Amazing Spider-Man #17
Written by Dan Slott
Art by R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto and Marte Gracia
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Editor's Note: This article does not contain spoilers about the event of the issue.
After a lengthy wind-up, writer Dan Slott throws readers more than a few curveballs in Amazing Spider-Man #17 - but while there’s a few big change-ups to Peter Parker’s universe, none might be more satisfying than the addition of R.B. Silva to this title, whose expressive and fluid artwork lends a wonderful energy to the Jackal’s clone-centric storyline.
If there’s one drawback to Amazing Spider-Man #17, it’s that Slott might spend less time with Spider-Man himself than he did even in the last chapter, instead focusing on Peter Parker’s costumed comrade Hobie Brown as he investigates the Jackal’s clone technology company New U. But like I’ve said in previous issues - and as Marvel clearly understands, just based on the fact he’s getting his own spin-off series - Hobie is a real charmer, as he banters back and forth with Peter.
“You’re the worst boss I’ve ever had,” Hobie snarks. “Before me, you were self-employed,” Peter quips back, before Hobie spikes it: “Yep. Now there was a great boss. Generous and handsome.”
But Hobie also proves to be a great foil for Spider-Man in other ways - not only is he agile and tech-savvy, but he also is a nice moral peer for Peter Parker, raising his own ethical concerns when Peter essentially asks him to engage in corporate espionage.
While the Prowler gets some great bits in this issue, Slott also comes up with some smart twists to the Jackal and his crew here. Thus far, “Dead No More” has felt like a very villain-centric arc, with the return of the Lizard and Electro in previous issues, but here Slott gives some humanity to even the clones the Jackal has resurrected, like Max Dillon’s old girlfriend Francine. Slott’s explanation for Francine’s ill-fated relationship with Electro is particularly compelling, as she’s a villain-loving thrillseeker:
“Our world sucks. It’s all just bills and jobs and boring crap,” she tells us in a narration. “But sometimes, I get to play in their world. And that’s when I feel alive.”
While Electro gets the lion’s share of the villain storyline this issue, Slott also gives us some fun clues to the Jackal’s latest plan - while previous iterations have made him a giggling maniac, there seems to be some nuance and even purpose to this masked man’s master plan.
But the real hook for this issue has to be R.B. Silva on art. Silva’s come a long way since the days of DC's Jimmy Olsen, but teaming him with colorist Marte Gracia is real stroke of genius from editors Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis - Silva has this beautiful expressiveness to his characters, while Gracia’s gradients add a depth his work that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The result is R.B. Silva, super-charged, and his cartoony style winds up feeling like a perfect fit for both Spider-Man and the Prowler as they swing through the air and cling to the ceiling during a late night breaking-and-entering. If there’s any minor hiccups here, it might just be that inker Adriano Di Benedetto feels a little thin with his inks - what characters as evocative as Silva’s, a more lush style of inks like a Dexter Vines might go a long way to giving these characters the right kind of weight. But that aside, Silva has laid out action sequences magnificently here, and really imbues Slott’s characters with the kind of likability and charm that his dialogue does.
That said, Amazing Spider-Man #17 might not be for everyone - as far as arcs go, this moves much slower than Slott’s usual work, and that might lead to some frustration for readers who have been hankering to see Peter get a little closer to his roots following his international war on the Zodiac. Instead of Slott’s traditional formula of character-driven action, there’s been a lot of exposition and narrative seed-planting with this arc, and while he begins to pay some of that off in some bigger moments this issue, it still feels a little like a departure from what made this series so great to begin with. But it’s obvious from anyone who’s ever read his work that Dan Slott lives and breathes Spider-Man, and if anyone has earned readers’ trust to wait an issue or two, it’s him. This isn’t an opening salvo as much as it is the calm before the storm, and with R.B. Silva at his side, even this slow burn of a comic looks truly, well… amazing.