Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Mark Bagley
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date February 24 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Before we go any further, I want you to know two things:
- This is a SPOILER-filled review
- I loved this issue.
And there could be a lot to say about an issue that doesn’t even really use Peter Parker as Spider-Man or even entails any action whatsoever. Nick Spencer has been doing that lately, hasn’t he? Giving us these stories where we don’t really have Spider-Man doing very Spider-Man-y things, and having characters engage with each other, be it Peter checking in on Liz Allen, or having a very serious no-nonsense talk with the supposedly Sins-free Norman Osborn. The only pattern I can attest to is that I’ve really been loving these issues. I don’t suspect a Spider-Man run can be carried on out-of-costume drama exclusively. I’d be shocked to find out people would be okay with a Spider-Man-less Spider-Man title, where everyone has these serious soap opera moments. Something has happened with this book the minute “Sins Rising” started and I really haven’t gotten away from this: this run has been really good. And I remember a time where I would find myself exhausted by most issues. And yes, there were some issues during the “Last Remains” arc where I challenged the story where I thought the content didn’t work very well, and even then there was far more pros compared to what I considered cons. I wasn’t really happy that the big Kindred arc ended unresolved, but I couldn’t deny that everything up to that point which directly steered into that character was some damn good reading.
And now we have a slower paced issue, which doesn’t rely on Spider-Man or superheroics or any other common action-stuffed comic tropes, but has Peter and Mary Jane addressing Peter’s distresses brought on by everything he’s been through since Kindred threw his life into disarray.
The Amazing Mary Jane was a book I fell off of maybe six issues in, maybe less. It disappointed me that we had to lose Mary Jane in the core book The Amazing Spider-Man to give her her own title which I personally thought was middling. I was ecstatic to have her feature as an important character in ASM again, especially after the long years between issues 546 to 801 (2008 through 2018) where she would frequently be written out for inexcusably long periods of time. I was happier to see that Spencer writes a wonderful Mary Jane, and I’m glad she’s come back home. But I digress, Spencer is tying threads that spun during her time in her own solo title into his ASM run, and this works as a huge boon to those who followed her series. Thankfully, her solo issues I did read before I drop it covered her unusual connections with Mysterio, so picking that thread back up didn’t read like I had missed something. And to Nick Spencer’s credit, Mysterio and his ties to Kindred was always a product of Spencer since the beginning of his tenure on Spider-Man, so bringing that back from The Amazing Mary Jane feels more like he’s reclaiming something he started. I guess this whole spiel is an overly long way of saying that seeing Mary Jane and Mysterio meet up near the end of this issue, speaking formally and so openly about Peter and Spider-Man unnerves me in a good way…in a “I’m hooked and I want to see how this plays out going forward” way.
And if there was any doubt that Spencer wasn’t revving towards the infamous “One More Day” event and its consequences, the final pages have brought the last essential player into the mix. Remember how Doctor Strange factored into the big Kindred/Spider-Man arc, “Last Remains”? It bothered me how that arc wrapped up and Doctor Strange, who was brought into the story, just upped and disappeared? We just ended the arc and moved on…
Thankfully we’re getting back to that, as this book brings Doctor Strange to that last big player I referred to, and Strange pays a visit to Mephisto himself to find out what is wrong with Peter Parker’s soul. That’s as definitive a reference to OMD as they get, folks! I swear, I’m not a fan of being baited around for years waiting for a story to conclude, especially since there’s always a chance said story could end unsatisfactorily, but Spencer keeps dropping these type of bombshells that…damn it, I’m still invested in this storyline.
Nick Spencer delivers a great read while Mark Bagley pulls his weight with fantastic art. Spencer continues to carry on the Kindred saga by peppering in these stories around other arcs, and while he’s done this before throughout the early half of his run, this Kindred-related intermission is one of the more engaging ones. If Spencer is going to draw out the Kindred saga even longer, I welcome more stories like this one.