Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Federico(s), Vicentini & Sabbatini
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date May 6 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
This issue features two artist, both sharing the same first names. While it’s Federico Vicentini who carries the majority of the book’s art, Federico Sabbatini draws the opening pages. I compare their styles to each other and I see a few similarities, but between the two artist, I much prefer Vicentini’s work, which incidentally makes up almost the whole issue. I don’t mean to undermine Sabbatini, but his characters faces looked off. While his Wilson Fisk looked on point, Mordo to me didn’t, and the biggest offenders where Norman Osborn and Kindred’s faces. I was thankful we only have him on the art for the Norman/Fisk pages.
Where the story is concerned, I had my ups and downs this time around. For one, I felt the dialogue was too cartoonish. Now, I don’t need my villains being all doom-and-gloom all the time, and we aren’t dealing with Marvel Max Punisher here…it is a Spider-Man book. And this is Nick Spencer, who exceeds with writing comical moments and handling C-list and D-list villains. But there was just enough cringe with the spoken dialogue that some scenes found me taken out of their moments. When the All-New Sinister Syndicate arrives to rescue their leader Janice and Spider-Man lends an assist, we have our latest Electro worried about her internet credibility and what the her comment section will look like. There’s a point where Janice and Madame Masque are having their own fight together, and Janice just goes on and on about how upset she is about Masque, a villain she admires, not viewing her or treating her like the fangirl she is to Masque, and even makes a LinkedIn reference. Its so cringe. I dunno. Most times, Spencer’s humor lands with me, but none of it worked in this book.
The story does escalate into a mad free-for-all between Madame Masque and Crime Master’s crew vs. Spider-Man and the Sinister Syndicate, but prior to this outbreak, we are treated to more Robbie Robertson and Tombstone moments. The best thing about this arc had been these two characters in my opinion, and I expected these bitter enemies, these two men with a very violent history together, who hate each other utmost, to warm up to each other other the common goal of trying to rescue their respective kids. The writing was pretty much on the wall that this was where this was going. I just felt their bonding was very heavy handed. Right before the men walk into a trap, you have them both admitting their faults as fathers, with the usually tough as diamonds, cold as ice Tombstone even uttering the words verbatim “man–being a dad. Its’ the worst, right?” Aaaand…look, I get it. This is the predicable moment where they’re truce starts to thaw away at their icy, biting relationship, but this is TOMBSTONE for eff’ing sakes! Why is he acting so kumbaya here? Again, it’s too heavy handed.
We have a fairly by-the-books ending to this arc, where the “heroes” handily win and the bad guys are brought down. Our lovers Randy and Janice reconcile with the “blessings” of their fathers, and as is becoming the norm with Marvel books, teases of the next impending big arc looming in the not-so-far-off future. This book explodes into action by the halfway point, where Vicentini lets loose with pages brimming with several colorful costumed characters throwing everything they have at their foes, so if you’ve been desiring more fast-paced action in your Spidey comics, this will deliver during its climax. But now that we’ve finished this arc, this issue really puts into my mind how much this whole arc felt like a huge B-plot story, one where there wasn’t even an A-plot accompanying it. It basically comes down to two ancillary characters being held hostage by Crime Master of all villains until the “heroes” show up and rescue them. Not that this arc was bad, but this final issue made me realize how small-scale this story is compared to everything that’s happened recently. Well, I won’t throw around my go-to word “filler” here, since this arc did have enough substance to keep me interested.
Simply put, its a straightforward conclusion to our Randy/Janice arc. Whenever I found the dialogue to be lacking, the art and the action made up for it. It’s not the most exceptional conclusion, but this arc was just a distraction set up by our bigger villain (Wilson Fisk) to prepare for (I’m hoping) an even bigger problem.