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 read Amazing Spider-Man #17 yet, please avoid this review until you do!!
Mostly what I want to use this review to do is talk about how much I love Anna Maria Marconi as a character. I didn’t read much of Superior Spider-Man (though, I intend to fix that), but what I have seen of her since the return of ASM has blown me away, and this issue just pulls out all the stops to make her awesome. Anna Maria Marconi is a little person (which I hope is the politically correct term, and please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and, as such, is a member of a minority so under-represented in comics that there aren’t even very many characters to COMPLAIN about, let alone praise. And yet, she is consistently written to be strong, confident, and unwilling to take shit from anyone. Plus, she’s so damn likable. She’s a positive example of a woman in comics, and would be impressive even without her being a part of another minority on top of that. This book opens with her and Pete at dinner with Aunt May and Uncle Jay (Gah… did they have to make their names rhyme?), and while Peter fumbles over what excuse to give Aunt May for why he hasn’t proposed yet, Anna just says “What Peter is trying to say is we broke up.” This type of thing happens consistently throughout the issue. She covers for his powers during Ghost’s attack, she covers for why Spider-Man might show up during the attack by reminding everyone that he uses the back entrance to Peter’s lab to “get his tech.” She even bests Pete in an argument where he was refusing to web sling them to the office, because they might be seen by people, saying, “People will just assume he’s looking out for me again. See? Simple. Now spider-up chop-chop. Or do you have some other overwrought neurosis I need to shoot down?” Bam! Owned, Pete! Get over yourself and do what the smart lady tells you! I love Anna, and she was totally the hero of this issue, so good on Slott and company there.
Okay, let’s talk the rest of the issue. The main conflict revolves around Ghost attacking Parker industries to bring down the test environment for the new super prison that they are building. You’ll recall he was hired to do this by Parker’s competitors Alchemax, who needed insurance that Parker Industries wouldn’t get the contract. The attack serves as a challenge for Pete, who now has to save people while not giving away that he’s Spider-Man (which he is successful at doing thanks in no small part to Anna Maria Marconi, as I pointed out earlier), but mostly exists to show some more character development (or maybe just reveal more characterization) for Sajani, who has never been on board with the super prison plan. The fact that she is willing to work with Ghost to sabotage the prison, though, reveals her to be more ruthless and cunning than we have seen up to this point. That should not be much of a surprise, really, since she originally partnered with Peter Parker while Otto was in control of him. I liked this turn for her. I like seeing how far Sajani will go for her own personal goals, and that she will go around Peter and even ally herself with a super villain against him to do it. It gives her more definition—and certainly more guts—as a character.
On the other hand, there isn’t much on the Peter Parker/Spider-Man side of this issue to recommend it. He does some rescuing during the action sequence, and he turns up as Spider-Man just in time to see Sajani’s betrayal blow up in her face, but this doesn’t feel like much of a Spider-Man issue. I’m okay with that. It’s cool to have an issue where the side characters shine a bit more, but if you’re buying ASM for awesome Spidey antics, this issue was a bit light on those.
BONUS: Black Cat in “Repossession” Part 2
This is the second in the running series of what is essentially, “Black Cat Gets Her Groove Back,” and it… honestly wasn’t very good. I really thought that the first in the Repossession brought a lot of freshness to her character, but this issue didn’t add very much at all. It showed her being ruthless to someone other than super villains, I suppose, and it showed readers just how much she had achieved in regaining her belongings. But really it just existed to lead up to the scene showing Felicia about to break into the Parker/Jameson residence and steal back the one thing she failed to win at auction.
I thought I would be happier to see Black Cat back in action doing some actual cat burglary, but it didn’t seem to stick the landing for me (pun intended). Maybe it was just too short, or maybe I just didn’t see the meaningfulness of this particular re-acquisition, but, either way, it felt like a waste of pages to me. Hopefully, whatever these are building towards (which I can only assume is a showdown between Spidey and Black Cat) will be worth the investment.