This blog has awakened from its slumber to point out a really bad issue of ASM. I’ve been following ASM since the Straczynski run, and there were some stinkers along the way, but this is the worst one in recent memory. And here’s why.
The gimmick: Peter Parker loses his job due to forging an image with Photoshop. Yeah. I didn’t make it up. This just screams “we wanted to make headlines”. First and foremost, because it is out of character for Parker. Recent years had some pretty weird developments, like Gwen Stacy having Norman Osborn’s children, or Peter Parker and MJ getting magically unmarried, but this is different because it seems as though they made Peter a douchebag to make headlines. As a vigilante, Peter is no moral saint, but here it seems as though Peter is not even aware of the immorality of his actions, and feels no remorse (which is one of Peter’s basic traits). Even in the context of the forging act saving Jameson’s reputation, this doesn’t quite sit with the character.
Another thing that makes this gimmick loathsome is that it seems they did it to make Peter/ASM “hip”. Asides from Photoshop forgery being the very opposite of hip, this just screams “Peter is really as young as you are and faces the same problems you do”. The current run, as opposed to the JMS run, has featured a younger Peter (which is where unmarrying Peter and MJ came into the picture). But when it’s forced down our mouths, Peter just seems like the creepy old dude who thinks he’s 10 years younger.
The arc: Well, supposedly this is part of an arc where Peter meets old enemies as part of some scheme by the Kravens to get revenge. The problem is this has gone on for so long that the term “arc” for this story has become somewhat loose. Sure, Electro broke out the Vulture last issue, but this last issue didn’t even refer to the arc. Part of the idea behind the current ASM run is that some plot threads are left to dangle while others are dealt with. But since the story was so bad, it makes it look like the interesting plot threads were hung out to dry rather than left to dangle, such as evil aunt may. Even worse, the current story doesn’t make a reference to some details from the other plots even when it should (Such as JJJ’s dad being Parker’s step dad).
The writing: This issue reads like the Stan Lee stuff, and not in the good “Stan Lee knew characterization” way, but in the “it reads like it was written in the 60s” way. Spidey’s commentary in the spidey-vulture fight is way more over the top than necessary, and if there’s a giggle to be had from Peter doing Photoshop forgery and running out of web fluids in the same issue, I missed it. But other than that, something just doesn’t work. Even Jameson, who is the most complex character of this issue, somehow doesn’t manage to be interesting.
And then I looked at the credits and was stunned. This was written by Mark Waid. The same Mark Waid who writes Irredeemable, one of the best comic books currently out there. Obviously with Irredeemable he has more freedom as he created that book, but his last ASM issue is simply embarrassing.
I’m sticking around with ASM for some of the other rotating writers (specifically Dan Slott), but for me this run has sort of jumped the shark.