This week’s Marvel Rundown jumps into the ongoing Contest of Chaos, joining Spider-Gwen and White Fox as they duke it out in the latest summer annual. This review is SPOILER-LITE, so jump on down to the Rapid Rundown for some Spoiler-Free reviews of Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics issues, 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.

Spider-Gwen Annual #1

Spider-Gwen Annual #1

Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artists: Rosi Kämpe & Marika Cresta
Color Artist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover Artist: R1c0

Contest of Chaos – Part 5
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Alberto Foche
Colorist: Raúl Angulo

This week’s installment in the Contest of Chaos summer smackdown takes us back to medieval times (and I don’t mean dinner theatre), as Spider-Gwen and White Fox square off to defend their respective kingdoms. 

I’m not completely familiar with the premise of this event, but I’m thankful that Spider-Gwen is just as out of place as I am. The issue begins in medias res, as Gwen recounts how she found herself in this medieval world, something White Fox also later does. Stories like these stay fun when it’s possible to jump into an issue without too much context, and Karla Pacheco manages that balance throughout the opening sequence. 

However, the issue feels a bit too disorienting, jumping from scene to scene without any great explanation. We follow Gwen and Ami as they try to retrieve a mysterious orb and escape the strange trap they’ve found themselves in, slowly realizing they’re in Questworld, an abandoned Japanese amusement park. I know this is meant to confuse us, but the switch from setting to setting leaves me lost as opposed to invested as to where we’ll wind up next.


Rosi Kämpe and Marika Cresta, along with colorist Irma Kniivila, do a great job of keeping this story engaging, with well choreographed action and exciting locales. The opening page is drawn to look like a tapestry, and it’s a real standout from the issue. Their styles don’t completely line up, but Kniivila’s colors maintain consistency between both at the point where they swap duties. Ariana Maher is on letters for both stories, and does a great job of differentiating the tones from one to the other.

The stakes don’t ramp up until the very end of the issue, which somewhat hurts the piece. This is, by and large, a standard ‘beat up then team up’ story that doesn’t twist or play with that setup in the slightest. The ending is interesting (I won’t spoil it here), but it’s a conclusion that could be expected from the kind of issue this is supposed to be. 

The backup is from Stephanie Phillips, Alberto Foche, and Raúl Angulo; this does a good job of staying compelling even if it’s only three pages. The ongoing mystery of chaos magic and what it’s doing to the Marvel Universe is very interesting, and having a POV character like Spider-Man allows us to learn alongside him at every revelation. I think reading all of the annuals in this story back-to-back might make parts of this repetitive, but on its own, this caught me up to the story in a way that felt additive, rather than distracting.

Verdict: STRONG BROWSE. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, but there’s not a ton of variation from any of the other versus stories that are already out there.


Rapid Rundown!

  • The Amazing Spider-Man #33
    • The Amazing Spider-Man #33 picks up shortly after the previous issue’s climax, which saw the son of Kraven the Hunter, AKA Kraven the Hunter, stab Spider-Man with a cursed spear and imbue Spidey with the accumulated sins of the Green Goblin. I haven’t been excited about this book since the disappointing end to the “Dead Language” arc, but this is a solid outing. It’s fun to see this darker Spider-Man cut loose with his powers, and writer Zeb Wells hints at some interesting thematic ideas around morality and redemption that have been seeded throughout his run. What sets this issue, yet another riff on “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, apart from previous remixes of that classic is the stunning art by Patrick Gleason and colorist Marcio Menyz. Gleason is one of the best artists to grace the pages of Amazing Spider-Man over the last few years and his inventive layouts and twisted Spider-Man imagery remind us why this character is so often mistrusted and at odds with the public. Despite some controversy over leaked pages ahead of its release, this issue doesn’t break any new ground. But when you are getting 20 pages of unchained Spider-Man action drawn by Patrick Gleason at his highest level, it’s hard to complain. —TR
  • Fantastic Four #11 
    • This so-far satisfying Fantastic Four run serves up another largely-contained issue this week, in which Ben Grimm and a stray dog are in the new base (the Fantastic Farmhouse), and said base ends up into some kind of void, putting our heroes…in total freefall. It’s a fun premise, given to lots of Thing grumbling. I think issues like this one play to this run’s overarching strengths: there’s a character focus, a little bit of mystery, a surprise reveal of an old foe, and a neat resolution by the end. These individual issues might feel small, but it’s starting to add up to something that feels bigger — a new FF era that feels at once classic and new. Also, extra points for subtitling this dog story Slobberin’ Time. This issue was written by Ryan North, with art by Iban Coello, colors by Jesus Aburtov, and letters by Joe Caramagna. —ZQ
  • X-Men #26
    • Writer Gerry Duggan, along with artists Jim Towe & Javier Pina, are out here playing mind games, which is appropriate as we are dealing with the marriage of Emma Frost, one of the premiere telepaths on the planet, to Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man. Possibly the most out-of-left-field union you can imagine, and in truth didn’t ask for. To keep this as spoiler-free as possible, Duggan makes this moment interesting. But this issue does more than hook up two of the most narcissistic characters in the Marvel Universe as we dive into the growing Mutant resistance and the dangerous new world that they exist in. Kate Pryde aka Shadowkat continues her one-woman revenge tour taking out targets of opportunity while searching for Cyclops, Ms. Marvel witnesses the collateral damage of an innocent person who’s accused of being a Mutant, and the uneasy alliance between the Mutant Underground and Wilson Fisk, now the new White King of the Hellfire Club. The Mutant landscape has been completely shaken up and it’s looking like a long road for their recovery, and right now I’m here for it. —GC3

Next Week: Matt Murdock returns in Daredevil #1!