Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
We’re in the last three chapters of this book. Spider-Man was last seen chasing Carnage to one of the last places you’d want him to go on a good day but on this occasion even more so. It’s sure to be a big epic battle!
And we’re focused on Aunt May and Mary Jane at the bank. Seems like odd timing, but I did check ahead and it’s not all that happens in the chapter. So let’s get on with the review.
I’m trying to understand what the “Aunt May is going to lose the house” subplot is about. The best I figure is that the writers wanted to show what Mary Jane brings to Spidey’s dynamic as she can cover for Peter and in this case come up with a way to help May out. The problem is I think it’s showing what the problem with Aunt May is as the series has gone on. For those of you who don’t follow the comics: at one point around the 90s Aunt May dies of old age, probably the only time a character in Peter’s life has ever completed their life cycle without some villain doing the deed. That was a perfect send off for May.
The thing is, and this may sound cruel, the series didn’t need her anymore. She represented part of Peter’s attempts to balance his various responsibilities as both Peter Parker and as Spider-Man. However, now he had a wife and could potentially have children (not under the usual Spider-Writers who still wish they could stick Peter back in high school, as indicated by the more recent iterations of Spidey), so May didn’t need to serve that function. Basically, Aunt May is there to keep Peter back so he can’t advance as a character, as shown when suddenly dead May turns out to be a hired actress in one of the most convoluted periods in the Spider-Man franchise, the infamous “Clone Saga” simply being the most egregious example. So while this subplot is highlight what works about MJ it also shows why Aunt May no longer adds anything significant to Peter’s life and should have been allowed to be the first guiltless passing in Peter’s life so the character can move forward.
As for the opening moments of the fight (we’ll have to see it end next chapter), we do get to see how smart Spidey is as he gets the vial away from Carnage safely. I do like seeing the hero use their brains as well as their great powers or gadgets. We also see that sometimes the warning from his spider-sense, the power that warns him of danger, doesn’t always come fast enough to avoid the villain or other threat, which keeps it from being too powerful. Spidey can be surprised if you do it fast enough, so it’s not a get out of pounding free card.
Meanwhile, we also get a little bit of the charity Carnage is coming to ruin. It’s a bit of commentary about the event. The homeless are there to get a decent meal that even the homeless shelters couldn’t provide, the caterers are there to earn money to feed their families, and none of it is made to look bad. As for the rich only being there for the publicity and easing their conscience…it comes off a bit cynical but I’m sure for at least some of them there it’s not entirely inaccurate. I’d like to think some of them have loftier reasons but the writers don’t even attempt to come up with any. How about “we do our best to ensure there aren’t more homeless by getting people jobs but there is only so much we can do since money isn’t a magic wand” or something along those likes. I will say that the social workers and other related shelter staff should have used this as an opportunity to convince those rich people to donate money to these shelters even after this event so they can feed everyone and not have to rely solely on free charity workers, or to highlight just how bad it is that some of these people could find a place to live if any of the livable apartments (you know, the ones that look like they should be set on fire just to reduce the bug and rodent population) weren’t so darn expensive. I’ll stop here because I think I overdid my social commentary quota last night.
Next chapter is the end of the fight as we near the end of Spider-Man: Carnage In New York.