Review: Amazing Spider-Man # 2: Anna Maria Baked Cookies
One of the few missteps in the final issue of Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man series was that it spent pages and pages on Mary Jane Watson and Carlie Cooper justifying their decisions to walk out of Peter Parker’s life without giving Anna Maria Marconi the chance to learn that her Peter Parker was really Dr. Octopus… and he’s not coming back.
Right off the bat, Amazing Spider-Man # 2 deals with some of the fallout as Peter tells Anna Maria the truth. Anna Maria not only takes the news surprisingly well (while baking a batch of apparently very delicious cookies), the rest of the issue pretty much ensures that she’ll be sticking around in Peter’s life.
It’s a refreshing twist on an old Spidey formula. Back in the days of the Spider-Marriage, it was Mary Jane who was in on Peter’s secret and she was the one who helped him make excuses for his absence and maintain his double life as a superhero. Now Anna Maria is playing that part, but she’s taking it a step further by mentoring Peter on the science of Dr. Octopus’ inventions which he doesn’t quite understand. There’s currently no romance between Peter and Anna Maria, but it’s not out of the question. I’d say that there’s actually a very good chance that Slott will give that relationship a slow build now that they don’t have any secrets between them.
I was less enamored by the easy way that the Avengers and Johnny Storm just accepted Peter’s explanation that he was mind swapped with Dr. Octopus for months. It may be true, but it’s not a satisfying resolution to the months of mistrust created by the Superior Spider-Man. Instead of making Peter Parker work hard to regain the trust and confidence of his superpowered colleagues, Slott essentially gives it all back to him without lasting consequences. Only the Black Cat’s return to villainy seems to be the new status quo for now.
The one thing I liked about the Avengers scene and Spidey’s reunion with the former Human Torch is that it felt very much in the now. Marvel Now’s timeline has been all over the place, but it just takes a few simple sentences to acknowledge events in other titles that helps make it feel like a unified whole. That said, I have trouble believing that the events of Goblin Nation and the last Venom story all supposedly took place in the last week.
Slott also brings out Electro for the prerequisite superhero fight, which was actually the most uninteresting part of the issue. Presumably, Marvel wanted Electro in the book to tie into his appearance in the Amazing Spider-Man movie. But Slott’s attempts to build up sympathy for Electro seem rushed and Electro’s new love interest meets a horrible fate before the audience ever feels a thing for her.
I’ve never been a big fan of Humberto Ramos’ artwork, but the early pages in which Peter and Anna Maria are simply talking have some nice facial expressions as the characters emote. Later in the book, Ramos goes back to his strangely similar faces for Peter Parker and the Human Torch. The brief interlude with the Avengers also suffered from Ramos’ weird perspective choices. I just don’t like Ramos’ stylistic choices and his characters can be quite ugly at times.
On the story front, Slott is still delivering a pretty entertaining new chapter in the life of Spider-Man. I just wish that Ramos would move on to another book so I can enjoy the art again.