Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Amazing Spider-Man - Renew Your Vows

In this case, I'm referring to the Secret Wars mini-series, By Dan Slott, Adam Kubert, Scott Hanna, John Dell, Justin Ponsor, and Travis Lanham, and not the ongoing Gerry Conway's writing at the moment.

So, guy calling himself Regent builds suit that lets him draw on powers of super-people he captures and puts in special containment units. By the time the Avengers take him on, he stole enough X-Men powers it's too late. Spidey misses the fight because Regent also released a bunch of villains, including Venom, who knows Spidey's identity and attacks MJ and their new baby. Pete kills Venom (or leaves him to die in a burning building if you're really charitable), but retires to protect his family. Ultimately he has to get back into action, then the whole family has to team-up with the remaining resistance to beat Regent, who was after Spider-Man all along. Because having a Spider-sense would be the key to defeating God Mode Dr. Doom. You'd think he could grab a precog, a telepath, somebody with probability powers, and achieve the same effect, but no.

OK, first things first, because it's been bugging me since I read this: Regent's design is terrible. He's this big whitish blob, with some wiring stuff on the arms and legs, and a red emblem on the chest. He looks like frickin' Colonel Computron or some shit.

Beyond that, it's Adam Kubert's art. By this point, you pretty much know what you're getting with it. It's pretty solid, straightforward, easy to follow. Nothing really flashy. The fight scenes are solid, Kubert can draw an punch with some weight on it. There were some panels that seemed like they needed to be larger, for more emphasis. Near the climax, the whole family is fighting Regent, things are going well, teamwork, lots of small panels of each one taking their shots* , and then Regent grabs Annie, which is bad. The panel is a small, square panel, actually smaller than the others on the page prior with it, but as it appears to represent a turning point (and ultimately faces Peter with his big choice), seems as though it should grab attention a little more.

If you cared about continuity with Secret Wars, you could wonder about how Regent is the only one who knows about Doom-as-God (this Spidey doesn't even seem to have heard of a Dr. Doom. I guess one didn't exist in his world). But I doubt any of you reading this are going to be that broken up about that. I did question Venom being willing to threaten a baby, since he had historically considered Aunt May (and Peter's parents when they were briefly back) off-limits as innocents. But again, different continuity I suppose.

In-story, peter is faced with a moment where it looks as though he'll kill the Regent to protect Annie, since he knows who they are and like Venom could come back to imperil the family. But he chooses not to, and calls this renewing his greatest vow. Which means he broke it when he killed Venom, so are we supposed to see that as a failure, a lack of belief in himself? Peter didn't believe he could protect his family from Venom, so he killed him to remove the threat. He took the safest, most direct route to their safety, and then repeated this strategy by abandoning being Spider-Man, by not trying to help others or trying to defeat the Regent.  In the longterm, they weren't really safe, because they were having to hide their powers with inhibitor chips so they weren't discovered. That might not work forever. Parker was relying on the Tinkerer for inhibitor chips, that wasn't going to work forever. It was more kicking the can down the road on making a decision.

Although that makes those choices seem at odds. Killing Venom was Peter making the decision. Protecting his wife and daughter was worth breaking that vow not to kill. While I'm generally in favor of Spider-Man not killing, when presented as a parent trying to protect his loved ones from someone vowing to torture them (and then probably eat them), I'm not going to fault him too much. That's not even getting into Regent making most of Spidey's rogue's gallery into his strike force, which means it's extremely unlikely Venom stays locked up, and you don't really want a guy with telepathic abilities near someone who knows your identity.

Believing he could always protect Annie would be foolishness. Isn't that something parents are told, to understand that sometimes their kids are going to get into scrapes or trouble, and you can't always be there? Granting that as Peter is a superhero, he has somewhat outsized ideas of what is possible for him, it would still be dangerous to proceed as though he'd always get there in time.

* Kubert uses lots of small panels for most of the fights Annie's involved in, but not so much for the ones that are just her dad. Spidey gets taller, skinny panels mostly, and not as many per page. I don't know what that means.

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