[WARNING – The Following Review Contains Spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #17.]
Marvel stirred up a lot of buzz in April when they announced Amazing Spider-Man – Dead No More. As we inch ever closer to the highly anticipated story arc, Dan Slott and company have been introducing readers to some of the characters and elements destined to play a big role in that story. Amazing Spider-Man #17 is the second chapter of Before Dead No More and the pre-release hype boasted that not one but two classic Spider-Man characters would die in this issue!
The issue opens with Peter Parker sending his buddy The Prowler (Hobie Brown) to a facility on the West Coast, in order to to investigate a revolutionary biomedical company called “New U”. After silencing communications with his boss, Prowler infiltrates the compound and discovers The Jackal, The Lizard and Martha Connors attempting to restore the powers of Max Dillon – aka Electro!
After failing to do so successfully, Max’s recently resurrected lady companion, Francine, absorbs the powers of Electro, killing Max in the process. Prowler tries to intervene but is overpowered and killed before he can get a message out to Peter. Hobie is then resurrected by The Jackal and swayed into joining their operation.
There’s so much to celebrate in this issue. One of Dan Slott’s major attributes as a writer is setting up wonderfully dramatic stories. The focus of this issue is on The Prowler and Slott goes all-out on making him stand on his own and shine as a character. This may serve as a preview of the solo book The Prowler will be getting in October. The origin and intro for this new Electro is fantastic, even if it comes at the expense of poor Max Dillon. Having The Lizard and his wife involved adds a layer of scientific and dramatic security.
The biggest accomplishment of Amazing Spider-Man heading into Dead No More is the mysterious revisiting of The Jackal. It’s about time this classic villain was updated and given new purpose… even if it still seems to heavily involve clones. Slott doesn’t always conclude his big stories as flawlessly as he sets them up but there’s no denying his ability to write a well-crafted comic book.
The first image of Spider-Man in this book, even if it’s actually Hobie, is one of the best panels to date featuring the current costume. The combined efforts of R.B. Silva & Marte Gracia make this a joyous spectacle from cover-to-cover. This issue and Amazing Spider-Man #16 introduced a number of new character designs and all of them are absolute home-runs. The Prowler’s costume has always been underrated but this take on the design may be the best incarnation ever. The new Electro design is a fresh take on a classic look – a much better ensemble than Max Dillon had been sporting in recent years. And I can’t get enough of the re-imagining Jackal has been treated to.
Amazing Spider-Man #17 does an exceptional job at getting readers to buy into the hype surrounding Dead No More and does so without being cheap or lazy. This issue stands on its own as a great read and how it fits into the much bigger picture should have readers begging Dan Slott for more. The only concern going forward is that the characters dying and being resurrected as easily as occurs here eliminates any threat or weight the story might possess. I have faith, however, that Dan Slott & company can deliver the Spider-Man masterpiece that everyone is hungry for.