The Potential Left in the Margins: "Amazing Spider-Man #695"

Michael D. Stewart

We could spend a long time digging into the minutiae of problems facing Amazing Spider-Man #695, but that would ignore the larger picture…

Amazing Spider-Man #695

Publisher: Marvel
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2012-12

The “brand new day” is coming to an end, at least that’s the prophesy coming out of Amazing Spider-Man over the last few issues. In Amazing Spider-Man #695, particularly, the prophesies are fast, furious and tied to a marketing campaign as Marvel tries to reset the clock by not actually resting anything, just shaking up their creative teams and direction. That the march to Amazing Spider-Man #700 coincides with the Marvel NOW campaign is probably coincidence, impeccable timing and good fortune. It, however, has the adverse effect of diminishing the dramatic build-up to the title’s milestone issue. And it’s not the only factor limiting the impact of the march to #700.

Many fans will be relieved that Alpha is behind us (not even mentioned in this issue) and that Amazing Spider-Man #695 picks up on the prior storyline of Hobgoblins, the Kingpin and spider-sense. When Spider-Man lost his spider-sense many issues ago, it was a logical sacrifice that seemed ripe to explore the man behind the powers. That happened to an extent, but the narrative thread took a backseat to the more pressing gadgets and tricks of Peter Parker's current employment at Horizon Labs. Parker’s scientific knowledge was pushed front and center and he learned kung-fu so he didn’t need to rely on his innate spider abilities as much. While certainly an interesting development, it lacked the punch and consequences of a man operating without one his senses.

In Amazing Spider-Man #695, writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage take the idea of playing with Spider-Man’s powers and ratchet it up to 11. His spider-sense becomes overactive, consequently limiting his focus, just at a time when he needs to focus the most.

We all know that in five-issues-time this will all conclude and the status-quo will change again. It leads to the appearance of making this second attempt at messing with Spider-Man’s powers to be a momentary distraction. There is a classic element to this challenge to Spider-Man’s abilities (or any comic hero for that matter), as there has been a long tradition of taking away or adding faculties. It is curious to see how this latest attempt will play out, considering the previous effort was punch-less and buried the consequences in favor of a heavily repeated reminder that Peter Parker is a scientist.

If there is a theme of the last dozen issues of Amazing Spider-Man it’s not of hanging narrative threads, but rather a lack of maximizing potential. From manipulating spider-powers, to character relationships, to characterizations, to villain usage, Amazing Spider-Man has been the title with much to offer, but never completely capitalizing on any of it.

Slott and his editors have shown a desire to evolve the characterization of Peter Parker, but for each step forward, the creative team tends to stall their advancement by pulling out narrative tricks and gimmicks. One such trick is the use of Madame Web and her visions of the future. It’s a narrative shortcut to add tension without having to build any from the plot up. In Amazing Spider-Man #695, the Madame Web vision is thankfully used so that there is some consequence, yet it seems more suited to marketing Marvel NOW.

The visual presentation from penciler Giuseppe Camuncoli, inker Dan Green and colorist Antonio Fabela is not aided by the narrative lapses. Camuncoli’s sketchy style is dependent on a clear direction, and Green and Fabela’s work can only highlight and enhance panels so much. It’s not that artistic storytelling is so far off the mark, but that the scripted scenes, their placement and position within the whole doesn’t aid the execution of the art team.

It’s the execution of both the writing and art that on some pages looks brilliant and other pages looks sloppy. Take for example the bottom panel of page six; Spider-Man must be able to see through walls to notice Tiberius Stone on the roof above while he’s inside the bar fighting. The point of the revelation is obvious, but the placement of characters and narration is an example of not securing the story while it’s in flux.

We could spend a long time digging into the minutiae of problems facing Amazing Spider-Man #695, but that would ignore the larger picture. While there is much to admire about Slott’s work at plotting so many storylines and keeping them fairly coherent, it must be said how much potential is being left in the margins. Visions of the future are fine, but don’t let them handicap your efforts, especially on the march to a milestone issue.





Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.


'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.


Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.


Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.


Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.


Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.


12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.