Friday, 3 March 2017

The Amazing Spider-Man [2015] #21 - Marvel Comics

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN No. 21, January 2017
Considering that this book’s principle protagonist “is usually ranked as one of the greatest comic book characters of all time alongside DC Comics characters such as Batman and Superman”, it may have been hard for some to believe that Issue Twenty-One of “The Amazing Spider-Man” was only the twenty-third best-selling title in November 2016. For whilst Dan Slott’s script for “Live Another Day” arguably contains more than its fair share of lengthy flashback sequences and the occasional unfollowable piece of ‘timey wimey’ explanation, “The Clone Conspiracy” tie-in does feature “an alternate San Francisco” which has become overrun with decaying ‘New U Technologies’ zombies, an autopsy scene that is “pretty gnarly stuff”, and the prominent return of Karn, the “protector and prisoner of the Web of Life and Destiny”.

Unfortunately for this twenty-page publication’s 63,052 readers however, what the Berkeley-born writer’s narrative doesn’t surprisingly contain, is neither hide nor hair of its titular character. In fact, even the wall-crawler’s alter-ego, Peter Parker, only makes the briefest of appearances, and that’s just so the different universe’s version can be ‘degenerated’ by a mindless hordes of Carrions when his world’s generators are breached; “It’s too late for them. But maybe their work can still save other worlds. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

As a result, the Eisner Award-Winner’s narrative instead exclusively follows the exploits of the Jackal’s first clone of “the crime-fighting super-hero”, Kaine, and “the second greatest alternate version of Spider-Man”, Spider-Gwen. This remarkable coupling does admittedly prove to be a somewhat interesting team-up once the pair identify that the epicentre of the master geneticist’s plague “always starts in a city with a major Parker Industries” research center, and battle “the most advanced Carrion-state” the Scarlet Spider has ever seen. But even the dynamic action just such a punch-up portrays was surely never going to be enough to satisfy an audience presumably purchasing a comic in order to enjoy an adventure featuring Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s “flawed superhero with everyday problems".

Judging by his inconsistent pencilling, such a dialogue-heavy story-line certainly seems to have caused Giuseppe Camuncoli a few problems, particularly when the artist is drawing the “near-irreparably mutated” Scarlet Spider. Indeed, despite seemingly being perfectly capable of imbuing Gwendolyne Maxine Stacy with plenty of dynamic life, the Italian visibly struggles to do the same for Kaine’s costumed alternative personality.
The variant cover art of "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" No. 21 by Paolo Rivera

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