Welcome to another edition of the Marvel Rundown! With Amazing Spider-Man on the heels of two really aggressively dark and self-indulgent Spider-Man stories, this week’s Rundown examines some things the current run of the title has in common with another long-running arc featuring a major Big Two character: Tom King‘s Batman.
We’ve got that and other reviews of newly-released Marvel titles in our Rapid Rundown section, all ahead on this week’s Marvel Rundown!
The Amazing Spider-Man #58
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Marcelo Ferreira
Inking by Wayne Faucher
Colouring by Morry Hollowell
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Mark Bagley, John Dell, and Edgar Delgado
After months of big, event-level storytelling, Nick Spencer finally scales things down to something more manageable and, frankly, more emotionally investing. Spencer’s run has been at its best when dealing with the ramifications of a bigger story, or when the stakes are shrunk down and we get to hang out with Peter and his weird roommates, for example.
Marcelo Ferreira is back after some fill-in issues he did during the “Sins Rising” arc that ran from July to October of last year. He didn’t make a good first impression, producing some muddy and chaotic artwork that didn’t exactly mesh well with Mark Bagley‘s work on that particular arc. Here, with Wayne Faucher inks and Morry Hollowell colours, his art looks a little sleeker and more realised than his previous efforts. There’s the occasional odd-looking face here and there though, which doesn’t do this dialogue and character-focused issue any favours.
Strangely enough, though, this is the first good issue of the series since… July? Back when the “Sins Rising” arc kicked off. Those particular comics aren’t exactly bad, but it’s clear that there was some serious decompressed storytelling with a slow-as-snails plot. Spencer’s pattern over the course of this series has become pretty clear in recent months: have a lot of fun with short, contained arcs that are mostly humorous, along the lines of his and Steve Lieber‘s Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Once a year, he’ll write up a big, character-defining event, one that promises to change Spider-Man FOREVER! You can’t help but notice that whenever these big arcs happen, they tend to be very dour and very dark and very… “Kraven’s Last Hunt”-esque. Dark stories that attempt to stretch the possibilities of what a Spider-Man story can be. It doesn’t exactly help that these stories also tend to be among the weakest stories of this series.
The fact that readers have been subjected to this dark, “morally complex” story since JULY is something that has irked me, and got me thinking about the nature of these flagship books, their publishing schedules, and how writers apparently take advantage of twice-monthly shipping to tell longer versions of stories that would ostensibly be shorter with a monthly schedule. It also got me thinking about Tom King’s run on Batman, which is dumb because this is a Marvel piece. But hey, all the rules are going out the window, along with Spider-Man’s life! Will he ever be the same after these harrowing events?!
Spencer on ASM and King on Batman frequently fall into these long, over-indulgent arcs, when their respective books are at their best when the stakes are smaller, when these writers can show us what they’re really good at. Look at that little stretch of King’s Batman after the wedding. We had that courtroom arc, the Nightwing interlude issue along with Batman’s hunt for KGBeast, and the Penguin arc. A neat little set of stories! Each one was different, each one played to King’s strengths until the “Knightmare” story came along and put the book on hold for about nine issues, from December 2018 to the end of April 2019. That’s… an exceedingly long time. Granted, this does include a two-issue interlude written by Joshua Williamson. Something similar goes on with Spencer’s Spider-Man. After the “Hunted” story, the Kindred mystery continued with a couple of neat issues (one of them the over-sized #25), then he and Kev Walker did a really fun arc featuring Beetle and her new group of villains, and fun was had until “Sins Rising” kicked in.
In that way this new arc, “Negative Space,” is a return to form for Spencer. Based on the solicits, it’s clearly a shorter arc, but, in a neat twist, it carries a bit of the emotional baggage of the last arc which doesn’t exactly detract from my enjoyment of the issue. You’d think we’d have seen Mister Negative sooner since he played a large role in Insomniac’s Spider-Man game, but I quite like this take on the character and is an example of the ramifications being better than the set-up. Martin Li’s involvement in the “Sins Rising” arc was small but contrived, appearing in a short sequence where he begs Sin-Eater for death so his sins can be purged (a move that was reversed when Sin-Eater died). Li’s conundrum in the story is, admittedly, one I saw coming but that doesn’t distract from how good this change of pace feels. Again, we’ve been in the Sin-Eater/Kindred story loop for almost seven months! This arc could focus entirely on Aunt May and it’d be the best Spider-Man story since July.
All in all, I guess I’m just glad to be reading a regular Spider-Man comic again. Or rather, I’m glad we’re beginning to move away from the Kindred stuff. He clearly still has a part to play and as you can tell from the preview page below, he’s still on Peter’s mind. I truly herald Mister Negative’s entrance to the series because it gives Peter the chance to… think about someone else. To do newer things instead of whatever’s eating the Osborn boys. That is, until whatever’s going on with this Wilson Fisk tablet storyline ends up taking over the line for the last six months of the year.
Final Verdict: I’m giving this a BROWSE. I don’t know if I’ve been so rattled by the past seven months of weak stories to not know which way is up, but it was a genuinely nice feeling to read a straightforward opening chapter (even though it opened in media res).
- Daredevil #26
- Well it had to happen sooner or later. The current Daredevil series has finally been sucked into a big crossover. Luckily Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checcheto, Mike Hawthorne, and co. know what they’re doing, and the trappings of The King in Black are integrated nicely with the overall story that the creators have been telling on the series. While Matt deals with the symbiote invasion from his prison cell, it was Elektra’s (somewhat meta) annoyance at having to deal with the same superhero nonsense that Matt’s been putting up with years that really made this book a treat to read. If we have to get through a KiB tie-in, at least it looks like it’s going to be a fun one. —JG
- New Mutants #15
- After an outstanding debut issue, Vita Ayala and Rod Reis continue their new status quo for the series in entertaining fashion. There a lot of characters popping in and out throughout this issue, and the creative team does a great job of giving everyone a moment to shine (and a moment for the characters who might be new to some readers to make an impression). Don’t sleep on this series. —JG
- Savage Avengers #17
- Probably the least talked about Avengers title is my guilty pleasure, and making this issue a buddy prison break issue with Conan and Deadpool is the cherry on top. Lumped into the current Marvel King in Black event, Conan finds himself being completely railroaded after a bar fight, skips the usual holding cells and ends up in Rikers Island prison, meets Deadpool and immediately bonds with him forming an escape plan and breaking out in the most Deadpool way possible. And this book still finds a way to tie in its overall storyline to the events. —GC3
Next week, King in Black continues with some one-shot tie-ins, and the Avengers/Phoenix tournament goes on!