Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #794

One year ago, shortly after Spider-Man jumped off a satellite and landed in Paris, he knocked Scorpio one year into the future. Poor guy, he missed Clone Conspiracy, Civil War II, The Osborn Identity, and Venom Inc. So what’s waiting for him now? Read on, friends, and find out!


The Devil in the Details

Story Title: Threat Level Red Part 1: Last Chance
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: January 24, 2018

Remedial ASM 101

Just to catch you up, here is what has happened: Scorpio, fearless leader of the Zodiac, was using a device powered by his Zodiac key to see a year into the future and then make business and political dealings with that knowledge. So Spidey knocked him into device, sending him one year into the future and gave the Zodiac key to S.H.I.E.L.D. for safe keeping. It is now one year later.

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

Apparently S.H.I.E.L.D. is dismantled now? So some private organization is tasked with keeping potentially world destroying devices safe and is doing it on a public school-sized budget – what could go wrong there? Well, as one bad guys say in the opening pages, you get what you pay for and a couple of goons from Osborn start chucking pumpkin bombs everywhere in order to steal something. As they are in an underwater base (I like to think it is the same base that flooded in the “If This Be My Destiny” arc), that turns out to be a bad idea. In all the mayhem, the Zodiac Key gets released.

Meanwhile Spidey, Mockingbird, Anna Marconi, and some guys from Horizon University are waiting by the portal for Zodiac to return. When he does, their carefully(?) laid plan go awry as the key flies into his hands and he escapes to… Big Ben.

Apparently he had the foresight to put a Zodiac key docking station placed into the iconic landmark so that he can send current codes and passwords. Spidey saves the day by chucking Scorpio threw the face of Big Ben.
Meanwhile, the agents that caused this whole problem in the Lock Box deliver their payload to their boss and we see Norman Osborn holding a container with the Carnage symbiote.

What Passed:

The way Spidey solved the problem. The Zodiac key needs to upload to satellites. Spidey needs to stop it, but only has seconds. He can’t disconnect the power supply. He is not strong enough to dislodge the key with his hands. So, knowing that the key is programmed to save Scorpio, he just shoves Scorpio off the clock. If this failed, Scorpio would have died. This tough, I’m going to get the job done no matter what approach is something that we have not seen much of from Spidey lately.

Since Mockingbird knocks him out after the key saves him, some may say that once again another hero saves the day in ASM, but her role is so small compared to the role Spider-Man plays in this that she does a supporting character should.

There were a couple of onomatopoeias to choose from for this issue’s OOTI. But this one wins out.

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 9.

What Failed:

Not really a lot. There was nothing that really offended my sensibilities, but there was little that really got me going (other than the Big Ben ending). The biggest take away was that Marvel already spoiled the surprise Carnage reveal before I read the issue. Had I not known that was coming, it would have been a lot more impactful.


This book isn’t bad, but it feels like maybe Slott treated this much like Spidey did – out of sight out of mind. Slott loves playing the long game and slipping in bits here and there to set up a story three years later; however, once we moved away from the Zodiac arc in issue 10, no set up for this return seems to have been laid. On top of that, Spider-Man seems to have just put it out of his mind. I imagine he has a Google calendar reminder set for this. S.H.I.E.L.D. is dismantled (I guess?) and nothing has been prepared from them. For that matter, Zodiac hasn’t been setting up for his return? Seems like they should be there to help him. Instead he just pops out, grabs the key that he and his organization had no part in liberating, and runs off alone. Just seemed anti-climatic to me. Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. had already rounded up all of Zodiac’s men, but these are hardened world-wide criminal spies. I would think they would have something prepared.

All in all, the story is really just a set up to get to Slott’s bigger story – the Red Goblin. That’s not a critique, just an observation. As a break from six issue arcs with tie-ins, this one shot is a nice change and reminiscent of ‘80s when you could pick up any issue and read a story and move on. So, that was nice.

I don’t think there will be any follow up on this, but this Lock Box breech could open up possibilities for several storylines in this or other comics. One of the agents makes this comment:

This is one thing that Slott is really good at – creating story ideas. This is a story starter generator for any writer to use. Again, I think this will be the last time we ever hear of the Lock Box, but the potential is there.

We may be seeing the foundation for a Mockingbird/Spider-Man break up. If he continues to go hard core in taking down villains (which is probable if we have a Carnage Goblin coming up – we already have seen Spidey lose it when fighting Osborn), she may have some issues with that. She seemed to disapprove his method of throwing Scorpio to his death to dislodge the key.

After getting several name allusions in Slott and Gage’s run (my favorite still being Burke and Hare the Resurrection Men in Dead No More), I searched everywhere from Agent Coleman, Agent Krane, and Commander Hicks, three of the guys found in the opening pages. I failed to find any meaningful references. I tweeted both Slott and Gage, and Gage responded, “I actually didn’t name them specifically, I think that was Dan or someone in editorial.” That brings up an interesting concept – how often does editorial step in and change names and other story elements? I would have thought that it would be something that they may suggest, but the tweet makes it sound as if they sometimes go in and change things. Maybe I’ll have to do more research into what an editor actually does.

Extra Credit:

Extra credit goes to anyone who explains the bonus pages to me. I know it is a preview for an upcoming Wolverine story, but I don’t know what is going on in Wolverine at the moment and I don’t see myself putting more money into my comic book budget just to find out. I will say that I do like that they tailored it to the story I just read rather than just make it a generic ad. That is a nice touch.

Final Grade:

Not Wow! and not Ugh! I’ll take it in light of the recent Venom, Inc.


Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?

What’s Next?

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?! Spidey pays the Sanctum Sanctorum a visit looking for a consult from the Master of the Mystic arts, Doctor Stephen Strange…but finds himself face-to-face with the Master of Mischief and new Sorcerer Supreme — LOKI LAUFEYSON! And he’s even MORE charming than in the movies! Don’t believe us? Read this one and find out for yourself!



‘Nuff Said!

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(11) Comments

  1. Know-it-All Vic

    @Mark AlfordYou weren't necessarily wrong in your previous assumption. It is rare, but there are a few artists who still like to "go the extra mile" and actually draw the sound effects in.Case in point, RB Silva (who did some brief work on ASM Vol. 4). If you go to his Instagram page, you'll find some (digitally) pencilled sound effects (here's one ), and you can also see that on his inker's page (here's another: ).However, nowadays, it is the most common practice for the letterer to take these duties over.

  2. Marcus Alford

    Let me echo what Know-It-All-Vic just shared with us. This link: is fantastic for understanding the lettering process. Evan, my sole OOTI supporter, would be interested in knowing that the letterer makes the onomatopoeia visual. I knew the writer made it up, but always assumed the artist drew it in, sine it is often part of the art. However, it it is the letterer that adds in the writer's sound effect. Awesome. Thanks Vic! You truly are a know-it-all!

  3. Victor

    @Mark AlfordI finally have a nickname! Thank you, sir =)Regarding Anna Marconi, I think Immonen did a good job with her in the Fall of Parker Industries arc, especially when she's coaching Peter through his interview. But then again, I've only been reading Spidey regularly again since Clone Conspiracy, so I don't really have that much of a familiarity with the character's design.While I don't really know much about lettering, too, I have to agree with @Shaun that Caramagna is one of the better letterers working today, because you don't really notice his work. It just integrates really well with the flow, tone and visuals of the page, it is very clear to understand and he manages to stay out of the art's way, for the most part. (If you'd like to see the exact opposite of this, check out Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting, the preludes for DC: Metal; it was the first time comic lettering really bothered me)Although he does break this "rule" of lettering from time to time: can find more tips like that one (and learn a little more about comic lettering in the process) here: get paid absolutely nothing by "advertising" this, but I like to share these bits of knowledge when I come upon them)

  4. Mark Alford

    @ Shawn - I'm curious. I really know nothing about lettering, so what is it that you are seeing that is good about the lettering?

  5. Shaun Austin Martineau

    Carmagna is just killing it with lettering over Immonen. They should really stick together more often.

  6. Joshua Nelson

    @Mark Alford Just further proof that Dan Slott is spinning his wheels until his removal from the title at issue #801.

  7. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Victor - You're correct, sir. Vol. 3 #11 was during Spider-Verse and that was way before this. I guess "Know-it-all Nick" doesn't know as much as "Know It All Vic"!OK, that was a bad one. But Nick does refer to himself as "Know It All Nick" in that editor's box that says vol. 3.As far as the art goes, I agree, it was good per usual, except for Anna Marconi. I meant to put that into the post. For some reason, it is very hard for artists to draw her looking right.

  8. Mark Alford - Post author

    @ Joshua Nelson - I never even thought about that! As long as he doesn't have his key, they shouldn't have needed a cannon! A good dose of webbing could have done the same thing.

  9. Victor

    Speaking of editorial, on the page that establishes Spidey and the Horizon team in England, we see a dialogue box explaining when Scorpio was thrown into the future. The box says "ASM Vol. 3 #11", but wasn't that Volume 4?Furthermore, I'm not sure if it was Immonen's decision or the script called for it, but it really bothered me having only distant shots of Scorpio for the first couple pages of his return (since I never read Vol. 4, I couldn't tell what his appearance - suit and face - was actually like during the first bits of that confrontation).All in all, the artwork was really good (which is par for the course with Immonen), especially the Osborn pages, and the story didn't offend me (but didn't excite me, also).I'd go with a B-.

  10. Joshua Nelson

    So Scorpio is so powerful that Horizon Labs has to build a massive energy canon just to slow him down, but then he is tossed out of a window like a rag doll by Spider-Man and taken out with one punch by Mockingbird--a character that isn't even super-powered.It's that level of effort and efficiency we've come to expect from you, Mr. Slott.

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