Writers: Nick Spencer, Zeb Wells, Keaton Patti
Artists: Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Patrick Gleason, Kev Walker, Todd Nauck, Dan Hipp
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date July 10 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
I think its fair to assume that when a comic book ends on a meaty cliffhanger, and its next issue directly continues where its previous issue left off, we can assume they’re a part of the same arc. Naturally, you would think then that the previous issue would be the first part of said arc, and this current issue would be the second part. Well let me say that it felt like I was reading a completely different arc, even given the fact that this issue opens on the fallout of the last issue’s ending. It didn’t take long for this book to find a way to pretty much ignore what the last issue had set up. Going from the serious tone of issue 24 to the silly, cartoony tone in this issue, which again is effectively the same story, was a huge turn-off.
We don’t address the fact that Peter just experienced the nightmare of seeing “Mysterio” murdered by this frightening new foe called Kindred. We don’t get the aftermath of Peter finally letting Mary Jane know about these visions he’s been having, seeing her die and such. The reveal that Mysterio is alive and well, and how he pulled off his “switcheroo” with the psychiatrist from last issue was a let down, and it left a plothole with Kindred. Pretty much, Kindred decided to kill Mysterio last issue for saying his real name (just a reminder, Kindred is only an alias, not his true name), but we learn this issue, Mysterio played him and managed to switch identities with his psychiatrist. Okay…but once we open onto this book and we see that Kindred has figured out the ruse, why doesn’t he now proceed to kill the real Mysterio? Wasn’t that his intentions? Mysterio told someone his real name so he needed to die (although, come on, last issue it was plainly addressed that when Mysterio was first admitted to Ravencroft, all he did was cry outloud Kindred’s real name hysterically, and everyone around must have heard…why was it worth Kindred trying to kill him only after “Mysterio”shares his real name in private with his “doctor”?) Kindred seems to get over it pretty quickly when he tracks down the real deal and just spares him. So one minute, you make an honest attempt to kill the guy, fail, get upset over having killed an innocent man in his place, the next minute Kindred finds Mysterio, and everything’s good for the moment? These are just the first few pages, and I was already taken out of things.
Much of the main story is a night out at the theater for Mary Jane and another ex-lover of Peter’s, Carlie Cooper, to watch a show starring an actress and former friend of MJ’s named Melanie Daniels. Again, absolutely no attempt at bridging where MJ and Peter left off last issue…The current (new) Electro shows up to take the leading lady of the night’s show hostage, and MJ and Carlie work together to save her. Meanwhile, Peter/Spider-Man is searching for Curt Connors, who hasn’t been seen since the end of the “Hunted” story arc. I’m a huge fan of Mary Jane, and I wouldn’t dismiss a chance to have a MJ-centric issue once in a while. This story, though, read like I was watching an episode of Ben 10. This recent Electro is a joke, and I’m wondering if that’s the point. Maybe she’s not supposed to be written seriously. The original Electro may not have been on the same level as Doctor Octopus or the Green Goblin, but he was always written as a serious threat. Now, lets get this clear, folks; I am not asking for Tom King’s Batman. I don’t need Spider-Man to be all about doom and gloom, and not every Spidey story has to be “Kraven’s Last Hunt”. But when a Spider-Man comic feels like it would have worked better as an episode of the Disney XD Ultimate Spider-Man show, I have a problem. When your main villain takes an opportunity to have a selfie with her hostage, and MJ and Carlie save the day with a “switcheroo” of their own (“switcheroo”s seem to be the order of the day), we’ve steered a little too close to camp. The Spider-Man segments weren’t all that interesting either, and fell into B-plot territory.
There was so much gravity coming out of the last issue, and its second part just goes down a completely different, totally unnecessary route. Why couldn’t the last issue had been saved for this issue’s main story is beyond me, because if you want to celebrate a “milestone” issue, I expect the main story to be good; good enough to warrant the 7.99 cover on its own regardless of the extra content. It would have been one thing if I just didn’t click with this book alone, but it somehow also managed to retroactively take away some of the praise I had for the last issue, knowing what I know now.
The three bonus stories included one where a teacher at Empire State is giving a speech about the dying future while we get cut-aways to moments from Marvel history to parallel his examples, ending with what I could only guess was the “return” of Spider-Man 2099 to our continuity (even wearing his “classic” blue “Death’s Head” costume and not the white get-up from the previous 2015 Peter David run), though I really couldn’t tell you what had happened at the end of this one. In the last few panels, again, running parallel to the teacher’s speech, a figure falls from the sky and crashes into an offshore oil rig, and Spidey 2099 appears at the center of the impact. It took me a minute to tell if he was lying on the ground or if he was leaping from the rubble. I guess I should trust that this will get picked up in a later story…
The next bonus story was a weird team-up between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson, and their encounter with some…bare with me…multi-colored-power alien man? That would be my best guess, as its never addressed who or what he or she is. Between all the content in this book, this one was actually my favorite (that is, least disliked) story in this collection. The banter between Peter and JJJ was well done, and I preferred the art and coloring here. This one also ends with even less implication of a follow-up, so for all I knew before moving onto the last bonus story, this team-up/weirdo alien story was just a “fun” little one-and-done. Lastly we get a Spider-Man story as if written by “a bot” who just fuses every known meme, troupe, and recurring element from the Spidey books into one quick story. It’s purely played up for laughs, with intentionally exaggerated “chibi” art, so mileage will vary. I found it hard to read with its disjointed broken-English and non-sense dialogue.
Long story short, the only story that mattered was the main story, and it wasn’t up to par…story (there, I used that word four times in one sentence). Last issue set a standard where I was happy to jump on board as the Weird Science Marvel reviewer for this book, and this issue’s follow-up, I thought, dropped that ball so quickly. The extra stories felt inconsequential, and I would say if it meant a lower cover price, we could all do without them. Twenty-five issues into a twice-a-month run is not much of a milestone accomplishment, and Amazing Spider-Man 25 wasn’t much of a milestone issue.