reasons! You know what? Upon reflection, I retract my previous statement.

  10. Jack

    Spider-Man going "worldwide" meant that no one site and no one group of employees ever received enough attention for us to care about any of them. The Horizon Lab crew was comparatively more developed, and they were just stock sitcom characters.

  11. hornacek

    @Mark Alford "You can stop shaking your fist. I'm quite sure that I'm older than everyone here except JR. I'm just jealous you guys still have memories...." Um, after my first appearance on the call-in show, J.R. said of me "He sounds old!"

  12. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Jack - Thank goodness for Anna Marconi, huh? :) I think you hit the nail on the head with the lacking the build up needed to pull the emotional punch for the fall of Parker Industries. Instead of a "No!" moment, it was a "Finally!" moment. I think this is a shame because I think Slott has great ideas and I know he can write great stories, but there always seemed to be something missing or distracting. Speaking of the Scorpio guy, wasn't he only thrust into the future one year? Where did he go? Did I miss his return or are we supposed to just assume that S.H.I.E.L.D. has it taken care of?

  13. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Masked Guy - I don't mind exploring a successful businessman Peter Parker, but like you stated, it didn't seem to garner enough interest, at for many of us. I think this was for two reasons: 1. It was a bit too much like Iron Man and not enough like Peter Parker, and 2. it's been too long since we had a reset to normal. This chances to explore stories out of the norm for a character are great as a chance to be different, but when we are always different, we lose the core of what makes that character the character we love. @ Sthenurus - I believe that is exactly what will happen. We will be on legacy numbers soon and I think that Slott is bowing out after 800 and Nick Spencer is coming in. That could be good or bad. I guess it all rests on if Spencer is wanting to make his mark by telling traditional stories or if wants to make his mark by telling Spider-Man stories that have never been told before (Spider-Man Space Knight! Microverse Spider-Man! Spider-Man mutates and gains new powers! Spider-Man Wife Beater! (Oh wait, that one's been done already)). @ Hornacek - You can stop shaking your fist. I'm quite sure that I'm older than everyone here except JR. I'm just jealous you guys still have memories....

  14. Jack

    @Mark: If this was a CW superhero show, Anna Maria would reveal some alternative lifestyle, all the principals would make stupid mistakes for no good reasons, and the series would feature the same type of bad-guy three volumes in a row, while abandoning the qualities that made it a success at its beginning. Hunh. 3 out of 4. P.S. I imagine that bit with Peter thanking them for building the company up, and now it's time to tear it all down, is meant to be a dramatic and emotional high point. Except we never witnessed Peter building up the company alongside anyone. What we saw was Peter being incompetent and distracted, his nothing-burger girlfriend tried to kill him (the one he shouldn't have been dating anyway, because of HR ethical rules), an annoying Chinese scientist acted prickly toward him, and one of his board members turned out to be Scorpio. That moment is pretty damp compared to, say, a story where Adama would blow up the Galactica, or Jack Bauer burn down the CTU.

  15. Sthenurus

    Oh good, hopefully it means slott is "putting the toys back in the box" to allow another writer to step in and bring a breath of fresh air to the franchise

  16. Masked Guy

    This was definitely the best story arc of the current volume, though that really isn't saying much. I can't feel sad that Parker Industries ended because nothing interesting has been done with it in my opinion. Still, Dan Slott does write a really good Doc Ock (even if their final fight here was a little anti-climactic), so I'll say this was a decent story overall.

  17. hornacek

    @Mark Alford - That YouTube video to make mini-earmuffs, I couldn't do that because it involves pipe-cleaners and I won't buy anything that perpetuates people smoking a pipe. "You guys and your memories! It's all about the present you old fogies!" (shakes fist at Mark Alford, looks at young boy standing next to me) Shake harder, boy!

  18. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Jack and Hornacek - You guys and your memories! It's all about the present you old fogies! @ Jack - at least Spider-Man doesn't take place on the CW. We'd have issues and issues on how it is all his fault and he is not worthy to be a hero and nobody should be around him because he just brings destruction to everyone. No Rebecca London and Bobbi Morse - stay away from me. I'll only bring you pain.

  19. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Evan - Don't mention _Attack of the Killer Tomatoes_ around Hornacek - He's been knitting little earmuffs for his tomatoes and staging photos of him with them for Facebook. So we have a character that is created by Slott and developed by Gage that works for PI and is all about manipulating frequencies. No stories for him. We get rid of the character and now everyone is defeated by using frequencies. What? I'm beginning to believe that Clash might be the most powerful individual in the universe! Oh no! Thanos has the Infinity Gauntlet again. No worries, we'll alter the frequencies those things work on and viola! I completely missed the whole ink thing. That is perfect. I liked the look of it before and I like it even better now. By the way, Wikipedia is spot on accurate unless you are looking up pop culture references. Sure, anyone can post on it, but so many people scour that site looking for errors, that you are going to find too many problems in an octopus ink page. I read one study that found it out performed Encyclopedia Britannica in subjects like Dark Matter and other history and science issues. Pop culture topics were a whole different issue. So, as a teacher, I not only forgive you, but applaud you.* *This comment post sponsored by Wikimedia, Inc.

  20. Jack

    Anybody remember when villains other than Otto Octavius had distinctive personalities and motives?

  21. hornacek

    Hey, anyone else remember when a villain would appear for an issue or two in ASM, and then you wouldn't see them for a year because a variety of other villains would appear in subsequent issues? Slott doesn't.

  22. Evan

    Peter plays an anti-Ock frequency? Why didn't he use that earlier? I guess the plot didn't call for it, huh? Wasn't there also an anti-zombie-clone frequency used in Dead No More? I think maybe Dan Slott has been watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Maybe the "thwep" webbing is supposed to be like octopus ink. As a teacher, please don't judge my use of a Wikipedia page for purposes of convenience, but this is the first sentence in the entry: "Cephalopod ink is a dark pigment released into water by most species of cephalopod, usually as an escape mechanism." I guess that would be consistent with Ock's escape, even if there was no water involved. (Incidentally, the first result for an image search shows a dish called Squid Ink Pasta With Scallops -- seriously. I thought maybe this was a plausible illustration of how the ink could be used as "webbing," and then I realized it was actually pasta.)

  23. Jack

    If they depict the world being mad at Peter, it will be another example of how Marvel makes the MU citizens intensely stupid as a way to make stories move forward. PI's invasion of Symkaria was illegal and ridiculous, true. But if the world knew that Peter did that in order to keep everyone's personal and business/technological information out of the hands of terrorists, and to thwart the fforts of a man (Ock) who tried to burn them all to crisp two years earlier, normal people would applaud Peter for doing what he could, and (since we know HYDRA is going to lose), credit Peter for being a patriot, and forgive him. Instead, Marvel is going to have their stupid world stupidly blame Peter for doing good things that everyone could see were for good reasons.

  24. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Mr. Fig - Bonus points for you - to the head of the class! @ Phantom Roxas - You know, I struggled with the "lazy" ending you mentioned, but in the end, I'm OK with it because I want to be done with PI and this is the fastest way to make that happen. I do hope we won't be won't be subjected to issue after issue of people being angry with Peter. I know it is the logical reaction, but I just want to move on. Issue 25? Well, dern. I reviewed that issue and still couldn't remember that chap. :(

  25. Phantom Roxas

    "You've been acting like an inferior copy" YOU ARE A CLONE How much of Otto's dialogue is just going to be rehashing the "superior" dynamic? We get it, Slott, you had fun writing Superior Spider-Man. And seriously, after all this, Otto just gets away? That is… REMARKABLY lazy. I'm surprised Lian showed up, but really, this story was mostly just for destroying Secret Empire, and then we can move on. (By the way, for the extra credit, that's Armin Zola, who had recruited the Superior Octopus back in ASM #25) Slott claimed that this arc would set up future stories, but what much is there beyond people being disappointed and angry with Peter for completely destroying Parker Industries and all the tech and data from it, and Nazi Clone-Clone SpOck getting away?

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