Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #673

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This review was first published on: Nov 2011.

Background...

Spider-man, with the help of the Avengers, Horizon Labs, Reed Richards, Venom and Anti-Venom, has finally put down the threat of the Queen. Now begins the aftermath of the event that was "Spider-Island".

In Detail...

"The Naked City"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #673
Jan 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Island epilogue; Carlie discovers Peter's secret identity; 'psychic blindspot' lifted
Story:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Stefano Caselli
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Frank Martin
Executive Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Articles: The Jackal, Kaine

The opening page gives us a morning-after overview of the swath of destruction cut by the Spider-Island incident. As citizens and heroes alike revert back to their human form, they are naked in the streets. Hiding behind a tree is a nude Carlie Cooper, listening on while Hawkeye, Black Panther and Misty Knight discuss why Misty still has her headband and bionic arm. Hawkeye says they live in a world where Hulk grows ten times his size and his pants stay on, so just roll with it (cue my eyes rolling at this part instead at more of Dan's self-conscious writing). Hawkeye also notes he still has an appendix scar. Looking down, Carlie sees her Spider-man tattoo that she got on her hip fading away.

The members of the Avengers begin their cleanup in Union Square where the corpse of the giant queen monster resides. Steve Rogers requests that Iron Man do a full-body scan of the Queen's corpse to make sure she's really dead and not pulling another trick. Madame Web is chatting with Shang-Chi, but senses Kaine is near, still in Peter's stealth horizon suit. She calls Kaine out and says she needs to discuss with him his future.

There are cleaning crews and heavy trucks taking away wreckage at the site of the Queen's corpse. Inside one of the trucks is another Miles Warren clone along with Jackal. Turns out the Jackal the Queen disintegrated a few issues ago was merely another clone. Jackal tells the Miles clone that he kept his distance the entire time, and rigged a computer to say that the killed Jackal was the original. Jackal also says he's "bristling with ideas, all new ways to plague our Mr. Parker".

Speaking of which, Peter is still on top of the Empire State Building with Mary Jane, explaining how he was able to lead the march of mentally-controlled octo-spiders last issue to carry the cure to 1.6 million New Yorkers last issue, and yet in the time he and MJ lived together, he "couldn't record two shows at the same time on our DVR?". Peter gets a call from Aunt May on his in-mask comm. Her and Jay are still at the airport waiting to depart from Boston. Seems the flights are back in the air, and May wants to see Peter again before they leave. With Mary Jane's blesssing, Peter swings away, saying they'll talk later, and that he can't shake the feeling that he's forgetting something. MJ herself, still with spider-powers of her own, swings off the rooftop, thinking "Oh, I'm sure it's nothing important.".

At Newark's Liberty Airport, injections are being administered to travellers by workers in hazmat suits, as a last precaution. Peter meets up with Jay and May--on a TV screen, a news report shows a "cured" Eddie Brock alongside Reed Richards, who proclaims Brock as the true hero of Spider-Island, as the essence of the cure was distilled from Eddie's Anti-Venom symbiote. May and Jay head towards their gate, saying their goodbyes to Peter. Who should Peter run into next, but Kaine, clad in a blue hoodie of all things. Kaine tells Peter that he's leaving New York, and that he's keeping Peter's stealth Horizon suit, that Madam Web told Kaine he may need it.

Jonah and Robbie, meanwhile, are enjoying a drink at an empty pub. Jonah says he awoke in his Command Center, in a locked room, marvelling at how Spider-man "got one of those metal bugs throught he best security the city's got. That is a dangerous man.". Robbie asks in light of the fact that he saved a million citizens, does Spider-man get any credit? Jonah says he'll make a call. Spider-man, while swinging across the George Washington Bridge, has a moment of identitication with an appreciative city worker, who concludes that Spider-man must not be that different than anyone else.

Dropping in through his skylight, Peter changes out of the costume, and runs into Carlie in his apartment, who's packed her bags and is leaving. Peter tries to make up some lame excuses, that he was asleep the whole time in the other bedroom, but Carlie stops him short. She says she's leaving him, and that she knows he's Spider-man. She asks him to finally show her some respect and own up to it, which he does. She says Peter showed no learning curve like everyone else did with his powers, and that Peter Parker is just a suit, "a costume you put on to be like the rest of us". Peter tries to stop her, but Carlie says whatever they had is over, and that they're done. With that, she leaves and slams the door on her way out, leaving Peter alone.

Peter is then walking down the wreckage of Fifth Avenue, thinking he was "promised that nothing like that could EVER happen again!", and that someone owes him one hell of an answer. In his civilian clothes, he's outside the fence of Avenger's Mansion, demanding that Dr. Strange show himself. Strange appears in his astral form, he's somewhere else at the moment but sensed the urgency of Peter's call. Peter says someone figured out his secret identity, and wonders how that's possible, as Strange put a spell in place (during One Moment In Time) that psychically blocked anyone from figuring out Peter is Spider-man. Strange says the spell wouldn't work if another person unmasked Peter, or if he unmasked himself to others. Strange shows him a misty vision of the video Peter sent out over the internet of himself proclaiming that he has spider-powers too during Spider-Island, in an effort to rally the public. Strange claims with that act, Peter revealed himself to the world again. The spell has been weakened, and its protection is gone. The world won't remember Peter revealing his identity, but from now on, they can learn it once again. Strange also says it's only a spell that can be performed once.

Horizon Labs: Max Modell has gathered all the scientists, and is congratulating them all for their role in saving New York from the infestation. Peter busts in at this moment, demanding another sample of the cure. Modell says the quantites of it are now limited, but that he has an emergency hypodermic of it, which he gives over to Peter---with the caveat that Peter tell Spider-man to be very careful with it, that it will permanently remove Spider-man's powers.

On the roof of Horizon, Peter has changed into is Spider-man duds, and runs into Madame Web. He doesn't have a lot of patience for her clairvoyant mumbo-jumbo and tells her so. Madame Web says Peter could make the choice and cure himself now with the syringe he has, that "the web of life" will "reweave itself", and someone will step in to take his place, maybe Kaine, maybe another. Peter says the powers he has are a gift, and throwing them away would be the most irresponsible thing he's ever done. Madame Web says he is to suffer a loss, but won't tell him what, which exasperates him.

Spider-man catches up with a web-slinging Mary Jane, who is still wearing his spider-costume top. Peter tells her he has to cure her before she mutates into a big, hairy spider. Also, that he knows her, and that she hates shaving her legs, and to try shaving eight of them. MJ gives in, and Peter injects her with the cure. They talk some more, and Peter informs MJ that Carlie left him. He says he won't stop being Spider-man, because people need him, but that just once, it'd be nice to get some gratitude. MJ tells him to shut up and look: nearby, the Empire State Building is lit up at the top with blue and red, in honor of Spider-man.

In General...

With this issue, the mega-crossover known as "Spider-Island" draws to a close. Personally, this reader couldn't be happier. While I liked aspects of the story, and Dan Slott wrote the hell out of it as usual, there was something exhausting about reading it, a feeling of pandemonium that couldn't really be sustained past part two or so as the story dragged out. The whole thing felt so video game-y, to where it's no surprise that last issue's final part was titled "Boss Battle". It didn't help that Humbero Ramos' artwork often looked sloppy, rushed and downright ugly. I know the artist was probably under the gun to get the book out on schedule, but it seems to be a trend when he takes a turn on the artwork duties here in Amazing that things come out looking dirty and rushed.

My favorite issues of this crossover are probably this epilogue and the prologue--and I wonder how much of having Caselli on artwork duties has to do with that. Caselli knocks it out of the park here again as usual, with the just the right amount of detail, expression, humor and diversity. There's a nice attractive realism that fits the sober tone of this issue, and it's a style that probably wouldn't have fit with the actual Spider-Island story.

As for Slott's storytelling: while I wasn't blown away by the bulk of the Spider-Island story, he knocks this epilogue out of the park. Lots of humor, but there are still a few too many self-concious bits (Hawkeye's "just roll with it" speech at the beginning). Careful Dan, or you'll turn into the new Howard Mackie, writing self-conscious bits into the character's dialogue that loudly call attention to themselves. All that aside, Dan's moved the narrative forward here in ASM in big strides over the past year alone. He's also moving this book out of the at-times lousy Brand New Day era and its storylines, and it's a welcome progression.

Now, on to the big stuff in this issue, namely, Carlie figuring out Peter is Spider-man. I knew this was coming, and Peter revealing himself in the internet video (while everyone else in the city was freaking out on having Spider-man powers, making Peter think he was safe in displaying his out of costume) was a pretty clever way to negate the Dr. Strange spell. So we as readers get rid of two very annoying story threads in one shot, namely, the "psychic blindspot" that keeps people from figuring out Peter's secret identity, and Carlie Cooper herself, who, fed up over being lied to, has packed her bags and moved on. To say I'm thrilled over this development would be an understatement--while Carlie has had some decent storylines (Character Assassination and The Return Of Anti-Venom among them), I've never warmed to her character, and never particularly liked her whatsoever. She was introduced during the reboot of "Brand New Day", and now joins the rest of the charactrers introduced then, such as the Hollisters, Vin and Michelle Gonzales, and Harry Osborn himself, in being shuffled out of the book. As with the rest of the gang, this is no loss to the world of Spider-man comics.

The seeds of Carlie's exiting the book were sown throughout Spider-Island--her getting too close to figuring out Peter's identity, to her overconfidence and what I define as arrogance when she got spider-powers of her own. There may be die-hard Carlie fans out there who won't agree, but I found her to be a total jerk through most of the Spider-Island storyline.

The only odd things are: Peter doesn't seem too distraught with Carlie leaving. In fact, he keeps forgetting about her pointedly throughout the whole issue. Coupled with the fact that her tattoo starts fading--are there some sort of repercussions for being the one that breaks Strange's spell and reveals Spider-man's identity?

No one seems happier at this development than Mary Jane herself here in this issue. Does this mean the door has been opened for Mary Jane and Peter to get back together? Not so fast--like teasing the possiblity of Ben Reilly returning, like having the Jackal be vaporized by the Queen and then Jackal returning, all too-inevitably this issue, Dan Slott and company love to misdirect us Spider-fans. I won't hold my breath that MJ and Peter get back together, much less have their marriage re-instated. I'm almost certain the ship has sailed on that era. Actually, I'd be fine with no romantic entanglement for our protagonist for awhile. That said, it's great to have MJ back, even just as a regular supporting character. C'mon, Marvel--let's not screw this all up again.

On another note, a new Spider-man title, "The Avenging Spider-man" launches on the heels of this story. It'd be great if all the guest-starring could move over to that title, and we could get back to stories here in this title of Peter and his cast of characters and villains.

Overall Rating...

Bye bye, Carlie. Wish I could say it was nice knowing you.

Footnote...

This issue's standard cover is the upteenth riff on a splash page in ASM #50's "Spider-man No More!" issue, where a fed-up Peter Parker dumps his Spider-man outfit in the trash can when he gives up being Spider-man.