Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: June 26 2019
Review by WolfCypher (D. Brown)
I wasn’t a fan of “The Hunted” story arc, but I wasn’t yet ready to give up on Nick Spencer. I’ve liked Spencer on this iteration of Amazing, save for the one aforementioned arc. I was eager for us to get back to some of the earlier angles of his run. There’s a certain centipede-themed mystery man that’s been looming over Peter and Mary Jane, and there hasn’t been any traction with him lately. And yet, another “mystery man” takes center stage in this issue, as our classic criminal master of the theatrics Mysterio takes up most of this issue, relegating the titular hero to the role of side character…while interestingly leading back to our mystery centipede man.
During our last story (“The Hunted”), Peter suffered from visions of Mary Jane’s death and experienced a fleeting glimpse of our at-the-time unnamed centipede mystery man. In this issue, he hasn’t shared with Mary Jane any of those experiences. But the bulk of this issue takes place in the Ravencroft Asylum. When I first started seriously reading Spider-Man in the earliest of the nineties, Ravencroft was a frequently reoccurring facility in the Spidey books. Around the 2000s, the Raft became the de facto prison of the Marvel books and Ravencroft seemed to have been completely displaced from the comics. I got a little giddy seeing the institute back since its absence.
A doctor is having a session with Quentin Beck, a la Mysterio (he’s even donning his costume during the session). All Mysterio wants to talk about is his many attempts at destroying Spider-Man and ruining J. Jonah Jameson, but the doctor wants to delve into Beck’s death (which took place in the Kevin Smith written Daredevil run back in 1998…). Since Beck was admitted into Ravencroft, he has been hysterical over the trauma he suffered in hell and at the hands of his current tormentor, a man who seemingly rescued him from damnation. A man whose name Beck exclaimed repeatedly, nonstop, when he first arrived. And a name, now, he doesn’t want to say.
I’m not a fan of plot holes and storylines being left unresolved. When the real, living, breathing Quentin Beck first returned to the land of the living during Dan Slott’s run (more specifically, during the early days of “The Gauntlet”), he didn’t bother to provide much of an explanation to his resurrection. I know comic deaths are a dime a day and most deaths are undone before you even realize, but typically some form of explanation is given to how said character cheated death. Mysterio just came back. That always bugged me, and yet Spencer actually addresses that here, and ties it into his own mystery.
The doctor asserts that everything Beck believes is just Beck unable to divorce illusion from reality, and that Beck is simply obsessed with the thematic of Hell, until a red door appears. And from that door, the bandaged, centipede man breaks through. He toys with Mysterio, even permits Mysterio to say is real name in a whisper…then he turns his attention to Peter, miles away sleeping in bed next to Mary Jane. Its left ambiguous whether this is really happening and Peter can somehow see this as he sleeps, or if this itself all an illusion to taunt Peter, but before Peter wakes up, the centipede man gives Peter a name he can associate with him; Kindred.
Okay, I’m game. This issue is really connecting some serious red threads back to a certain, highly unpopular bad day Spider-Man and Mary Jane once had, One that they may have forgotten, but fans haven’t. When this (at the time unnamed) Kindred first appeared in this run, there was always this hint feeling that he had, or was going to have, some connection to the infamous “One More Day” event, an instance that saw Peter make a deal with Mephisto to retcon his marriage with Mary Jane from ever happening. If Kindred was being used to subtly tease a possible reference to that event, this issue leads the most credibility to that. Mysterio’s death, which lead to him being used as a pawn of Mephisto, leading towards “One More Day”, and somehow Kindred is in on all this…Is this just wishful thinking on my part? That someone is actually aware of what Peter and Mary Jane lost? Am I jumping to some serious conclusions prematurely? Because this could be big, or at least compelling enough to follow, especially for those who have been following Spider-Man since at least the Marvel “Civil War” era. “One More Day” is a subject Marvel doesn’t seem too keen on revisiting, and this enigmatic new villain, who is obsessed with Spider-Man and is willingly to manipulate Mysterio, might just be in on it, or aware of it all.
But as much as I liked what we got, this was ultimately a tame, all dialogue issue. Like I said in the beginning of this review, Spider-Man/Peter takes a serious back seat in his own book, and we get what I believe to be a set-up issue for Spencer’s big future story with Kindred. But we’re nearly approaching a year since this seed’s been planted, and we’re just now getting a name for the central villain. Are we still setting up at this point? Is there a chance we may yet again diverge from this plot for several more months? I hope if these are the cases, that at least the Kindred plot still gets some much needed momentum even if it’s ends up back to being the B-plot for a while.
Nick Spencer digs into some threads from as far back as the 90s to connect Mysterio and his newly christened Kindred and return my interest and attention to a book that took a dive for an arc. I hope we wont have to wait too much longer to return to this plot, because in what should feel like a nothing issue, I’ve become seriously reinvested in this mysterious Machiavellian menace.