Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #795

In a nod to Ditko, Spidey is paired up with Dr. Strange, er… sort of.  It appears that the Norse god of mischief is the new Dark Arts professor in the Marvel universe now.  What sort of hi-jinks will these two get themselves into?  Read on, friends and see!

Plus we get a new Threat Level Red color scheme in the review!

The Devil in the Details

Story Title: Threat Level Red Part 2: The Favor

Writer: Dan Slott and Christos Gage

Penciler: Mike Hawthorne

Inker: Terry Pallot

Colorist: Marte Gracia

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: Feb. 7, 2018


Remedial ASM 101

Peter’s poor again and working at the Daily Bugle while sleeping on the couch of his girlfriend, Mockingbird.  Meanwhile, Norman Osborn has obtained the Carnage symbiote.


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

Apparently he is not sleeping on the couch of his girlfriend as we start with Peter looking for a new apartment and seems to think that she is now his ex (he is very unclear about this).  His new apartment is little more than a hall with a window.  Just as Peter gets to work, he gets summoned by Dr. Strange, who is no other than Loki! For reasons I don’t care about since I don’t follow Dr. Strange.  Apparently Loki owes Spidey a favor.  Meanwhile, over lunch, Bobbi tells May that she and Peter broke up mostly due to the fact that they don’t like spending time together.  Back at Bleecker Street, Spidey breaks a pot holding some Fire Wasps.  In their quest to round them all up, Spidey almost kills Bobbi and May by knocking one right into the diner they are having lunch in.

One stranger does die and Spidey calls in the favor that Loki owes him to turn back time to right before he broke the vase in order to save that life, turning down the offer to go back to his full wealth status.  Using his new time, Spidey goes off to the diner to meet with Bobbi and May.  Loki reveals to the reader that this was all a ploy to remove the favor he owes Spidey.  All ends with Osborn bonding with the Carnage symbiote and learning that it is too powerful for him to control.


What Passed:

The pacing – this story follows the same set-up as most of the comics in the ‘80s.  It can be picked up and read without being a part three of six (despite the title).  It also has subplots that continue the ongoing story and setting up future stories.  Spidey’s banter with Loki also felt like I was reading a Spider-Man comic.

Acknowledgment of the Mephisto deal.  Well, to us, at least.  I also like that Peter has some sort of clue that he did something stupid like that.  It lays groundwork for the future if someone wants to/is able to deal with it.

The Alchemax A-Droid phone ad was a nice touch.  I’m glad someone is looking out for all those poor people who invested in Webware phones.

And I love that he is wearing a coat while swinging in the cold.

The end of Spockingbird – not that I really had anything against it, but it seemed as if there was no direction it was going in.  They teased a reverse Black Cat thing for a while, but it just fizzled.

As far as the set up for the Red Goblin goes, my interest is appropriately piqued.


OOTI (Onomatopoeia of the Issue)

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), KRESSHH rates a 5.


What Failed:

While not really a failure, as much as I appreciated the acknowledgement of the Mephisto deal, I didn’t care much for the acknowledgement of the Spider-totem arc.  I’m happy to let that one go the way of Chapter One.

We spent some time pretending that the sorcerer in question was really Dr. Strange until it is revealed that it is Loki.  Would have been more effective if they didn’t say it was Loki on the cover.  People like me who don’t follow Dr. Strange would have been mildly surprised.  I don’t feel it is fair to blame Slott or Gage for that, though, as I am pretty sure they have little to say over what gets put on the cover.



Now that we are in the last throes of Slott’s run, we can see that there is a checking off of things that Slott did to change the character.  My assumption is that Slott is resetting the franchise so that no one else will come after him and do so, saving him from articles about how his ideas were so bad, that X new writer had to change them as soon as he/she arrived, or keeping other from messing up what he worked hard at establishing.  I don’t blame him or criticize him for either.  Just an observation

Parker Industries is no more – check!

Peter is poor – check!

Spidey is no longer dating Mockingbird – check!

Norman is going crazy again – check!

Peter’s at the Daily Bugle again – check!

The Uncle Ben foundation is closed – check!

Aunt May is old and alone – check!

Scorpio is back from the past – check!

Extra Credit:

We got several editor notes, but for the one that would refer us back to the issue where Loki owes Spidey a favor.  Extra credit to anyone who knows what Spidey did that makes Loki owe him one.


Final Grade:

While I’m not a fan of Dr. Strange, I liked this story.  It felt very ‘80s-ish to me and that always is a good thing.



Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it? You can just put the grade in if you like, or give your own detailed analysis about why I am right.


What’s Next?

We have two of them for you, folks!

Annual #42

Searching for answers about a mysterious voicemail from her late husband, Ned Leeds, Betty Brant finds herself in the midst of a mafia conspiracy that stretches back decades! Convinced that Ned is alive and trying to help her solve the case, Betty enlists the help of the Amazing Spider-Man to get to the truth…and the ENFORCERS want a word with both of ’em! Also includes a short Spidey story by Broadway playwright David Hein (Come From Away)!

ASM # 796

  • You’ve watched for months as Norman Osborn has scoured the globe for a cure to the genetic tampering that prevents him from becoming the Green Goblin.
  • And it spells the worst kind of trouble for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!



‘Nuff Said!

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(8) Comments

  1. Mark Alford - Post author

    @Know-It-All Vic - I love that type of pacing where you get a full story, but there is another longer story also being told. We got that a lot in the '80s. Then the'90s came and it was all crossovers and nonsense. Now we get one story spread out over six issues so that they can do a TPB. It's frustrating.@Jason - I am excited about the Red Goblin too, but mostly because my son is a big Carnage fan, so I'm feeding off of his excitement.I don't know for sure, but I think this may be the first reference that Peter had some knowledge, however vague, that something happened with Mephisto.

  2. Mark Alford - Post author

    @Phantom Roxas - it does feel like a Team-Up title in many ways. Thanks for the nice comments on the checklist. It has felt that way previously, but this issue felt like it so much, I felt I couldn't ignore it. Slott had talked in interviews previously about playing with the toys and then putting them back. I have the feeling that he's determined to get them all back so that nobody else will be able to undo his work. That way when a new writer goes in a different direction, no reviewer or news site will be able to say that they are 'undoing' Slott's work because it stinks.Thumbing the nose to fans or not, Peter throwing away a favor of that magnitude does feel a bit like something '80s Peter would do. But you are right. There was too much fan connection and it was something that wasn't a Slott plot point to wrap up, so any character issue gets lost.

  3. Jason

    Does Peter even have an inkling of life before One More Day? Didn't MJ technically strike up the deal, so wouldn't she have to be the one to reverse it? So there's still a door, cracked open slightly, right?

  4. Jason

    Why does Slott continue to torture us? I guess I should have known better than to think he'd right some wrongs on his way out the door.Wow, two of my favorite villains combining forces. I can't wait to read the next issue.

  5. Know-it-All Vic

    While I disliked the art in this issue, I'd like to not trash the artist (since it's just a matter of personal taste) and, instead, praise Marte Gracia's color work, which is totally different from how he handles Immonen's art and fits quite nicely with Hawthorne's style.Other than that, I also did like how the story felt like something out of the 80s or from Untold Tales, where the main plot was fairly simple, handled entirely in this single issue, while the sub-plots carried the overall story forward. You know, like a soap-opera or a procedural usually do (and I read somewhere that Spidey's comics should be read as one of these).As for Carnage's symbiote bonding with someone else, during the 90s Clone Saga it did bond with John Jameson and then with Ben Reilly for an arc (it wanted to go back to Kasady in the end and I don't quite remember why it escaped in the first place, but anyway... There is a precedent for that, even if it contradicts recent stories).

  6. Phantom Roxas

    Slott has talked about how Marvel Team-Up was his favorite book growing up, and it's especially obvious in this issue.As John Simons noted, the favor was completely wasted here. In particular, the acknowledgment of the Mephisto seems to be a nod to something that's come up on forums, which is that Peter could have "cashed in" on Loki's specifically to help reverse One More Day. So this issue is essentially a team-up to create a contrived opportunity for the favor to be used up, just so it can't be used to undo OMD.I like how this review notes that Slott is essentially putting his toys back in his box, and especially getting rid of everything remotely related to Volume 4 and "Peter Starker". I think that's why the center of this issue is frustrating, because going back to an old JMS plot point extends further beyond his run, and it is hard to look at that and not think that Slott just wanted to get rid of something people were hoping could be a backdoor out of OMD, and he just slams the door shut as if to say "That plot point you were betting your hopes on? Yeah, that doesn't matter." It just feels… cruel.I can't help but notice that Christos Gage was NOT listed in the original solicitation for this issue, suggesting that he was a last-minute suggestion to this. Again. I understand that Gage is a frequent co-writer for these issues, but it's rather troublesome when gets added after these issues have been solicited.

  7. Mark Alford

    @John Simon's - Those are valid points. I had the luxury of coming into this comic with no real history of Loki, the favor, or of Carnage's continuity. I was reading when Carnage was created, but was never interested enough to pick up any of his limited series or titles, so to me, it's a symbiote, not a character. I imagine if I had more of a connection, this would really bother me. I agree that the writer of ASM should have a better understanding of the backstory of Carnage before doing this. But for me, ignorance is bliss. I read the JMS run, but for the life of me I don't remember the Loki issue. I guess it is a sad state when to enjoy an issue, you have to forget continuity and characterization.I don't believe Spidey's best days are behind him, but it will take a while for us to get back to what us old folk enjoyed. I survived the '90s and it looks like I'm going to survive Slott, so hope remains eternal!

  8. John Simons

    Nice review , Mark, thank you!Loki owed Spidey a solid after Spider-Man helped him defeat "Morwen" in ASM503 & 504, during JMS' run. It was a pretty good two-parter, much better than what we got here, in which that favor was completely wasted on a forgettable filler story with sub-par art.I, for one, did NOT like this issue. May's reaction to the Spockinbird break-up, when she immediately assumed it was Peter's fault, annoyed the poo out of me. And it bothers me SO MUCH (ick, I'm writing like Dan Slott) that no one gets how Carnage's symbiote works! The symbiote is essentially Cletus Kasady's blood. Their bond is so perfect, in a sick way, that they cannot be separated without causing Kasady to die, as in "Web of Carnage" and the Superior Carnage Annual from a a couple years ago (Kevin Shinick is evidently the only current writer who remembered this). This, once again, just turns a symbiote into a gimmick, instead of a character, committing the same crime that they did with Venom in the last arc. A story that actually demonstrated the competing madness of the Green Goblin and Carnage, and showed how unique Norman's vs. Kasady's insanity were, and how Spider-Man is pushed to the limit to deal with them, now THAT would have been an interesting story. Ugh, it depresses me to consider that JR's point about Spider-Man's best days being behind him" may be accurate. No one in Marvel seems to understand his chacracter or his world anymore...Again, though, thanks Mark. Viva Crawlspace!

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