Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 4) #10 is the issue I’ve been waiting for since the debut of this new All-New, All-Different, Iron Man-inspired status quo. Not only does it finally explain exactly how Parker Industries was able to become the worldwide mega-company it is today, rising from literal ashes in a mere eight months, but it is the first issue that successfully balances all the things that we’ve come to love about Spider-Man over the years with all the crazier elements of this new volume.
To me, it is no coincidence that my positive feelings towards this comic have much to do with the lip service this issue provides towards the idea that even after you strip Peter of all his newfound power, he’s still a force to be reckoned with as Spider-Man. The Spidey in this issue is smart, resourceful, reckless, humorous, and willing to risk everything to do what’s right. That’s not to say that he hasn’t been portrayed this way in previous issues of this volume, but here it all gels mainly due to an ever-present threat and clearly laid out goals for the character. This is absolutely the best Dan Slott-penned interpretation of Peter Parker since his post-Superior return.
The book starts with a sequence of real tension: Spider-Man is laid out before Scorpio, stripped of his gadgetry and at the mercy of a man who literally has time on his side. The fight between the two transpires in a classic way, with Scorpio endangering the gathering onlookers and forcing Spider-Man into a tricky situation. It is genuinely disappointing that the scene ends on a bit of a cheat, with Scorpio being called off for dubious reasons involving a still-undefined use of fortune-telling, but it’s a dramatic scene nevertheless, especially in how it utilizes the city of Paris and its denizens in a compelling and meaningful way.
What follows is a multi-faceted, action-packed, chase between Spider-Man (and friends!) and Scorpio through the underwater Chunnel that connects Paris with London. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli is at his best when he’s illustrating aerial superheroics involving our arachnid-themed hero and thankfully Slott’s script gives him plenty of opportunities to do so here. Camuncoli abandons his characteristically narrow paneling for some wonderful splashes of high-speed action, all of which help to further emphasize the incredibly dangerous nature of this fight. Horizontal lines fill the page, as details zip by the impossibly fast-moving Chunnel cars. Even better, Slott falls back into classical Spider-Man action storytelling by emphasizing both Peter’s willpower and his management of his reduced powers, all told through appropriately paced thought-blocks.
Even more fun than all that, Peter has both Anna Maria and the Living Brain (aka Otto Octavius) in tow for the action. The three make for quite the strange team, especially as Otto sweet-talks Anna while making sometimes helpful and sometimes creepy comments towards Peter. Mainly, it is just great to get some genuinely wonderful character beats alongside a big action spectacle without them coming across as a forced attempt at humor. As the book builds towards its conclusion, the rest of the Parker Industries cast is called upon to aid in the Zodiac’s destruction and the book finally achieves the international, large-scale scope that it has been reaching towards since its inception.
This is when it is revealed how exactly Parker Industries when from rags to riches to quickly during the post-“Secret Wars” time gap. The answer is a bit of magical thinking and a little simplistic, but comes at a time when some manner of explanation has been long overdue. Even with this “answer,” I continue to have my reservations about how Slott structured the reveals of his story, frontlining the reveals about the Zodaic, so that all the details Spidey learns in this issue we already know, and stalling on the details about Parker Industries’ rise, which would have added tension to the previous stories that teased its downfall.
Additionally, Slott inserts several teases for his upcoming “Dead No More” story in the form of the Man in Red and the Rhino breaking the Lizard and Max Dillon out of prison. The sequence adds some intrigue and a few more hints into the mystery of the Man in Red’s identity and plans, but does come at the cost of cutting away from the high-speed, high-tension action that dominates the rest of the book. Without these moments the rest of the issue would have likely maintained a stronger momentum.
Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 4) #10 is a marked improvement for this series, as it fully utilizes all the elements that have made Spider-Man fun to read over the years while successfully embracing the newest additions afforded by this status quo change. Guiseppe Camuncoli has never been better, especially with the support of Marte Gracia’s psychedelic, yet gloomy coloring. Slott even manages to introduce a twist that would allow him to undo all the changes without dragging Peter down with them. To that point, this issue is a nail-biting penultimate chapter in the first major storyline of the All-New, All-Different Amazing Spider-Man era.