Meet your friendly neighborhood trickster god.
Dan Slott has been flying solo on Amazing Spider-Man for the better part of a decade now, and that doesn’t even count his many contributions during the series’ Brand New Day era. But even after all that time and with Slott’s Spider-Man saga so close to the end, I still find myself wishing we could get more. The drawback to this current “Threat Level Red” story arc is that Slott and co-writer Christos Gage are telling entertaining stories that could be that much better with a little more space to breathe.
The good news is that issue #795 doesn’t suffer as much as #794 from being crammed into a done-in-one format. Mostly, that’s due to the fact that Slott and Gage aren’t resolving one of their own open plot points, but rather tackling a loose thread that dates all the way back to J. Michael Straczynski’s tenure on the series. In the process, readers get an amusing team-up between Spidey and the current Sorcerer Supreme, Loki. The way the writers revive that loose thread and make it work in the context of Loki’s new status quo is extremely clever.
If this issue proves anything, it’s how natural a fit these two two characters are in their current states. The central theme of Doctor Strange under both Jason Aaron and Donny Cates is that power always has a cost, and that cost must be paid, one way or another. In its own way, that’s not so different from Peter’s classic mantra about power and responsibility. Slott and Gage make great use of these characters’ clashing personalities and motivations, while in the process building an even stronger sense of foreboding leading into “Go Down Swinging.” Who better than the god of mischief to to foreshadow terrible things to come for Spider-Man?
Mike Hawthorne proves to be an inspired choice of artist for this issue. Hawthorne and colorist Marte Gracia capture some of that quirky, supernatural quality of Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s Doctor Strange comics while blending it with the more traditionally superheroic world of Spider-Man. Hawthorne’s ample experience on Deadpool serves him well here, as he juggles a script full of equal parts humor, twisted plot developments and sometimes gruesome action.
Again, it’s just a shame we couldn’t have gotten more of this pairing. Loki’s tenure as Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t seem likely to be a very long-lasting development in the Marvel U, so we may never get another chance. Even with as much as the writers do to explore and strengthen the dynamic between Spidey and Loki, there’s a nagging sense that this pairing could have been fodder for a lengthier crossover. Still, better to leave fans hungry for more than burnt out, right?