Tag Archives: Andy Maguire

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #694 – The 50th Anniversary story arc concludes!

Amazing Spider-Man #694
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], and Edgar Delgado [Colors]

If Amazing Spider-Man #692 and 693 were about introducing Alpha, then this week’s #694 is all about setting the character up for his next chapter–whenever that may be.

Deciding to take a break from his research at Horizon Labs, Peter Parker heads out to the airport to say goodbye to his Aunt May and her husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., before they head back to Boston.  As is the case when he has something to do or somewhere to be, he’s interrupted.  The Avengers request his help fighting off Terminus, who’s once again intent on taking over the Earth.

The Avengers unfortunately have the bright idea of having Spider-Man summon Alpha, and the egotistical teen hero with more power than everyone else present darts across the world from Japan to lay the smackdown on Terminus.  This causes problems, as the fight takes place above the airport and Alpha’s irresponsible use of his powers short circuits all of the planes currently in the air–including the jet carrying May and Jonah Sr.  Naturally, the day is saved, but as soon as Alpha leaves, Spider-Man and the Avengers all agree his powers, created in a lab accident by Peter’s “Parker Particles,” must go.

But, irreparable damage may have already been done.

Dan Slott packs a lot of great moments into this issue, continuing to showcase Alpha as an extraordinarily unlikeable character.  At least two recurring members of Spidey’s supporting casts get apparent status quo changes here, as well.  Seeing Peter act in a more stern, almost parental-like manner was different for a change, and I especially enjoyed Dan’s nod to all of the people who are unclear as to whether or not Spider-Man is still a Future Foundation member.  Combine this with Ramos’ art and a nice lead-in to the “Danger Zone” arc and you’ve got a solid conclusion to Slott’s 50th Anniversary story arc.

RATING:  A Tantalizing Tale in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

*ALSO:  If you didn’t notice, this issue’s cover was an homage to a classic cover from when the “big two” comic publishers could play nice every now and then.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #693 – The Jackal returns!

Amazing Spider-Man #693
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], Edgar Delgado [Colors]

Last issue, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos gave Spider-Man a new sidekick for his 50th anniversary.  This issue, he deals with the direct aftermath of that.

Created by an accident during one of Peter Parker’s demonstrations at Horizon Labs, teenager Andy Maguire is now Alpha, potentially one of the world’s most powerful superhumans.  Peter being who he is takes on responsibility and, at the behest of Reed Richards, makes Alpha his sidekick.  Unfortunately, the kid’s kind of an egotistical jackass.

As the issue opens, Alpha has just taken out Fantastic Four villain Giganto with a single punch and left the FF and Spider-Man standing around scratching their heads.  Hoping to clear his head, Peter goes to Mary Jane’s nightclub to see if she can make sense of everything.  She points out to him that Alpha is only doing what Peter would have done had he not realized the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” bit as a result of Uncle Ben’s murder–and then Pete realizes everyone knows who Alpha is because he doesn’t wear a mask.

Rushing off to Maguire’s home as Spider-Man, he arrives too late and quickly realizes Andy and his family have been abducted by the clone-crazy Jackal.

Dan Slott wraps up Alpha’s introduction here fairly neatly.  The more you read of Alpha, the more you begin to hate the kid–and that’s pretty much the point.  The end of this issue sets up the future status quo between Spider-Man and his new sidekick, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out between now and issue #700, assuming this plot thread doesn’t continue beyond that point.  Additionally, this is the second time Slott has written the Jackal in the last few years, and I have to say it’s a big improvement over how the villain was written back in the Clone Saga.

Ramos’ art remains impressive here, although I still have a few qualms with some of the less-detailed panels where bodies have less detail and defy anatomical form [SEE: The panel of Spidey swinging toward MJ’s club on the second page].  At his most highly-detailed, however, Ramos continues to be one of my favorite modern Spider-Man artists.

Overall, this was a great issue and a fitting end to Slott and Ramos’ 50th anniversary story.

RATING: 8.5/10

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #692 – 50th Anniversary Spectacular!

Amazing Spider-Man #692
Writer: Dan Slott, with back-up stories by Dean Kaspiel and Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], Edgar Delgado [Colors], plus Dean Kaspiel [Art] & Giulia Brusco [Colors] and Nuno Plati [Art] on back-up stories

Spider-Man’s first appearance was 50 years ago this month in Amazing Fantasy #15.  Sure, that issue was probably actually released in June because it’s only cover-dated August, but these are minor details.  This month is widely regarded as Spider-Man’s “birthday,” so Amazing Spider-Man #692 is the super-sized 50th anniversary spectacular you would expect Marvel to release with the hefty price tag of $5.99.  (Seriously, Marvel… Kids see that price tag and think “I could buy an action figure for that same price! Why bother?”  Maybe a return to news pulp for lower cover prices is in the cards.)

Regardless of the price tag, Marvel and their Spider Office give fans a good bang for their six bucks here.

The big plot point of ASM #692’s main story–written, of course, by fan-favorite Spider-Scribe Dan Slott–was spoiled a month or two back, because passing up any opportunity for media exposure is a missed opportunity to score figurative new readers and that trumps the element of surprise in today’s comic book market.  If you hadn’t already heard, Spider-Man gets a sidekick after 50 years of fighting crime on his own.

Well, on his own except for when he’s a member of the Avengers.  And the New Avengers.  And the Future Foundation/Fantastic 4.  And all of those team-up books, issues, and stories.

But those are all different scenarios.  Spider-Man has never had a sidekick, and that’s because when he first became Spider-Man, he was only 14 or 15 years old.  That’s standard sidekick age in most superhero books, and probably the average age of most of Batman’s Robins when he first took them in.  Stan Lee created Spidey as the exception to the rule–the boy who would be a (super)man.

Anyhow, I digress.  As the issue begins, we’re introduced to mediocre teenager Andy Maguire.  (Get it?  Because the two motion picture Spider-Men are Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield?  I see what you did there, Slott!)  Andy’s a kid who goes by unnoticed by everyone, including his parents, because not failing is good enough for him.  C-average student, no extracurricular activities, not part of any “cliques” at school… He just kind of exists and barely gets by, but wants more.

He ends up forging his dad’s signature on a permission slip for a field trip to a Horizon Labs demonstration where Peter Parker is unveiling the newly discovered “Parker Particles.”  An accident occurs after Horizon scientist Tyberius Stone, who secretly moonlights for the Kingpin, disengages the safety measures, resulting in Maguire getting zapped and ending up with super powers.  His parents try to sue Horizon, and the world’s foremost experts on superhumans–Reed Richards, Beast, Tony Stark, and Hank Pym–are brought in to study Maguire, revealing that he now has energy projection abilities, super strength, force field projection, and flight, but can only use one power at a time.  Additionally, Reed Richards reveals that he had already discovered “Parker Particles” years before and never made their existence public because they increase in power exponentially, saying that where threats like the Hulk or Phoenix are “Omega-Level Threats,” Maguire is the first “Alpha-Level Threat.”  He tells Peter that the kid is his responsibility, and Horizon’s head honcho Max Modell offers Maguire’s parents coverage for all medical expenses and a lucrative contract instead of a settlement.

Thus, Andy Maguire becomes Alpha, Horizon Labs’ new face and corporate spokesman, and Peter is placed in charge of the Alpha Project. Of course, Maguire is no Peter Parker and all of the new power and fame goes to his head, but let’s not spoil everything, huh?

Slott does a great job of building up Andy Maguire’s character here and really puts you in his shoes at the onset of the story.  Spider-Man with a sidekick is fairly uncharted territory, and the difference in the two’s powers, as well as Alpha’s cocky demeanor, can only complicate things.  Judging by the villain reveal on the last page of the book, things ain’t getting simple anytime soon, either.  Humberto Ramos also delivers some of his best art to date on this issue.  His style has grown so much since his first issue of the book (#648) almost seems like a different artist, and the faces he draws remind me more and more of Todd McFarlane’s style every time I see his art.  Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado definitely make the art pop that much more with their vibrant ink and color jobs.

As for the back-up stories, Dean Haspiel’s “Spider-Man For A Night” draws on Amazing Spider-Man #50, exploring what happened with Spider-Man’s costume on the night that he decided to be “Spider-Man No More” with a conclusion that tugs at the heart-strings.  The story and art are both beautifully done, and the same can be said story-and-art-wise for Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati’s “Just Right,” which finds Pete going through a typical “Parker luck” type of day before ultimately helping someone else have a great day.

Overall, a fitting 50th anniversary issue.  One might be inclined to feel that there could have been a few more shorter features or gag pages (you do get a page with all five of Marcos Martin’s “Spider-Man Through The Decades” variant covers), but Amazing Spider-Man #700 is right around the corner in December, and that’s sure to have plenty of that sort of material if it’s laid out anything like #600 was.  Regardless, I’m definitely interested in seeing where the whole Alpha thing goes, especially with the villain reveal, and the two back-up stories were a great addition.  At least it felt like you were getting a couple of issues for the $5.99 price tag.

Rating: 9/10

P.S. As an aside, I can’t figure out why Marvel would keep The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 out of print during the character’s 50th anniversary year.  Somebody should figure this out, because I have Vol. 2 and no Vol. 1, and spending $200+ for one on eBay would kind of suck.