Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date January 8 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Time, For A Change? That’s the story title I see on the credits page when I opened up this book. Well, I wouldn’t disagree, but why then, reading this issue, do I feel much of the same?
Our story juggles quite a bit of smaller b-plots that are building up towards future issues, I’m sure. We have a meeting between Norah Winters, ex-employee of the Daily Bugle, and J. Jonah, ex-editor and bossman of the Daily Bugle. Norah see’s Jonah talents as a radio personality wasted and has come to J.J. with a proposition. We aren’t privy to exactly what Norah has to offer Jonah, as Spencer purposely leaves those details to our imaginations for now, but whatever this deal is, it makes the ever-stubborn Jonah nearly choke on his lunch and leap head-first into her offer. We’ll have to wait and see where that’s going to go.
A majority of the book is Spider-Man doing a medley of activities; saving lives, fighting Stegron dinosaurs, etc. In truth, I felt this was all very much filler, and uninteresting filler at that, even including the point in the book where Peter and his classmate Jaime explore and further research the Clairvoyant device they’ve built. As of the 2099/Dr. Doom story (the previous arc we just ended), the Clairvoyant has much more power, and Peter is debating whether he should use its future-telling-probability capabilities to benefit his day-to-day activities, both in and out of costume. The book continues on with Spidey stopping by a shop to buy snacks and a flower bouquet and race home to have a phone-date with Mary Jane. Its…I just didn’t need any of this. It would be different if this run didn’t feel like it was constantly finding new, inventive ways to drag on. Maybe then, I’d enjoy these vignettes of Peter or Spidey doing these minor things in between the story, or maybe even taking up much of the book’s page count. My problem is, I’ve been following this title since the start of Spencer’s run and I’ve lost patience; from his Kraven the Hunter story which went in circles and only ended with Kraven dying and being replaced with a clone who acts and dresses exactly like the original (what is this, the Simpsons? With their cat Snowball being replaced with a different EXACTLY THE SAME, all new EXACTLY THE SAME cat named Snowball), to his Boomerang/All-Female Sinister Syndicate arc that just…happened, to the Doom/2099 arc that was all over the place. I’m just wondering when is the writer going to start streamlining this book, rein in some of these excessively branching stories (or better yet, CONCLUDE some of them), and bring in some much needed focus?
And we close with Kindred in an undisclosed, grim location. After giving a long villainous speech to no one, Kindred revives a dead villain from Spider-Man’s rogue gallery. I may stand alone on this, but I have officially lost interest in this character. There is no more hype to get me excited for the big reveal of who he is, what his plans are, his ties to Peter. None of this has the effect it once did when this character was being built up because we’re this far into this run and we haven’t gotten any new substantial hints or teases into this character. At this point, I have to suspect this is all being saved up for the big issue 50. I would be fine with such a long wait, if only Spencer would throw us a bone from time to time in the way of learning something new about this mystery menace. Instead, every time he appears (briefly) in a story, its more “ooooh, scary scary” monologues and rantings about his ties to Peter, and how Peter has lost something important, and more of the same heard-it-before cryptic speak. This issue has Kindred revive a old villain from the dead, which we’ve already known Kindred could do, considering how much he gloated about going to hell to bring the once-dead Mysterio back from the grave. So again, we get another Kindred appearance that doesn’t move the mystery forward, even a little.
There’s another line from this book I want to reference, as I felt this mirrored my thoughts on Spencer’s direction and his handling of this title: “I’m Tired of Waiting. Waiting For All The Pieces To Fall Into Place Just Right” (spoken by Kindred). I am, too.
This issue feels like the obligatory cool-down story after one extended arc ends and before we move on to the next series of stories, but it just didn’t give me any reason to be excited for what’s in store next for Peter.