Waiting for the Trade
Amazing Spider-man: Flying Blind
Written by Dan Slott & Mark WaidIllustrated by Humberto Ramos, Emma Rios, Giuseppe Camuncoli &
Collects Amazing Spiderman 674-677 and Daredevil 8
Why I Bought This: It features Black Cat, who is my favorite character in the Spider-verse. Interestingly it took me two years to track this thing down. Twice I went to several stores on Free Comic Book Day and none of them carried this trade. I finally bought it on Amazon a few weeks ago for about $7.
The Plot: The Black Cat story sees her accused of a crime and Spidey getting DD to defend her. There are also stories involving the Vulture running a teen gang and the Sinister Six battling the Intelligentsia.
Chapter 1 – A dude in wings falls from the sky to his death. We find there have been a rash of falling deaths of late, which police chalk up to the recently concluded “Spider-Island” arc: the theory is people who got spider-powers in that story are web slinging when their powers cut out and they die. Meanwhile Kingpin is sad that his spider powers cut out but cheers up when a Horizon employee offers to sell him spider-sense jammers. Meanwhile Spidey wins a fight with some robot cops. Meanwhile we see a teen runaway recruited into the flying gang. Meanwhile MJ and Glory Grant go clubbing. Meanwhile Peter and Carlie Cooper bump into each other for the first time since breaking up. They realize they are both working on the same case and agree to work together. Meanwhile teen recruit boy learns this gang is being run by the Vulture.
Chapter 2 – Spidey and Carlie do some CSI stuff at the police lab. Vulture tells the new kid for being in his gang: they get to fly around and steal stuff for him then at the end of the day they get to keep a little bit for themselves. Then for some inexplicable reason we see Vulture’s head out is above the club MJ and Gloria are at. The gang kids exit through the club and pick a fight with Glory’s boyfriend. This prompts MJ to call Peter just as he and Carlie had deduced Vulture’s scheme so Spidey heads off to the club (without Carlie). The Vulture boys execute a mid-air heist but new kid has too much conscience for Tooms' liking so he cuts the power to his wings. Spidey saves him in the nick of time. Spidey then fights the kids (who have laser scythes) as Carlie arrives. She deduces the Vulture operates all their wings on remote and tells Spidey so he can use magnetic webbing to jam the single. Vulture retaliates by throwing a car at Carlie but Spidey saves her. Vulture escapes. Carlie decides she can trust Spidey enough to work with him, though she is still upset he kept his identity from her when they were dating. The book ends with Carlie going to see MJ to talk about Peter.
Chapter 3 – Doc Ock’s debuts a bulky exoskeleton look as his call to his together his latest Sinister Six of Sandman, Chameleon, Rhino, Electro and Mysterio for one final big plan (Ock is terminally ill as of ASM 600). Chameleon has infiltrated the Intelligentsia (a group of super smart Hulk and FF villains originally led by the Leader but now led by Modok). The Intelligentsia takes down some Russian superheroes with a teleporter ray that sends its target into orbit. Ock wants their weapon so the Sinister Six attack them. The rest of the issue is a big fight that Ock’s team ultimately wins allowing them to take possession of Modok’s tech.
Chapter 4 – Pete is down in the dumps about Carlie dumping him and decides to take out his frustrations on some muggers when low and behold the Black Cat crosses his path. He perks up and hits on her but Felicia refuses to be the rebound girl. When she gets to her apartment she finds a spider tracer on her costume and then police bust in and arrest her. The next morning Pete goes to Horizon to learn that Felicia was arrested for stealing from the lab. He knows she is innocent since he was fighting the crooks with her when this went down. Pete tracks down Daredevil and asks him to help clear Felicia. Felicia meanwhile has already broken out of police custody. Spidey and DD come across a hostage situation but when DD doesn’t register it Pete realizes it is all an illusion as it was a hologram projector stolen from Horizon. They make their way into a tunnel which then collapses and as Pete tries to crawl out he has the bad luck to grab a livewire as we see Felicia standing over the heroes.
Chapter 5 – Foggy Nelson discovers the grave of Matt’s father has been dug up. DD recovers and takes out the fuse box before Spidey dies. He grabs Felicia and she says wasn’t trying to kill Spidey just hurt him for leading the police to her apartment with his tracer. Spidey denies that and everyone agrees to work together. They search for clues and find a guy locked in a closet. He’s the one who sold Horizon out. DD detects the dude is poisoned and has Spidey rush him to the hospital. While Spidey is gone DD asks Felicia to steal something for him based on some conspiracy going on his own title with a group called Black Spectre. They take out some generic thugs and disable an elaborate security system. The last safeguard are the holograms which DD ignores. DD and Felicia share a kiss after they complete the theft. Then a flashback is actually working for these Spectre people and the whole frame-up of her was a ruse to let her get close to DD. Meanwhile Pete sees them making out and leaves (with the funny line “I think this is my super villain origin”). DD takes Felicia home but before they can do the deed Matt gets the phone call from Foggy about his father’s grave.
Critical Thoughts: I’ll take these on in order. I found the Vulture story to be a perfectly acceptable comic book story. It’s not reinventing the wheel but it’s a fine use of one of Spidey’s classic second tier rogues. I also found the personal life stuff with Peter and Carlie to be well written and serve the purpose of setting a new status quo for them. I never hated Carlie like so many other fans did. I certainly get the general hate for the ending of Peter’s marriage to MJ, particularly the way it was done; but I don’t think that should prejudice us against every new love interest that comes down the pike in this title. I think Carlie is a fine supporting character: she’s not great but she’s not terrible. More importantly whether Peter dates her or not she can serve a role in the title as his contact on the police force, something the titles have been missing since the death of Jean DeWolf and that fits a good niche in Spider-man’s street crime milieu. I suppose the only real flaw with the story is the ridiculousness of Vulture (who is a senior citizen) keeping his headquarters over a nightclub and that MJ happens to go that same nightclub at just the right time to lead Peter there, but it’s not like Stan Lee and Gerry Conway didn’t use the same type of coincidences all the time in their Spidey stories.
I was not over fond of the Sinister Six vs. Intelligentsia battle. Slott really upped the Six’s threat level his run on the title (they would go on to take out the Avengers in a subsequent story arc). While I’m not one to complain about taking villains seriously, I think this reads more like a downgrade of the Intelligentsia than an upgrade for the Six; which is a real shame since the team was just debuted a year earlier to be major Hulk villains so why ruin that credibility so soon? I suppose you could say without the Leader they are not at their full strength but it still strikes me as an unnecessary choice.
Onto the main event, I enjoyed the Black Cat story quite a bit. Admittedly I am prone to liking Black Cat stories anyway but I thought this one was a fun use of her ambiguous relationship with the law and keeping the reader guessing which side she is really on. I can’t say I love the idea of Felicia hooking up with DD but since it is ultimately revealed she’s playing him I’m okay with it. So much so that I went out and bought the DD trade that follows this arc up, and I almost never buy DD trades. Again much like the Vulture story it’s not going to go down in the annals of great Spidey stories but it uses conventional story-telling and familiar characters well.
Grade: B. I wouldn’t want to pay full price for this but for what Amazon sells it for it is a rather entertaining collection of Spidey stories.