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Amazing Spider-Man #656 Review

Nick Cavicchio 03/20/2011 Reviews

Amazing Spider-Man #656

“No One Dies Part Two: Resolve”

Storytellers: Dan Slott & Marcos Martin

Colors: Muntsa Vicente

Summary

  • The standoff continues from the end of last issue.
  • Spider-Man arrives and, owing to a lack of spider-sense, takes a bullet when Massacre opens fire and subsequently escapes.
  • Jonah holds a press conference, after which he speaks with the young son of one of Massacre’s victims and vows that there will be “zero tolerance for murderers”.
  • Following a brief origin story, Massacre resurfaces with more hostages. Jonah rather explicitly tells the police chief that he wants Massacre dead.
  • Spider-Man arrives on the scene with a bulletproof costume and a batch of magnetic webbing, which he uses to block the radio frequencies used by Massacre’s detonators.
  • After he has been disarmed and beaten by Spider-Man, the police snipers finally get a bead on Massacre. When the chief orders them to take the shot, Spider-Man shoves Massacre out of the way.
  • The issue closes with a brief confrontation between Spidey and Jonah, illustrating the clash between their respective mindsets.

 

Likes

  • I’ll just get this out of the way up front. Marcos Martin. Really, I should just copy and paste this into the review for any issue he pencils in the future.
  • I’ll get into it in more depth later, but I dig the contrast between Peter and Jonah and how they’re each reacting to Marla’s death.
  • The magnetic webbing was good and clever. I love it when Spidey turns to his scientific acumen to save the day. To me, that’s something that has always set him apart (Reed Richards and Tony Stark notwithstanding).
  • On a less analytical level, I loved Jonah’s line at the end, when he decides that Spider-Man is neither threat nor menace, but rather “a @#%* idiot”.

 

Dislikes

  • I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of Jonah essentially using the NYPD as a hit squad. I don’t intend to debate the political or ethical ramifications; I just wasn’t entirely comfortable with it, even as a story point.
  • Now for a continuity nitpick. Spidey and the police lose track of Massacre after the initial standoff because in his haste Peter forgot that he uses his spider-sense to keep tabs on spider tracers. However, in the earliest (Lee/Ditko) issues in which the tracers appear, he instead used a “small portable receiver”. At the risk of sounding like an editor’s caption, see ASM #11. Granted that has long since been abandoned, but the point is that the tracers are still

    The one and only appearance of the legendary Spider-Armor!

    usable.

  • This issue marks the introduction of the second new costume in three story arcs. While I am a fan of Spidey breaking out the science when the situation calls for it, I hope Slott doesn’t overdue the “new costume” gimmick, lest we end up with a plethora of costumes that are only used in one or two issues. Spider-Armor anyone?
  • I felt like Slott was beating us over the head with “oops, no more spider-sense” moments. First, the web swinging gaff, then he gets shot, then he forgets that he uses his spider-sense to follow tracers. I understand that the idea was to illustrate how much he depends on that particular power, often without realizing it, but all three of those incidents occur within the space of six pages. That’s a bit much.

Overall

Going into this issue, the biggest question was how it would compare to ASM #655. While this is natural, it’s also unfair. While neither is bad, they are both very different issues. Whereas #655 was largely rooted in character study, #656 is by contrast more along the lines of a standard superhero comic. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no character work being done. Indeed, what this issue serves to showcase is just how Jonah and Peter are handling Marla’s death. In particular, both of them are acting rather irrationally, but in their own ways.

Peter’s response has been summed up by the very title of this story, “No One Dies”. Setting aside the naiveté inherent in assuming that he can, in fact save everyone, this has essentially been his goal all along. Regardless, this is pretty much in line with Peter’s character. Any self-respecting Spider-Man fan knows that if there’s a way, however illogical, for Peter to blame himself he will. And hyperbole aside, he’s basically reacting to a death he (for whatever the reason) failed to prevent by vowing not to let such a thing happen again.

Jonah, by contrast, has always been a more reactionary character, and that tendency is in full swing here. First demanding that Smythe receive the death penalty and later giving the order to kill Massacre, Jonah is apparently allowing his anger and grief influence his judgment, something that will undoubtedly have significant consequences for him if he allows it to continue.

Of particular note, however, is the fact that Peter and Jonah have such opposite reactions. Indeed, while Peter vows to save every life possible, Jonah has focused instead on retribution, both in regard to Smythe and in ordering Massacre’s death after a standoff in which he killed eight people. Hopefully, the repercussions of their mutual irrationalities will be further explored in the months to come.

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. Nick Furious 03/21/2011 at 7:34 am

    I am one of those people that gave up on Spiderman awhile ago, but I read your reviews and it really makes me want to jump right back into it. I'm sorry but Spider Armor was ridiculous.

    • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 3:42 pm

      Yeah, I gave up on the book around the end of 2008 myself. Long story short, I was nerdraging over One More Day and deeply disappointed with Brand New Day. It was actually a combination of the Comic Booked gig and a conversation I had with Dan Slott at New York Comic Con last fall that convinced me to give Big Time a shot. And I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.

    • Skott of Fables 03/21/2011 at 4:30 pm

      Shouldn't have. Brand New Day had some of the best Spider-Man stories in YEARS!

  2. Colin Bell 03/21/2011 at 1:08 pm

    I enjoyed the vast majority of the BND era, and the JMS run before it, but Slott's Spidey work has always been on a whole other level. The guy bleeds Spidey.

    • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 2:00 pm

      Did you ever read the Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series he wrote around 2005? I tend to ignore minis, but I can't recommend this one highly enough.If you like the way in handled that team up in issues like ASM #590, 591 and 600 then you'll love Spidey/Torch. Actually, it's worth it for issue 3 alone (it features the Spider-Mobile and the day is saved with the power of Hostess Fruit Pies).

      • Colin Bell 03/21/2011 at 4:38 pm

        Yeah that was awesome! I was also a big fan of Avengers: The Initiative #7, where Slott effortlessly used established continuity to fudge Spidey's secret identity back into secrecy. Shame it didn't get utilised more.

        • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 4:58 pm

          Thank you! I caught an interview Slott gave at the time where he pimped A:TI #7 as "important for Spider-Man", which I always figured got trashed with the mindwipe going into BND. But I've been reading through some of his Formspring responses recently, and he implies that it might somehow still matter. Could be interesting.

  3. Skott of Fables 03/21/2011 at 4:28 pm

    If it wasn't for OMD/BND I would have dropped this series (again) shortly after Civil War. Instead, BND fixed one of the things that kept me from getting into this book: The marriage to Mary Jane. It took getting rid of that to make me realize how much I couldn't stand her. The book has tripped once or twice (Grim Hunt) since but it hasn't been this much fun since the series began.

    Since Slott took over it's been just as much, if not a little more, fun. Basically, the magic is back in this book.

    This issue, along with the last, were some of my favorites issues since I started this run. I do miss Ramos' art though, I love his stuff so very much but this Marcos Martin really has something with his stuff. It feels like a classic Marvel Comic from the 60's and I completely love that.

    • Colin Bell 03/21/2011 at 4:39 pm

      I dug Grim Hunt. Just think Origin of the Species suffered by following so quickly after it.

      • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 5:05 pm

        Ha, if Origin of the Species suffered from anything, it was a wonky plot and craptastic art. I'm still not sure why the hell the Lizard was in that one.

    • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 5:04 pm

      Like Colin, I also enjoyed (most of) Grim Hunt. The main problem I have with it (though it's more a case of the jury still being out) is that it's one thing to bring back a long dead character with a good story, but it's utterly pointless to do so if you're not going to capitalize it. Especially with a story like Kraven's Last Hunt, if you're going to undo that one, you'd better make it worthwhile for more than just a story or two. Case in point, look at what DC's done with Jason Todd. While his return was well done, they haven't really seemed like they actually know what they want to do with him since. I hope the same thing doesn't happen with Kraven, especially since he was always such a one-note villain in the first place.

  4. Andy Kirby 03/21/2011 at 6:05 pm

    Very tightly written article…well done!

    • Nick C 03/21/2011 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks man!

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