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Peter Parker, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Marco Manalac

The Amazing Spider-Man #005 is out today in local stores, and it’s a great way to get yourself pumped up for the holidays. This fifth issue of the new volume is the last chapter of the first arc, meaning we get a conclusion of sorts to the whole Zodiac mess.

But what makes this issue truly stand out is the supporting cast. The Amazing Spider-Man still revolves around our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but it looks and feels like an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If I were to read the issue without any cover, I would think that it was a team-book, and not a solo title of the World’s Greatest Super Hero. And I mean that in a good way. It’s very cool to see Peter Parker not only joining a team, but also leading it. He’s never going to outrank Agent Nick Fury, but in terms of operations, he is in charge of the team tracking and taking down the international terrorist group Zodiac.

And Spider-Man’s team is mighty impressive. Mockingbird, who has been making a name for herself on T.V. as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Spider-Man’s second-in-command, and we get a lot of her highlights this issue. A trippy moment is when Spider-Man’s team of agents confronts the Zodiac, and Sagittarius tries to stop them in their tracks, declaring that he is the “world’s greatest archer,” to Mockingbird’s amusement. We all know that Mockingbird’s classic romantic interest is Hawkeye, so she would know a thing or two about archers. Very nonchalantly, she tells Spider-Man not to worry about Sagittarius, and that she will handle him. Sagittarius doesn’t even challenge Mockingbird, as expected. Actually, most of Zodiac’s members are defeated easily, with Scorpio as the exception.

The Human Torch is also a fun standout among Spider-Man’s new team members. There isn’t any bickering or squabbling between Spider-Man and the Human Torch this time around. Now they are working together like a well-oiled machine. We even get a panel where the Human Torch just watches Peter Parker in amazement, stunned by his friend’s leadership status and qualities. I mean, if you can get Nick Fury behind you, following your lead, then you know you have what it takes to lead a S.H.I.E.L.D. operation. Such a statement is even clearer when you have fan-favorite agents like Daisy and Coulson backing you up and providing extra muscle for your operation. Fans of the ABC T.V. series will enjoy this issue very much, as they’ll be able to see a lot of their favorite onscreen heroes get some wild, fun, comic book action.

The big reveal at the end of the issue is quite a shocker. Readers discover that Mr. Jacobs, Parker Industries’ chief shareholder is in fact Scorpio, the leader and mastermind of Zodiac. That means that the biggest financial supporter of Parker Industries is also the greatest and most powerful enemy that Spider-Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. face today. The twists and turns just keep coming and coming. And with the reveal, Scorpio is elevated to an A-List villain. We also get a better picture of his true, cruel intentions.

While Spider-Man and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are able to stop and capture most of the Zodiac members, Scorpio is able to escape and get what he came for. Zodiac attacked the British Museum, destroyed the Rosetta Stone, and grabbed an ancient-looking bowl from inside, with mysterious rocks inside. The significance of this treasure has yet to be unveiled, but Scorpio definitely thinks it is an item or artifact of great power.

If you read the last page of the book, you’ll see The Amazing Spider-Mail section, where readers get to write in their thoughts on the comic and its direction. In the words of the editor Nick Lowe, “people are really torn about Peter’s newfound success!” So while Spider-Man’s new status is polarizing, one cannot deny the buzz that the book is creating. I don’t have any hard data or statistics with me right now, but I think that will equate to better sales no matter what. People want to know what all the fuss is about. And as this first arc of the new volume ends, it’s clear that Spider-Man is changing internally, as well as shifting the universe’s status quo and evolving the world of superheroes as we know it. Take it as Spider-Man’s rise to fame, or just another blockbuster superhero team book, you’ll only want to read on even more after finishing this latest issue. Be sure to grab a copy of #006 in two weeks when Spider-Man visits Shanghai and meets an old enemy in Mr. Negative. Apparently, Mr. Negative now has Cloak and Dagger as his minions. I’m already dying to know how that happened and what it means for two of Spider-Man’s longtime street-level superhero friends.

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