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-