Image Courtesy of Marvel.com
Spoilers: Keep in mind that my method of reviewing involves spoilers for purposes of analysis. If you care about being spoiled and have not readAmazing Spider-Man #16 yet, please avoid this review until you do!!
This is the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man after the Spider-Verse event, and part of Slott and company’s goal with this issue seems to be to re-establish what a normal Spidey book feels like. To that end, they start it off with a fight against a villain named “Iguana”: a giant anthropomorphic lizard who is a sort of reptile rights activist. While this beginning feels a bit jarring, it’s a very effective way to create a clean break from a huge event like Spider-Verse and jump headfirst into the everyday perils of Spider-Man. Would I have liked a slightly more gradual transition? Yeah, probably… It feels weird for Peter to barely even reference the Spider-Verse event (he makes one mention of Morlun draining his life force, but that’s it), but I understand Slott not wanting to devote ANOTHER issue towards tying up Spider-Verse. Further, I get that, from a publication standpoint, it’s nice to have Spider-Verse tied up neatly for the collected edition.
The way that Slott goes about showing the everyday challenges of Spider-Man while still pushing the plot forward is smart. To a large extent, this issue is about how Peter balances his super heroing with his normal life. The fact that the opening fight with Iguana is punctuated with phone conversations with Aunt May, Anna Marie Marconi, and Sajani Jaffrey demonstrates, in both a metaphorical and also very real sense, the way that Peter’s double lives impede each other (the fact that Iguana gets indignant about Spider-Man phoning in the fight—pun intended—also helps to maintain the level of lighthearted humor we expect from your everyday Spider-Man issue).
Additionally, this issue helps to set up for a continuing plot centered around the success or failure of Peter Parker’s super-prison idea (a prison focused on depowering and rehabilitating villains), which was heavily in play before the Spider-Verse event happened, and the quick return to putting the prison in focus helps to create a continuous plot trajectory with issues 1-6 of ASM. All the old tensions return. Pete is still struggling with the awkwardness of his relationship with Otto’s ex-girlfriend Anna Marie Marconi, we see the continued building of conflict between him and Sajani. To compound matters, we are also introduced to Alchemax, who are clearly set up to be both the corporate and super villain antagonists for the arc, thus focusing Peter’s double lives onto one target that he must tackle as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
All in all, I enjoyed this issue. Since we always seem to be jumping from major comic event to major comic event (which is indeed what we are doing with Secret Wars coming up in May), it’s easy to lose sight of what is fun about the “minor” issues: the day-to-day super hero antics that made us fall in love with these characters in the first place. ASM #16 hits a lot of those marks. It’s not an incredible issue by any means, but it’s a fun one.
BONUS: Black Cat in “Repossession”
So this issue contained a bonus bit at the end, focusing on Black Cat in her new job as a crime boss operating out of the Slide-Away Casino. The main purpose of this addition seems to be to tie what Black Cat is doing into what is happening in the other spider books. She deals with a villain called The Ringer after his run in with Silk, and we find out that Felicia was who we saw earlier in this issue, at the auction, buying back all of her old stuff. There’s not a lot to this little additional section except that it shows Felicia becoming more cold-hearted and ruthless, which serves to both remind us of what she was doing before the Spider-Verse break and also start to build her towards becoming a terrifying super villain (which is something that Black Cat has never really been). This also serves as a sort of glue holding these books together (she also makes cameos in Silk’s comic), so we know where everything fits. I’m not sure why they have chosen to use Black Cat to be that glue, but I am excited to see what they plan to do with her. Hopefully, they will do something to justify her constant cameos in both of these titles