Thanks for joining us for another edition of the Marvel Rundown! Join the Beat’s Merry Marvel Marching Society as we take a look at the latest events in the world outside your window. This week we spotlight the end of The Amazing Spider-Man‘s Gang War event. But that’s not all, True Believers. Once you’ve recovered from all of the excitement of the destruction of New York City, make sure to keep reading below for the rapid rundown of other Marvel books out this week, including two perspectives on Invincible Iron Man #15, along with reviews of Punisher #4 and Women of Marvel #1.

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

The Cover to Amazing Spider-Man 44, the end of the Gang War event. It features a close-up of Madam Masque with Spider-Man reflected in her golden face. Drawn by John Romita Jr.

The Amazing Spider-Man #44

Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Reading The Amazing Spider-Man under this editorial team over the last few years has been a frustrating experience. Across different creators, we have seen storylines with genuine promise spiral out of control time and again. There can be no old-school, small Spider-Man stories. Every story must be a crossover event that changes everything. But if everything is always changing, then what are we reading for? It makes it difficult to emotionally invest in the book, and even the most technically well-crafted issues are hard to enjoy. This is not a badly put-together comic. Zeb Wells writes compelling characters and funny jokes and John Romita Jr.‘s hardknock, exaggerated style is perfect for the big brawl this story demanded of him. But when I closed this book I couldn’t help but feel like this multi-spin-off epic was pointless and, worst of all, not a Spider-Man story.

Amazing Spider-Man

The main antagonist is Madame Masque, an Iron Man villain, with whom Spider-Man has no history or thematic connection. She is a foil for Janice Lincoln, the Beetle, the young and conflicted daughter of Spider-Man villain Tombstone. They are mirror images, Masque offering Beetle and Tombstone a vision of what could happen to Janice if she allows her anger to control her. She is a warning about the dangers of seeking power for vengeance. There is a hint of some resonance to Spider-Man there, but the hero is such a non-entity in the conflict that it never lands.

The First Strike special that kicked off Gang War had real promise. It offered a tantalizing glimpse of Spider-Man facing the personal costs of the isolation we’ve witnessed throughout Zeb Wells’ run. With Peter’s friend Randy in mortal peril, the gang war had emotional and, crucially, personal stakes. He had to prove that Spider-Man and masked heroes were worth Randy’s faith–a faith Randy was willing to die for. Here at the end, Spider-Man is in the same place he started. The emotional denouement in this issue offers no changes or dramatic revelations that impact Peter Parker in any way.

Technically, the issue is well done. Wells makes us care about the father-daughter dynamic between Beetle and Tombstone. Madame Masque is threatening and Romita’s depiction of her blank gold stare is chilling. The fight in Central Park is brutal and sprawling and Romita’s pencils give every blow a fluidity and sense of volume as bodies crash into one another. Scott Hanna is one of the best to ink Romita in years, reigning in his abstraction and loose detail to give clarity and coherence to the page. Marcio Menyz is among Marvel’s best colorists, adding depth to the crowds and focusing readers on the important players through subtle gradients and shading. VC’s Joe Caramagna is often taken for granted on this title despite his stalwart presence month in and month out but in these last few issues, his choices have been critical. Small details, like the tiny, trembling balloons that represent Tombstone’s gravelly whisper, or the use of dynamic color and size add weight and emphasis to the dialogue.

Amazing Spider-Man

If this were Marvel Universe: Gang War, I could imagine giving this a recommendation. But for a story in Amazing Spider-Man, it is disappointing, and another example of how this title is held back by editorial and publishing demands to keep Peter Parker frozen in amber.

Final Verdict: If you’re looking for a compelling story about Peter Parker and what it means to be Spider-Man, Skip this book.

Rapid Rundown!

The Marvel Rundown for 2.28.24 includes The Invincible Iron Man, Women of Marvel, and Punisher.

  • Invincible Iron Man #15
    • Tied into the X-Men’s Fall of the House of X events, Tony Stark has been playing a strategic shell game against his tech enemy Feilong and his anti-Mutant allies Orchis, leading into their version of Endgame. For the past year, writer Gerry Duggan has had Stark secretly amassing new technology and materials to counter the anti-Mutant tech that Feilong and Orchis have been using, tech that Stark created. With the help of Riri Williams and Forge, Stark has built new weapons out of Mysterium, the Mutant metal that’s up there with Adamantium and Vibranium. Without spoiling too much, penciler Creees Lee‘s linework fits well with the new armor design, unique in the pantheon of Iron Man armor, with a quirky manga-like flair, that is reminiscent of Iron Hearts with its smooth lines and offbeat color combination, and what follows that is more of a traditional Iron Man armor. What I’ve grown to like about this run is the relationship between Stark and Emma Frost, on the surface one could see it as a stunt, but Duggan has made me a believer in them. Knowing how comics work and that creators have to put the toys back where they found them or tend to get their stories overwritten, I hope that someone gives them a chance beyond the current story arc. —GC3
    • I’m a bit lost with this one. Gerry Duggan is doing his best to keep this book connected to the Fall of X, but it leaves this book without an identity of its own. It’s been great that we’ve got somewhere that Emma Frost is consistently showing up, but this story about Tony bouncing back from his fall from grace by teaming up with mutantkind (and writing his memoirs?) has been extremely middle of the road for me. The biggest issue for this title feels like the pacing. A lot of the key events happen in other books, so Iron Man has to either move slowly so other books can do their reveals, or very quickly in order to line up with what’s already happened somewhere else. I don’t think it’s solely the fault of Duggan, as the entire Krakoan finale has felt incredibly rushed, but there’s something to be said about how closely this book is wrapped up in everything else going on. On a positive note, Creees Lee and Walden Wong draw the hell out of the new Mark 72 armor, as well as a great last page reveal that I got a kick out of. The action scenes in this issue were a blast, and felt very much like watching a good ol’ mecha movie. Colors here are by Bryan Valenza, with letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.  —CB
  • Punisher #4
    • Dropping back in after we did a roundtable on the first issue in November, David Pepose and Dave Watcher wrap up their first arc. Joe Garrison finally confronts Fearmaster and his crew of JIGSAW agents in bombastic fashion. Pepose taking this new incarnation more spy-fi than mob-centric is such smart decision. Frank Castle was born out 70s men’s adventure novel, so basing Joe Garrison on the one man army action flicks of the last decade is perfect. The real star though continues to be Dave Watcher and Dan Brown’s artistic collaboration. If you’re inspired by John Wick’s gonzo action sequences, it helps having an artist like Watcher being able to execute flashy action scenes with Brown lighting them spectacularly. This issue lives up to the promise of that first issue. And if none of that sells you, one word: stunchucks. —DM
  • Women of Marvel #1
    • Marvel’s annual women-centric anthology has two essays and four short stories, featuring the heroism of the Invisible Woman, Scarlet Witch, Madame Web, and others. The first story is easily the biggest disappointment: while artist Lydia Rasero and colorist Tríona Farrell deliver dazzlingly spectacular visuals—Farrell’s creative and judicious use of screentones is especially wonderful here—but their work is hugely undercut by Gail Simone’s lackluster script. The rest of the stories largely suffer from the same problem: there’s great art from Arielle Jovellanos, Brittany Peer, Giada Belviso, and more, but they’re paired with writing that just doesn’t justify the effort. Angélique Roché provides a serviceable introduction and an intriguing (if somewhat shallow) essay on Monet St. Croix. Ultimately, it’s underwhelming. —LI

Be back next week to join us for the long-awaited debut of Peach Momoko’s Ultimate X-Men #1!


  1. I skipped all of the Gang War books and i feel like I’m better off for it. It just wasn’t anything i was interested it, and the lead up books were so… Meh. Glad to hear i didn’t miss much.

Comments are closed.