Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Marcelo Ferreira
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date January 27 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
After the lengthy gauntlet that was both Sins Rising and Last Remains, it almost feels like I’ve been living in a dark, musty place for months only to finally emerge back into to the open world again, taking in the sunlight and fresh air (or I could use some topical Covid-19 /quarantine simile here instead). I suppose such a statement may sell you on the idea that I did not enjoy those last story arcs. On the contrary, I did (for the most part) very much like Spencer’s two big previous arcs, but its been a long series of past and present sins, Spider-Friends, Osborns of every generation, and demon centipedes. Regardless of whether we got all the answers we wanted or needed concerning Kindred and Peter’s alleged “greatest sin”, this series of stories was getting long in the tooth. Even without a true conclusion, I was ready for something new.
Issue 58 may be the beginning of a new Martin Li/Mister Negative arc, but we still have several pages dedicated to both the Sins Rising and Last Remains arcs, the Sin-Eater and Kindred stories respectively. Martin Li, we learn, wrestled control for his body long enough to engage with the Sin-Eater while the Sin-Eater had his supernatural ability to purge people of all their sins. Li used this gambit to cleanse himself from the evil personality that triggers his transformation into Mister Negative. But when the Sin-Eater committed his paranormal suicide, all the sins he relieved his victims of returned to their sources, and now Martin Li is relying on Aunt May for help while also putting her life in danger. Meanwhile, Peter has confronted Liz Allen (ex-wife of Harry Osborn/once supporting character to Venom?!) about Harry’s status.
I’m glad this issue goes there with Harry. See, before Kindred’s reveal as Harry (what feels likes 14 issues ago) we’ve seen Harry, alive and well, and pretty normal and well-meaning, in several instances. The Harry we’ve been presented with during the entire Kindred ordeal presents himself as a paranormal undead being, or at least that’s the implications I picked up on. As Kindred, he is presented with some degree of Satanic powers and has been able to revive people from the dead (especially those who have inhabited Hell, namely Mysterio and the Sin-Eater). So the obvious question on my mind was what’s going on with the Harry we’ve known about, living his normal routine day-by-day life as a supporting character in these books, and if he’s the same Harry as the one who has been scheming as Kindred?
I was hoping this would get touched on sooner rather than later, and lucky me, its the first thing we see Peter deal with post-Last Remains. The book balances both the aftermath of the (still unresolved) Kindred saga while introducing the next arc and it’s such a smooth transition. I’m a little (…maybe a lot) salty that the Kindred saga is still inconclusive, but I’m not going to let that determine my opinion on this clean break into a new story. Its been a while since we’ve got to see Peter as Peter get some screen time and interact with some of his ancillary members, and just as long since we’ve seen Aunt May show up in a Spider-Man book proper for more than a single panel/single page appearance. This book brings to life some secrets about Harry which catch Liz off guard, and only further entices me further with what’s going on with Harry (and if there are two different Harrys). This issue reminded me of the pacing this book used to have back in the 80s during the Roger Sterns and Tom DeFalco run; its juggling multiple plots but for once everything feels interwoven and relevant to each other.
Although I left the previous arc somewhat unsatisfied in the end, I have to admit I was about ready for a break away into either new or different ground. This new arc begins with the typical “set-up” issue but it’s paced very well and has great art. I’ve always felt Mister Negative was just one great story shy of becoming one of my favorite Spidey rogues. I’m eager to see what Spencer can do with this character.