Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Amazing Spider-Man #16 - Marvel Comics

In many ways Issue Sixteen of “The Amazing Spider-Man” was something of a no-win situation for American comic book writer Dan Slott. On the one hand he had whetted the appetite of many readers for ‘out and out’ action across a sweeping grand landscape with his multi-issue cross-title ‘mega-event’ storyline “Spider-Verse”. But on the other he was facing the increasing discontent of cynical fans who felt the title needed to simply concentrate more upon Peter Parker and have the costume vigilante shy away from such ‘big universal happenings’. Fortunately Slott turned to regular writing partner Christos Gage to ease this burden, and together they have penned an issue which should appease both the adrenalin junkie and those longer-term followers that have been baying for the book to once again solely focus upon the exploits of the titular character.

To begin with Part One of “The Graveyard Shift” throws the reader straight into the ‘deep end’ with a frantic fist-fight between Spidey and the Iguana; a mutated reptile who has the memories of the Lizard. In many ways this confrontation actually harks back to the Wall-crawler’s struggles of the Late Sixties as the friendly neighbourhood crime-fighter not only trades both punches and insults with his scaly opponent. But also has to juggle his personal life as Doctor Parker, by having to take several phone calls during the altercation.

Disappointingly Slott’s version of Webhead still isn’t the most intelligent of fighters though, as Peter stupidly informs his far larger foe that it is pointless trying to hypnotise him on account of the “special lenses in my mask.” Such an amateurish mistake badly undermines the super-hero’s standing as one of the most formidable and experienced combatants in the Marvel Universe.

Having presumably sated any craving for action with his reptile house fracas, the writer of “Silver Surfer” then focuses his storytelling talents upon further developing Parker Industries and establishes an intriguing business rivalry for Peter’s company with the less than scrupulous Alchemax. Inexplicably however this plot point, based upon the two businesses vying for the contract to build a new Department of Corrections incarceration facility, is brought to an abrupt half just fourteen pages into the comic. As for some unfathomable reason Slott decides to instead deliver the first of three ‘separate’ short instalments centred around the Black Cat’s somewhat ‘out-of-character’ rise within the criminal world. Why “Repossession” could not simply be delivered as part of the book’s main story is a mystery, especially as it is simply a continuation of the lead tale’s final scene set within the Slide-Away Casino?

Indeed both stories not only feature Felicity Hardy but also contain a scene depicting Aunt May and John Jonah Jameson at the Pinkerton Auction House. The latter of which occurs at the start of “The Late, Late Mr. Parker” but which, rather confusingly, doesn’t appear until the end of the secondary tale. Making it appear somewhat out of sync with the sequence of events.

Such an incongruous inconsistency with the comic’s timeline however can potentially be overlooked when the book’s artwork is as wonderfully well-drawn as Ramos Humberto’s pencilling is within this periodical. The Mexican artist’s depiction of Spider-Man fighting Iguana, complete with hissing pythons and snapping crocodile, is especially impressive, and there’s a genuine sense of impact whenever either of the combatants lands a solid punch upon the other.
The regular cover art of "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" No. 16 by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado

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