This week in Marvel Comics, the weekly BEYOND event comes to a conclusion in Amazing Spider-Man #93! It’s featured in our main review, with plenty of SPOILERS about the issue.
Scroll down for a bonus review of Hulk: Grand Design – Monster, and further to the Rapid Rundown for brief, spoiler-lite reviews of Silk #3, X-Men Unlimited Latitude #1, and Immortal X-Men #1. Plus, be sure and let us know what you thought of this week’s Marvel Comics releases here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat!
Amazing Spider-Man #93
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artists: Patrick Gleason; Sara Pichelli; Mark Bagley and Tim Townsend
Colorists: Bryan Valenza; Carlos Lopez
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Main Cover: Arthur Adams and Alejandro Sánchez
Beyond Board: Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saladin Ahmed, Patrick Gleason, and Wells
The Beyond event has occupied the panels of ASM for nineteen main issues (plus five “.BEY” tie-ins and a few additional one-shots, like the tie-in to a more different event issue The Death of Doctor Strange: Spider-Man #1 by Jed MacKay, Marcelo Ferreira, Wayne Faucher, Andrew Crossley with Peter Pantazis, and Caramagna, which saw Reilly teaming up with Black Cat to cross twenty-two items off a to-do list the late Stephen Strange left for the web-slinger).
Overall, the Beyond event was a worthy experiment. Giving the title to a series of rotating creative teams afforded a break in business-as-usual for the extremely long-running ASM title. Better yet, rather than putting a rotating group of different creators on yet another Spider-Verse-style story, Beyond broke new ground by telling a daring tale that saw Ben Reilly as a Beyond Corporation sponsored Spider-Man while Parker fell into a coma due to radiation poisoning.
From this framework, the Beyond event explored its concepts from a variety of different angles. In some issues, we saw the moral implications that flowed from the heavy reliance on dubious technology that was utilized by the Beyond Spider-Man, such as the amount of fuel that flying around the city using the jet pack burned. In others, we saw Parker recovering in the hospital. As the event went on, the number of possible protagonists and storylines for any given issue only seemed to grow.
In ASM #93.BEY, which I called “The Return of the King of comics books” in my blurb for the Rundown a few weeks ago, many of the hanging plot threads were brought to a conclusion, allowing for the stage to be cleared for the final climactic showdown between Reilly and Parker.
Part of the benefit of the Beyond storyline has been the weird science, and that is fully represented in this final issue, although it works better in some cases (flooding parts of a building with quantum-shifting polymers in a psycho-reactive medium, which leads to both trippy visuals and an important narrative development) than others (the “Infantalizer,” whose introduction isn’t really justified by its one-panel visual joke payoff).
One aspect of this issue (and Beyond in general) that was especially strong was the decision to give Reilly’s tale a tragic turn. For one thing, we all kind of knew that the Beyond Corporation was offering Reilly a Faustian agreement all along… and those can never really end well, can they?
Plus, as explained in the editor’s note by Nick Lowe that follows the issue, Parker is here to stay, and that sort of made Reilly narratively redundant. However, storytelling necessities like this can sometimes lead to a character’s most interesting developments, so let’s hope that will prove true in this instance.
While not everything in ASM’s Beyond event landed equally well, that’s inevitable when you’re taking genuine storytelling risks. Between the many plot threads and the multiple creative voices behind them, the event breathed life into a long-running title that sometimes plays it too safe in both of those respects.
At its very best, Beyond’s storytelling felt like it was Spider-Man, swinging from one precarious perch to another in a perhaps ill-advised but almost always exhilarating acrobatic endeavor. Let’s hope future ASM storylines and creative teams pick up and continue this philosophy, which led to the first time, after 878 issues, that the title featured someone who wasn’t a man on both writing and art… Although perhaps a more relaxed release schedule and more straightforward issue numbering could be considered when learning from the event in hindsight.
VERDICT: BROWSE this issue in particular, but BUY the collection of this complicated crossover series if you haven’t been following along.
Hulk: Grand Design – Monster
Review by AJ Frost
Over the past several years, one of the most exciting developments in released Marvel Comics printed content is the “Grand Design” series. These self-contained volumes present decades of character canon condensed in a way that allows readers without prior exposure to get in on the action and experience the full breadth of Marvel’s legendary creativity. This week sees the release of Jim Rugg’s “Hulk: Grand Design – Monster,” the first of a two-part miniseries that chronicles the exploits of Bruce Banner as he grapples with this explosive alter-ego. Rugg, the co-creator of Street Angel and the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel, follows in the footsteps of his fellow Pittsburgh cartoonists Ed Piskor (X-Men: Grand Design) and Tom Scioli (Fantastic Four: Grand Design) to present a chronological and visually dense retelling of the Hulk.
As a reader who only has a cursory knowledge of the Hulk from other media, the artistic and narrative diversity of Hulk: Grand Design – Monster is a real treat. Rugg’s love of the character is reflected on the pages as he presents a logical framework for the Hulk’s enduring legacy. With beautiful homages to Silver Age aesthetics with a modern flair, Rugg invites readers to connect the peculiarity of the Hulk with the character’s inherent melancholy. Here is a story of pain and mental trauma coupled with broad action and nuanced politics that, despite its potential for silliness, is anything but.
Hulk: Grand Design – Monster is a stunning and daring primer for readers who’ve always wanted to know more about this character. It will certainly be a wonderful addition to anyone’s comic bookshelf.
- Immortal X-Men #1
- If you’ve been looking for an accessible jumping on point into the Krakoan Age of X-Men, look no further than this very issue. Kieron Gillen, Lucas Werneck, David Curiel, and Clayton Cowles have put out one of the strongest debuts of an X-Men series since House of X/Powers of X. Political intrigue, plot seeding, and campy drama (provided by who else but Mr. Sinister) are blended together to establish a new status quo for the Quiet Council. Gillen hasn’t missed a beat in the ten years since he last wrote the X-Men. His Sinister is still iconic, and remains one of the most intriguing characters across the X-Line. I’m also glad Werneck has been given an ongoing series to work on. His characters are incredibly well defined and his layouts are really smooth to follow. The backgrounds in this issue have some great depth to them, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to evolve throughout this book. There’s so much to talk about with this book, so readers should pick it up ASAP and jump right in. —CB
- Silk #3
- Silk #3 is by writer Emily Kim, artist Takeshi Miyazawa, and colorist Ian Herring, with letters by Ariana Maher. The issue opens with Cindy Moon’s fashion-savvy brother Albert grilling salmon while wearing an apron saying, “Grill Sergeant,” a continuation of one of my favorite gags from the last issue: when the ceramics instructor wears an apron with the print of a gleefully bad pun, “License to Klin.” As Silk swings through her brother’s window (totally normal, right?), she brings him a Luna Snow tee, another small reminder of the last issue that also does the heavy lifting in setting up the next scene. And in it, J. Jonah Jamison’s diatribe about “THE SnapShot” is a great example of the humor Kim brings to Silk’s new comic run. However, Silk #3 isn’t all humor, it also moves along the story of the Ancient Witch sapping the life out of social media influencers… And you’ll be shocked, I mean shocked by the ending! I audibly gasped! —ROK
- X-Men Unlimited Latitude #1
- I have this theory that Jonathan Hickman can not write a self-contained, one-issue story. His brain is wired to create mega epic stories that find the smaller character moments that contribute to the larger picture, X-Men Unlimited Latitude is the closest thing to it. When the Peak, the orbital headquarters for the Krakoan extraterrestrial task force S.W.O.R.D., is the victim of a kidnapping plot involving A.I.M., Wolverine is the quick reaction force sent to save the three mutant prisoners. Joined by artist Declan Shalvey, we are thrown into an almost non-stop action piece as Logan does that thing we have grown to know about him, being the best he is at what he does. This issue is a cover-to-cover slash fest with funny breaks in the pacing for Wolverine to get some information and move on to the next stage of this cinematic rescue. —GC3
Next week: A new era properly begins in Marauders #1, punk lives in Spider-Punk #1, and the conclusion to the ever-lovin’ miniseries arrives with Thing #6 (of 6)!