Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #693

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This story is part of an Arc: "Alpha"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Sep 2012.

Background...

Peter Parker, at a demonstration of his new discovery of Parker Particles, accidentally gave Andy Maguire superpowers! Donning the name of Alpha, and being sponsored by Horizon Labs (where Peter can keep an eye on him), Andy soon set out to prove himself as a hero. Spider-Man convinced him to be his sidekick, in order to learn the lessons of power and responsibility, but the brash young hero soon took things too far. With exponential power, more so than Hulk and Sentry, Alpha defeated Giganto and put Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four to shame. The world media now herald Alpha as the next big thing!

He’s also caught the eye of The Jackal who is determined to harness Alpha’s energy!

In Detail...

"That Something Special"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #693
Oct 2012 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Alpha"
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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

Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four clean things up following Giganto’s defeat at the hands of Alpha, as Alpha himself parades in front of the media and then flies off! Reed Richards tells Spider-Man to follow him and take responsibility for what he’s done.

Spider-Man swings to Mary Jane Watson’s nightclub and changes out of his costume. He needs her advice and she listens as he explains the situation. He sees Alpha as he might have been had it not been for Uncle Ben’s death but MJ puts it into perspective for him and explains that he is who he is because Uncle Ben lived. Peter suddenly realises that Alpha doesn’t hide behind a mask as he does and that his life is in danger…

Chrissy visits Andy’s house and finds him making out with a popular cheerleader from school! She yells at him for cheating on her but he doesn’t seem to care. Dr Warren and Princess (a Queen/spider clone) enter the house and Princess webs up Andy’s mother, father and lawyer! Andy tries to take them out but Princess fires some stingers at him and the cheerleader and they black out!

Shortly after, Spider-Man surveys the damage at Andy’s house and knows he is too late. He asks Frankie Kollins (a paparazzo from Amazing Spider-Man #560!) for information but only gets a lecture about how Spider-Man was the one who painted a target on Alpha’s head!

Over at Horizon Labs, Glory Grant explains how disappointed the Mayor’s office is at the latest Horizon cock up! Aunt May and Jay Jameson, who were looking for Peter, weigh in with Max Modell until Peter arrives and takes responsibility for everything that has gone wrong. He wishes May and Jay a safe flight and sets to work with Max to create a tracker for the alpha-energy. He tells Max that he’s thinking of leaving Horizon after all the trouble he and his relationship with Spider-Man has caused but Max explains that he’s given Horizon some of its best inventions and that Horizon has saved the city and the world because of Spider-Man’s involvement.

A short while later and Spider-Man, wearing the alpha-tracker and contemplating the role models he’s had in his life, gets a signal and heads to an abandoned school in Brooklyn. He is attacked by three Spiderzons (created from The Queen’s DNA) but is stung as Andy was before!

Alpha lines shackled in carbonadium and his family and cheerleader held hostage as The Jackal goes about cloning him! The Spiderzons drag Spider-Man in but he was playing possum! He leaps up and punches Jackal… who disintegrates into mush! The real Jackal appears and releases four Alpha clones on Spider-Man! The Alpha’s attack but don’t have any power! Jackal realises the alpha energy can’t have affected Alpha’s DNA so the clones are no good! He orders the Spiderzons and Princess to eat the hostages so Spidey has to battle them as Jackal sets about retrieving the Alpha energy another way by harvesting it from Alpha directly! Spider-Man knows this will kill him so, using his own insurmountable experiences from Amazing Spider-Man #33, urges Alpha to break free and help! Alpha surges with power and breaks free from his shackles! He won’t let anyone take his powers as it’s the only thing that makes him special! He destroys the Alpha clones, The Spiderzons and Princess as Jackal escapes! Alpha frees the hostages but ignores his cheerleader and his parents and announces that he knows his has a lot more to learn. Spider-Man is prepared to help him again but Alpha was talking to his lawyer! He wants to be the most important person in the world!

It doesn’t take long for Alpha to emancipate himself from his parents and move out on his own in Manhattan. The Fantastic Four still think Spider-Man can rein him in. Horizon want to distance themselves from him but know they are to blame. Andy himself is living the life of riley!

MJ visits Peter in Horizon as she’s not seen him in a couple of days. He’s been busy training Alpha but, at the same time, gathering as much data on him as possible. Peter knows Alpha is not worthy of the power he’s been given and that, as his responsibility, he’s decided that it has to be Alpha: no more!

In General...

The optimist in me always begins a comic book thinking it’s going to be 5 out of 5. I then renegotiate my expectations as the issue progresses and after I’ve absorbed it for a while. I knock off points rather than give.

Thus I come to Amazing Spider-Man #693 and I find myself knocking off more than usual for a Dan Slott/Humberto Ramos outing.

It ultimately boils down to three things: Alpha is so unlikeable you don’t even like hating him, the art fails to capture any mood and this is the greatest misfire of a quality villain since Morlun flopped in The Other. Having put all that great work in during Spider Island, why have The Jackal act like a jerk and then leave. Oh, and the cover is downright lazy!

I suppose Slott wanted to simply add to the pile of jerks he’s decided to fill his arc with. We’ve got Alpha, who was a jerk and remains a jerk (not much character building here), The Jackal (as we’ve mentioned), The Horizon team who fail to investigate this accident properly and instead capitalise on their cock up and one final, surprising jerk: Peter Parker. In quite an awkward character shift, and one which I hope doesn’t indicate things to come, Peter runs back into the life of MJ when he feels low and needs affirmation that he’s doing the right thing, instead of actually following Alpha and taking the initiative. It’s a clunky move by Slott that develops their relationship a little too much and adds to the question of where his vision for these characters is going.

In spite of all of these problems, my rating remains on the fence. Ramos draws a brilliant Jackal, the actions sequences are also equally detailed and kinetic, there’s a nice character moment when Peter considers the mentors he’s had, there are more parallels between Alpha and Spidey (though the final “Alpha No More” line is a bit much!) and the story itself has no holes in its telling.

Ultimately, this isn’t a bad comic it just isn’t a good one and is a far cry from the level I’ve come to expect from these creators.

Overall Rating...

I'm firmly on the fence and proud of it.