Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say “BLAARGH!”
I can’t tackle the topic of today’s BLAARGH! without first addressing this issue as a whole. It is very much a jumping on point for readers, setting the tone of times to come for Peter Parker and establishing just who Spider-Man and his supporting cast of characters are. To that ends, it’s effective, if a bit clunky. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a single element of Spidey’s universe that isn’t addressed here. Don’t believe me? Relationships/characters established in this issue:
- Spidey’s membership on the Avengers and what they all seem to think of him
- Spidey’s friendship with the Human Torch and casual acquaintance with the FF in general
- Peter’s failed relationship with now ex roommate Michelle
- Peter’s failed relationship with now “ex” wife Mary Jane
- Peter’s failed career as a photographer
- Peter’s fear of Aunt May thinking he’s failed
- Peter’s on again/off again love affair with Black Cat
- Peter’s current romance with Carlie
- Peter’s new-found friendship with Flash Thompson
- Peter’s not-so-friendly relationship with Randy Robertson
- Ben Urich and his nephew, former Green Goblin, Phil Urich
- 3J’s on the rocks marriage
- Jonah’s father’s estranged relationship with Jonah’s son John
And on top of that, we get the groundwork laid for four separate villain threads involving Dr. Octopus and his new Sinsiter Six, the Venom symbiote and it’s almost certain search for a new host, Kingpin’s return to Spidey’s life with Roderick Kingsley (aka the Hobgoblin) in tow, and what I believe to be a new villain with his sights set on Jameson. When I say Dan Slott left no stone unturned in Spidey’s universe, I mean it. They even establish the existence of a new Goblin-cult forming on the streets. Honestly… again, I KNOW this issue is supposed to get readers up to speed, but holy HELL you could’ve saved a little of this exposition for #649.
Still, the art was good, some of the best I’ve ever seen from Ramos, and most of the story elements were decent.
Peter’s new job seems a bit forced, but his “audition” reads rather brilliantly. And, for as much of it as there is, the exposition mostly comes off pitch-perfect. Mind you, Tony Stark and Reed Richards showed none of the respect for Peter that we’ve seen in the past – or, for that matter, earlier in the issue. We also, for all we DID recap here, got no mention of Harry Osborn’s departure last issue. I would’ve expected at least a “If Harry hadn’t just left to go into hiding with his son, I could at least crash with him for awhile” line while Pete was on his house hunt.
As for the villains, I don’t think I’ve ever ACTUALLY read a Hobgoblin story, so I’m kind of looking forward to seeing this stalwart villain return. Also, this is the first time the Sinister Six have really rung true, in my book, with each member retaining their own voice and motivations. This could, of course, be because it’s the first time we’ve really HAD established voices for these guys beyond being money grubbing no-goodnicks on the lookout for an easy score or a revenge play against Parker. Sandman’s a father, Rhino’s a widower with nothing left to lose, Electro’s a self-styled god with an inferiority complex, Ock himself is ever-closer to true insanity and Mysterio and Chameleon? Well, they’re still self-interested crooks, but they’re playing those roles better than ever. Ock’s plans are bigger and better than ever, too. Well, for the most part. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Amazing Spider-Man #648 may be a bit too much at times, but all in all it swings away with 4 out of 5 web hammocks-that-Spidey-lays-down-to-sleep-on-but-that-would-have-dissolved-in-an-hour-as-per-the-limitations-of-his-webbing-which-were-even-discussed-earlier-in-the-issue. Still, this is the kind of book that people complain doesn’t exist. A one stop shopping experience for readers new and old-but-out-of-the-loop alike. The plot threads established here seem interesting, too, and Ramos’s art is the perfect fit. So with such a high rating, where’s the BLAARGH!?
This is going to sound like a minor nit to pick, and I suppose ultimately it is, but at the same time, it’s the sort of thing that was so awful I couldn’t stop thinking about it the entire time I read the book, and that shouldn’t be the case.
At the end of the initial battle with Doc Ock’s giant robo-octopi (no, Jonah, they’re not Spiders, and Dr. Jameson, you’ve been reading too much Alan Moore, I don’t think they’re squids either), Octavius activates the robots’ self-destruct sequence. Each massive metal mollusk is set to detonate in two minutes, twenty-eight seconds. As the Fantastic Four and Avengers fail to figure out how to bring the behemoths down without prematurely detonating them, Peter devises a master plan. He reminds the machines that it’s the first Sunday in November, and they’re on Daylight Savings time, garnering the heroes an entire hour to disarm the deadly devices.
Ummm… but that’s not how timers work.
If I set my microwave to cook something for sixty seconds, at 5:59, it counts down sixty seconds. It doesn’t specifically WAIT for 6 o’clock. It’s just a coincidence that the two times coincide.
As I said before, this probably seems like a ridiculous thing to gripe about, but really… it’s just ridiculous. Dan Slott is a talented writer, but he too often likes to get “cute.” I’m sure he thought of this idea as a rather tongue-in-cheek gimmick, and rather than dismissing it as too asinine to actually use, he decides “I’m the guy writing the book, I’ll do what I want” despite how TERRIBLY it reads. Plain and simple, you DON’T synch timer’s up to clocks. That’s not how timers work. Had this been a trap set by the Joker, with a bomb set to go off at a certain time, and Batman and Robin had gotten an extra hour because of Daylight Savings? That would’ve made perfect sense. But timers don’t CARE what time it is. Period.
Epic fail, Mr. Slott. Congratulations on writing one of the dumbest scenes I’ve ever witnessed. And that’s AFTER I read the panel where Spider-Woman asks Peter if he farted.