Stillanerd Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26


Silver Sable’s return becomes blighted and overshadowed by a reckless, ends-justifies-the-means, and damn-the-consequences Spider-Man.

There comes a moment during Amazing Spider-Man (2016) #26 where Spider-Man tells Silver Sable he’s deliberately ignoring his spider-sense. “Because everything’s dangerous,” he explains. “Everything comes with a cost. And I’m willing to pay it–if it means catching Osborn!” Upon reading this, the following thoughts occurred to me: 1) What is Spider-Man even talking about? Even as dialogue, those lines make no sense at all! 2) So you’re admitting, Spider-Man, that you’ve handicapped yourself, and potentially put other lives in danger, for no good reason whatsoever? And 3) Is it just my imagination, or is Dan Slott, via this dialogue, actually admitting that he’s making Peter Parker do dumb, out-of-character decisions like this one because, if Peter didn’t do these dumb, out-of-character decisions, there wouldn’t be any story? Sure seems that way. And Spider-Man doesn’t have the monopoly when it comes to making dumb, out-of-character decisions in this comic, either. Thus I think “Fight or Flight” is the wrong subtitle for Part Two of “The Osborn Identity.” It should be “The Idiot Plot,” instead. Or maybe, to quote Forrest Gump, “Stupid Is As Stupid Does.”

In fairness, if you distill what happens in this issue into a basic summary (and there will be SPOILERS from this point) it seems like a simple, direct, and structurally sound narrative. Spider-Man foils Silver Sable’s assassination attempt against Norman Osborn, and Osborn escapes. Spidey and Sable give chase, leading them to Osborn giving an illegal weapons demonstration which he’s broadcasting over the internet. Spidey and Sable break-up the demonstration, but Osborn escapes, and Parker Industries already soured reputation becomes damaged even further. Sable tells Spidey how Osborn, along with a Symkarian countess Katrina Karkov, subjugated her people, and Spidey vows he’ll help Sable liberate her homeland with his own PI funded army–an act which makes him public enemy number one in the eyes of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Credit: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26

…pardon me if I find myself agreeing with Doctor Octopus in this issue when he calls Peter a “self-righteous twit.”

Like I said, simple, direct, and sound. And like any comic with a heavy emphasis on action, it moves at a steady, accelerated pace that flows seamlessly from one scene to the next. Unfortunately, Slott also unfolds this story by, once again, forcing his characters to do illogical, contradictory actions just to move the story along, while happily obliterating his own narrative with cannon-sized plot holes in the meantime. And boy oh boy, this comic has lots of them.

There’s Mockingbird abandoning Spider-Man, for example. As I asked during the “Preview Review,” why is Bobbi Morse calling Nick Fury for help when she told Peter last issue that since they’re on an off-the-books, unsanctioned mission, they cannot expect S.H.I.E.L.D.’s support? Why is she also stunned when Nick Fury denies her request if she knew full well he wouldn’t grant it? And why does Bobbi, after having no problem violating S.H.I.E.L.D. protocols to the point of accompanying Peter all the way to China in pursuit of Osborn, suddenly decide just as they’re giving Osborn chase that she must follow and obey Fury’s orders?

Then there’s Osborn’s “members only livestream” of his “Goblin Army Expo.” Slott clearly shows the only way anyone knows about this is from Osborn passing out business cards listing the Goblin Army’s private website address (Yes, the Goblin Army, an international criminal organization, has its own website for some reason). Harry Osborn, a.k.a. “Harry Lyman” procures one of these cards. Yet somehow, everyone at Peter’s company, if not everyone with an internet connection, also watches this same restricted feed from an unlisted web address. Did they all receive Norman’s business cards? Did Harry send them a link to the livestream?

Credit: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26

On that same note, why is Spider-Man fighting Osborn’s walking tank (clearly somebody played Metal Gear Solid and/or watched Star Wars one too many times) considered “bad optics” for Parker Industries? Moreover, why does Philip Chang–or anyone with a brain for that matter–assume Spider-Man being “outfitted with…Parker Industries technology” while fighting said tank also means the company cooperates with criminals in testing black-market weaponry? Especially as Osborn states over said livestream that he wasn’t expecting Spider-Man, nor planned the “Goblin Army Expo” with him in mind? Have these supposedly brilliant minds forgotten that Spider-Man, as a superhero, fights bad guys all the time?

Also, while Silver Sable’s characterization and motivations are clear and consistent throughout (and she’s the only one in the comic who has consistent characterization and motivation, I might add), I still can’t help but ask why she kept on letting the world think she was dead, and what took her so long to come out of hiding? She even admits her presumed death is what allowed Osborn and the Countess to take over her country. So why, after what might be almost two years since the events of “Ends of the Earth,” didn’t she try preventing this from happening, and why is she only going after them now?

Credit: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26

More from Spider-Man

And of course, there’s Peter’s decision to have his company invade Symkaria, an action which, under any normal circumstances, would guarantee his board of directors removing him as the company C.E.O. If not also resulting in the federal government seizing all Peter’s company assets, freezing his bank accounts, and arresting him the moment he steps back on U.S. soil. None of which, of course, happens here. But perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D. can get around to doing this next issue, since they’ve now branded Parker Industries no different from Hydra, an international fascist terrorist organization. Though what’s exactly stopping Peter from telling S.H.I.E.L.D. that Symkaria is housing a fugitive wanted for multiple accounts of murder, theft, terrorism, conspiracy, and arms trafficking, your guess is as good as mine. I suppose if he did, then we wouldn’t have had Peter impulsively decide to have his company engage in a policy of “regime change.” And all so Slott can show how Spider-Man, the superhero who’s supposedly all about using one’s power responsibly, has become so obsessed with getting Osborn and wanting a “win” after Clone Conspiracy–which I still don’t get, by the waythat he’s now a-okay potentially tossing aside the livelihood and welfare of thousands of own employees, and violating international law in the process. And all under the pretext that he’s helping Silver Sable, saving lives, and seeking “justice.” So pardon me if I find myself agreeing with Doctor Octopus in this issue when he calls Peter a “self-righteous twit.”

Credit: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26

At least I can find solace that artist Stuart Immonen has crafted another well-illustrated comic. The chase sequence and the battle with the Kingslayer tank are great to look at, but also expertly choreographed. Each panel during these sequences gives a sense of space and movement; you know where each character and object is in relation with one another, so there’s no confusion about what’s going on or who’s doing what in that precise moment. As a technique, it allows Immonen to get as close to replicating cinema with his art as one can get. But if Immonen does have a failing, it’s with his shading techniques, which Wade von Grawbadger’s haphazard inking doesn’t help. Sometimes, there’s room enough for colorist Marte Gracia to employ naturalistic looking effects; but far too often, the figures are over hatched and crosshatched, especially if they’re wearing grey or dark suits. I assume the idea is making the reader focus on the person’s face, except it winds up doing the opposite. The exception to this occurs near the beginning of the comic with a panel depicting Osborn’s face “split” between his current disguise and his actual face. It’s a fantastic and appropriately unsettling image, showing that, for someone who’s supposedly sane, Osborn’s just as maniacal and evil as he ever was.

But again, most of Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26’s flaws lie almost entirely at the feet of the script.  In the past, Slott has been very good with his set-ups, grabbing and holding our attentions with even the most outlandish premise. But two issues into “The Osborn Legacy,” and Slott’s grip is already slipping. If the story’s primary goal is the inevitable collapse of Parker Industries due to Peter’s own hubris, carelessness, and tunnel-vision, it doesn’t feel natural, nor the least bit earned. Like with him ignoring his spider-sense, it’s just Peter being stupid, knowing full well he’s being stupid, for the sake of being stupid. Because a “stupid but fun” story shouldn’t mean it’s characters must actually be stupid.

Stillanerd’s Nerdy Nitpicks (Because I’m just getting warmed up)

Credit: Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #26

Re: the recap page. Last time, it told us that, as a consequence of using Webware to stop the Carrion virus in Clone Conspiracy, public opinion turned against Parker Industries because they thought the company’s “signature product” was a “malfunctioning, dangerous piece of junk.” But now this issue tells us public opinion turned against Parker Industries because they were “wary of the access Peter has to their gear.” So which one is it? And how did anyone find out Peter downloaded an ap into these iPhone knock-offs? And why should they care? The Marvel Universe has heard of “automatic updating” before, yes?

“[Spider-Man] didn’t think his goal would put himself [and] Mockingbird…in Norman’s orbit.” But if he’s hunting Osborn, how could he not? And Mockingbird is helping him in the hunt, too.

  • Note how Norman, by acknowledging Harry as his “first born” is also acknowledging he has other children? The story which shall not be mentioned is still canon, folks!
  • I agree with, Spidey. No need to mention clones or even think about clones.

    You know, Spidey? Maybe you shouldn’t complain about Silver Sable’s tendency for violence. Cause I still remember when you and her “acid-boarded” the Sandman during “Ends of the Earth.”

    Okay, Spider-Man doing his auctioneer impression after destroying the Goblin cycles is pretty funny.

    “Will McMann, New York.” Who cares who you are, dude? This the first time we’ve ever seen you in this comic. But I guess you’re important for future issues because you’ve given out your full name, right?

  • “People are wondering if we’re bankrolling the Avengers.” Which is true. And this is bad because!?
  • “Afraid to show your own face in public.” Well, Spidey, it’s not as if people watching the livestream didn’t figure out the host of the “Goblin Army Expo” was really Norman Osborn with a new face since he kind of admitted as such.

  • So Silver Sable understands references to Jaws but not Return of the Jedi? Also, her quoting Sheriff Brody would work better if the walking tank actually looked like a shark.
  • Actually, Sable, it does matter how you survived “Ends of the Earth.” It’s not like you’re Mysterio or that you borrowed a Life Model Decoy or anything.

  • “…is my ‘demise’ made all off this possible.” You mean “all of this possible,” right Sable? Looks like Symkaria (and Marvel) needs to invest in some proofreaders.
  • “No different than A.I.M….” But isn’t A.I.M. now part of the Avengers and also an arm of the Untied States Government and currently run by an Avenger, Nick? Looks like S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to work on its intelligence gathering. Especially as they’re also in partnership with you.