Amazing Spider-Man #31 Review

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Release date October 9, 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

Despite being a two-part crossover with Absolute Carnage, you really don’t need to be invested in the big Venom/Carnage event at all to get some mileage out of this one. Instead of being hugely invested in expanding on top of the chaos spilling out of Donny Cate’s big story, Nick Spencer gives reader a issue that covers Peter and Norman’s history from as far back as the Silver Age of comics, interweaving that into the mystery that is Kindred and his motives, an angle that is still developing in the current Nick Spencer run, all the while tying everything back to Peter’s here-and-now battle with the Carnagified Norman Osborn.

You get a story that is told in three folds, where in the past we are shown the troubles that Peter and his loved ones endured keeping their mutual friend Harry Osborn from slipping further into his drug abuse. Norman blames Peter for Harry’s woes and even lashes out at everyone who is trying to support Harry and help him get better. It’s unfortunate that this story couldn’t give us the whole picture, showing how much Norman is at fault for his son’s condition, but then again, Norman would never consider or admit to having any hand in contributing to his son’s bad status.

We are taken back to Spider-Man at the mercy of Norman/Carnage. It’s only because of the intervention of the Kindred weeks prior to the events going on now that Norman is unsuccessful with finishing Spider-Man, so he turns his attention towards his original targets, Dylan Brock and Normie Osborn (read Absolute Carnage and Venom). Spider-Man is assaulted with memories of Norman at his worst as the Green Goblin and pulls himself together to keep Norman away from the boys and bring the fight back to him. In all honesty, I’ve soured over the years of reading so many Spider-Man comics where Peter, beaten and bloodied and on the verge of killing over, just finds this hidden “Super Saiyan” strength and is immediately able to overcome the villain that handled him so routinely. It never made sense to me how a broken hero can, at the last moment, overcome their dominating adversary in a flash, but this was literally the only real fault I could seriously consider in this issue, and its a troupe all comics are guilty of. That’s just comics. But for this issue, I wish Spider-Man had handled Norman in a far more elaborate measure. A headbutt here, and a kick to the face there, and Norman is down…

This comic brings us to its end with Kindred and Norman in Ravencroft (remember, this event is taking place weeks before Norman/Carnage and the events of Absolute Carnage). Spencer has been setting Kindred up as a substantially big threat for Spider-Man and seeing him and “Norman” give their exchanges is chilling. You have perhaps Spider-Man’s true arch-enemy and this intimidating mystery foe face-to-face, expressing themselves to each other. It’s ambiguous as to how much of the real Norman is present during this exchange when he decides to say what he does to Kindred on the final pages.

This short arc will benefit those invested in Spencer’s ASM more than it will anyone who’s only coming in for the Absolute Carnage connections. These two issues have been an examination of Peter and Norman, and confirms there is connective tissue there with Kindred. This is the Nick Spencer I want more of during this run.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to have any interest in the current happenings over at Donny Cates Venom and Absolute Carnage books, and I still highly recommend you pick up Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man #30 and #31.

8/10

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