Monday 22nd December 2014,
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Amazing Spider-Man #654 Review

Nick Cavicchio 02/10/2011 Reviews

Amazing Spider-Man #654

“Revenge of the Spider-Slayer, Part Three: Self-Inflicted Wounds”

Plot: Dan Slott

Script: Fred Van Lente

Art: Stefano Caselli

Colors: Marte Garcia

Summary

  • John Jameson arrives safely at Horizon’s space station (unwittingly bringing one of Doc Ock’s drones with him), where he is stranded as a result of damage done to the shuttle.
  • Back at Horizon Labs, the confrontation between Peter and Max continues from last issue, with Max assuming that Spider-Man hires Peter to build his equipment.
  • Peter and Max complete a device to jam the Slayer Swarm’s spider-sense.
  • Meanwhile, Jonah’s limo is en route to the spa and the assault continues at the Bugle.
  • As Spidey prepares to set up the jamming device, he is attacked by the Scorpion.
  • When Gargan damages the remote trigger, Peter sets off the jamming device manually.
  • Scorpion, Spider-Man, and the Slayer Swarm all go down hard, though Spidey manages to fight through the pain and K.O. Gargan.
  • Though the Swarm is disabled, Smythe is not, and as he assaults Jonah, Marla shoves him out of the way, saving his life at the cost of her own.

Likes

  • The art continues to be excellent, to say nothing of the issue’s cover.
  • Slayer Swarm just sounds so much cooler than “Insect Army”.
  • While I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m still not sold on Evil Phil, I must admit I’m starting to enjoy watching him play the creepy guy in the background, demonstrated here when he knocks over a pillar, pinning Randy Robertson.
  • The last page of the main story. More than simply honoring his wife’s dying wish, Jonah’s refusal to blame Spider-Man for her death represents an wrinkle in the complicated and often hostile relationship between the two men. Though it naturally remains to be seen what sort of impact this will have on their future relationship, I have always enjoyed their interactions and look forward to seeing what Slott does with this.

Dislikes

  • The psychic blind spot strikes again. While I have no inherent problem with Max assuming that Peter works for Spider-Man, the fact that this is implied to be due to the psychic blind spot (which causes anyone to whom Peter doesn’t directly reveal his identity to make whatever wild leaps of illogic are necessary to avoid the obvious conclusion) just bothers me, especially as Slott seemed to be ignoring it in recent stories (though I’d certainly rather it be addressed and done away with than ignored, but I’m also a continuity nut). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the psychic blind spot is among the stupidest things to come out of the Brand New Day era, if only because it utterly neuters the suspense surrounding the idea of anyone discovering Peter’s secret identity. If you don’t believe me, take a few minutes to read through New Ways to Die and watch as it makes Norman Osborn of all people look like a complete moron.
  • This is the second consecutive issue that Dan Slott has merely plotted as opposed to fully scripting. It’s not a huge deal yet, but if it continues it could be indicative of Slott having trouble keeping up with the twice monthly publishing schedule (though I certainly hope that’s not the case).
  • This time around the Slayers are given zero character work whatsoever. While it’s not entirely unexpected that they would be characterized in a brief and superficial fashion, I can’t help but feel that this represents a waste of potential.

Overall

This issue was a solid end to the story, continuing Slott’s streak of quality output so far. Crucia l to that was the fact that he was able to recover a considerable amount of the tension that was lost with the arrival of the Avengers in the previous issue. Indeed, despite the team’s continued presence, they were more of a background force this time, allowing the bulk of the focus to remain on Spider-Man and his race to disable the slayers. As I touched on earlier in the review, Jonah’s refusal to blame Spider-Man is incredibly significant. As the basis of Jonah’s antagonism towards Spider-Man has always been an extension of his own insecurities (see ASM #10), the best Spidey/Jonah stories have always been the ones that have acknowledged and furthered the depth of this relationship (such as ASM #192, in which a dying Spencer Smythe shackles the two to a bomb), as opposed to the ones where Jonah is simply written as a raving lunatic. Indeed, this is the first time I can ever remember Jonah accepting responsibility for something when there are several ways he could have twisted the facts in order to blame Spider-Man. Additionally, Peter has lost his spider-sense following the detonation of the jammer. While I don’t expect this to last, it’s clear from the various solits and teases that have been released that this will likely remain the case for the next few storylines.

Also worth mentioning is the backup story, which features the debut of Flash Thompson as the new Venom. Though brief, the story details Flash’s initial bonding with the symbiote, as well as his initial training, and serves largely to establish the structure within which his missions as Venom will take place. While the premise has some potential, it remains difficult to make any more specific observations on how it will be handled, though I don’t doubt that I’ll have plenty to say on the matter once ASM #654.1 hits.

Rating: B-

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About The Author

Comic Booked's Managing Editor and self-appointed Spider-Man guru. Nick is a geek of all flavors, loving comics, video games and everything in between. Despite having no idea how he landed this gig, he is enjoying every minute of it. +Nick Cavicchio

  1. Skott of Fables 02/10/2011 at 10:00 pm

    The Psychic Blind Spot doesn't really make people create another reason for a Parker/Spider-Man connection. Max made a logical connection between the two but, honestly, this isn't something new. This sort of thing has happened long before Brand New Day made Amazing Spider-Man fun again.

    I would disagree that is does away with suspense, rather it adds to it and makes things very interesting as it did during Amazing Spider-Man #590-591 with the Fantastic Four. I believe Reed Richards explained he had a device that can pretty much do the same thing in one of those issues.

    But you've overlooked possibly the coolest thing in these issues. The *! Slott or whoever is finally referencing older stories and issues! I miss that because with all the back issues I have it's great to be able to have a reference point and go back and re-read some of these older stories!

    • Nick C 02/11/2011 at 9:29 am

      Perhaps I could have been a bit more clear in the review, but I'm not bothered by Max's conclusion in and of itself, I'm bothered by the psychic blind spot. And I honestly don't see how it contributes at all to any sort of suspense. We can bury it in comic jargon as much as we want, but the simple fact is that because of the blind spot nobody can figure out the secret identity unless (a) Peter unmasks himself or (b) someone unmasks him. So all this drama Slott was trying to build with Carlie in the first Big Time arc (Peter worries about dating someone smart enough to put two and two together when he leaves his Spidey stuff laying around the apartment) is completely meaningless because the blind spot just means she'll jump to any illogical conclusion or believe any lame excuse and Peter doesn't have to worry about it.

      As far as Slott drawing on continuity, I absolutely love that. I know I didn't mention it this review, but I'm fairly certain I did last issue. Like I said in the blind spot rant in the review, I'm a continuity fanboy whore. I love when writers draw on the past, especially with characters like Spider-Man who have such a rich history. In fact, that was one of the biggest problems I had going into BND back in 2008. Between OMD and various elements of the then-new status quo, it felt like continuity was being ignored in the interest of saying "This is how things are now, deal with it." And to Slott's credit, even back then he often seemed to be the only one with the balls to address these continuity holes, regardless of how satisfying the explanation actually was.

      • Skott of Fables 02/11/2011 at 11:18 am

        But we're looking at this from the perspective that we, the readers, know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. It's an 'outside looking in' situation. When you're inside things don't look as clear.

        • Nick C 02/11/2011 at 12:28 pm

          Granted, but by the same token, even if Peter himself doesn’t know about the blind spot (which, for example, would justify him worrying about Carlie doing the math) we, the readers, do know about it. So since we know the blind spot would cause her to add two and two and get three, why should we care?

          • Skott of Fables 02/12/2011 at 8:39 am

            Peter has always been the one character that has worried about his identity more than nearly any other costumed hero.

            His reasons were valid and proven true after he listened to Stark and unmasked on television during the Civil War.

            Now that things have been fixed and his identity is a secret again we get the fun of the suspense which is even more so since we know the cost of that revelation.

  2. Skott of Fables 02/12/2011 at 9:37 am

    That last scene with JJJ, though…that was something to behold.

    And, yeah, that Venom back up softened me to this new concept. I'm looking forward to the 'Point1' issue next week.

  3. CGC Lee 02/13/2011 at 3:03 pm

    I hate the whole aspect of Peter and Mary Jane not being married. I do. I still remember the cover on the rack where Peter asks the big Question. I loved the Annuals where they actually had a real life Wedding Dress designer design Mary Jane's wedding dress. His name escapes me.

    I don't like how it was Mephisto giving the married couple a choice just because they would suffer. And then when they finally revealed what happened on how people forgot (blind spot?) Peter Parker was Spider-man there was no mention of Mephisto, although it would be Funny if Mephisto forgot too.

    I love this hobby. I also know that the stories that we love and follow are full of holes. That being said, I love the review, it is appetizing, a slow simmering morsel making me wish to pick up this book after already reading it. The stories are indeed fun again after that bitter dismantlement of wedded bliss. I look forward to seeing what happens next even though I thought Max figuring out that Spider-Man "Hires" Peter for his equipment was a bit obvious. It was a great simple solution, and sometimes great simple solutions are the best.

    As far as us being readers I love it when authors refer back to older stories. I used to love reading a story and looking at the blurbs "as in our last issue" or "last seen in ASM 129". I used to see how far back of a reference they would go, not including first appearances.

    At $4 a book, (although Marvel did Promise to go to $2.99….still waiting for that one) I want to be entertained and when I can go into a back issue bin and get a good half dozen for the same price as a New Amazing Spider-Man well I have to admit I am enjoying what Dan Slott has been doing. I look forward to hearing what you think of the next issue.

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