Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #694

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

This review was first published on: Nov 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. After defeating Giganto and The Jackal’s new entourage, Alpha realised that he has not learned the lessons Spidey has been teaching him… because he is above them! He sets out with his publicist and soon becomes a global icon. With exponentially growing power, Spidey realises that he has a new responsibility: to stop Alpha for good!

In Detail...

"Final Grade"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #694
Nov 2012 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 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: Hobgoblin I (Kingsley)

Alpha, Andy Maguire, is everywhere! Peter Parker calls him about the latest check-up he’s missed at Horizon and finds him in Tokyo. Alpha hangs up and Peter once again anguishes over the fact that he cannot take Alpha’s power from him without killing him. He’s worked for days, neglected his friends, family and heroic colleagues, and still no way. He decides to see Aunt May and Jay off at the airport, hoping to swing there in record him!

No sooner does he leave than he runs into The Avengers who are need of his help. Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Ms Marvel and Vision face the forces of Terminus, an alien determined to enslave the Earth! Cap orders Spidey to call upon Alpha to aid them! Spidey reluctantly obeys. Alpha arrives in seconds, traversing Tokyo to New York by using super speed and flight. He can now display more than one power at a time! He attacks Terminus and, without thinking it through, releases a shockwave that shuts down every commercial aircraft within ten miles! Cap order The Avengers to save the planes as Spidey realises May and Jay’s plane will be affected! He webs on to Ms Marvel and she flies him to it as it spirals out of control! He wrenches the door open and finds May being thrown around the cabin! He grabs her and webs the hole shut, using up all of his webbing! He makes it to the cockpit with her where Jay is trying to regain control! Spidey tells him to restart everything, which works until Alpha delivers another blow and everything goes off line again! They restart again but, worried that this is the end, May calls Peter. Spidey’s phone goes off and May’s message to Peter resounds through his earpiece! Jay decides that they have to land the plane but there’s a warning on the landing gear. When Spidey checks it out he finds that a strut is missing and it would never withstand a landing! With only one option, he braces himself as a strut and takes the weight of the plane, passengers and fuel as it lands!

Upon landing, emergency services rush to their aid. J Jonah Jameson arrives with them and thanks Spider-Man for saving his father. Spider-Man swears to JJJ that he’ll deal with Alpha.

Terminus lies prone and defeated! Alpha has left The Avengers to clean up the mess. Spidey arrives back on the scene and asks to study Terminus’s weapon as it redirected Alpha’s power.

The next day, Alpha reports to Horizon and finds Spider-Man waiting for him. Alpha steps into the monitoring station but finds that it drains him of his power! Spider-Man explains that yesterday was a test Alpha failed and that he isn’t worthy of the power.

Alpha goes home, returns to school and lives a normal life but, with a little Alpha power remaining, Spidey suggests that they try this again one day.

Peter visits May and Jay in hospital and learns that she’ll have to walk with a cane for the rest of her life. Peter recognises that she’ll need help and expects them to move back to New York. They don’t disagree!

Down by the docks, a man arrives. He enters a secret lock up and uncovers a goblin mask. Roderick Kingsley, The Hobgoblin, is back!

In General...

So I wanted lots of parallels between Spidey and Alpha, Spider-Man vs. Alpha the fight (as promised on the ridiculous cover) and a lot more convincing that Alpha was worth three issues. I’d have been a lot happier getting any of these… at all.

Ultimately, the major problem with this issue is the massive, unexpected and pretty meaningless curve ball in the plot. Dedicating Spider-Man to saving Aunt May and Jay makes sense, but not in this story. I hate to say it, but we should have been given more Alpha. Seeing little chinks in his armour, more little bits of immaturity, emotion on any scale and devoting a bit more time to this would have provided something for us to latch on to but we’re actually given Spider-Man pointlessly dinging around a plane. Whilst the image of Spidey acting as a landing strut is pretty impressive it’s not enough to distract from the loud clunk this whole issue makes.

When we get to see Spider-Man and Alpha in the same room, he’s depowered in a blink of an alien’s rod and is back to normal (but then isn’t because there’s still Alpha power in him!?!). What a bloody anti-climax!

Again though, there is little wrong in the telling of the story (actions are logical and pencils, panels and visuals are all sharp). It boils down to the story being poor.

Overall Rating...

When we next meet this creative team they are delivering Dying Wish, the final three issues of Amazing Spider-Man. It simply has to be better than this.