Written by: Zeb Wells
Art by: Ed McGuinness, Cliff Rathburn
Colors by: Marcio Menyz
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover art by: John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: December 28, 2022
Amazing Spider-Man #16 continues the silly, slapstick event with the awaited confrontation between Spider-Man and Chasm. Meanwhile, the Goblin Queen and Hallows Eve treat Venom like a dog.
Is It Good?
Tone and character. Amazing Spider-Man #16 is what happens when the creators have weirdly misplaced ideas about tone and character.
Is the Dark Web event supposed to be a joke? If it is, ASM #16 is the comic event equivalent of a dad joke. If it isn’t, Marvel’s got bigger problems on its hands.
Okay, that’s enough of the huffing and puffing. Let’s get into what does and doesn’t work in this issue.
When last we left Spidey and friends, Chasm, Madelyne Pryor, and Hallows’ Eve unleashed Limbo magic on NYC, turning inanimate objects into sentient people eaters. Why? Unknown. A magical corruption of NYC doesn’t fit into the motivations of either Chasm (he wants his clone memories back from Peter) or Goblin Queen (she wants revenge against the X-Men for past wrongs), so the villains are making big moves that don’t appear to have any outcome that benefits them.
Now, Chasm finally faces off against Spider-Man and, in fairness, their fight is excellent. Say what you will about the legendary Romita Jr., but shifting art duties to Ed McGuinness suits this book better. The action is kinetic, the line work is pristine, Romita Jr’s tendency to distort human anatomy is gone, and the entire book is visually engaging.
Further, the spider-vs-spider fight is more intriguing because both characters have (unknown to each other) upgrades to contend with. Chasm has psycho-reactive goo abilities that make him a pseudo-Venom-type character that can create constructs like stabbing weapons, and Peter has his Gobliintech-enhanced suit. The potential for a new type of Spider-fight is worth considering.
That said, this issue doesn’t stumble in the art or the potential but in its tone, character work, and story execution.
First, a big, city-threatening event, the tone is offputtingly jokey. No, there’s nothing wrong with a little comic relief. No, not every event needs to be so dour. But monsters are attacking and eating people. That seems like the kind of thing Spider-Man would react to with a little more grit and determination. Even the monsters (in this case, a talking scooter) are making jokes, and all the dramatic tension of this event simply fizzles out.
Second, the character work is bizarre. Eddie Brock/Venom was reverted by the Goblin Queen into his earlier self to aid the villains in their “plan,” but here, Venom acts and is treated like an attack dog. The Goblin Queen points Venom at targets and pushes him on his way while Venom cracks wise about not knowing what’s going on. Early Venom may have been single-minded, but he was never a buffoon. Venom is written like a meathead here, and it’s weird.
Last but not least, what is the “plan”? Goblin Queen’s goals are ill-defined, so we can let that one slide, but Chasm’s goal hasn’t changed since the beginning – steal back his fractured memories from Peter Parker. When confronted with Peter Parker, why does Chasm attack with the intent to kill? Why does Chasm cast a spell that sends Peter to Limbo? How does an attack on NYC help Chasm get his memories back? Nothing about Chasm’s involvement in this event makes sense, and every action Chasm takes runs counter to what he wants. It’s like watching a dog attempt to open a bag of doggie treats by burying it in the backyard.
What’s the net result? Solid art and great action but with a weirdly jokey tone that kills the tension and characters that don’t act like themselves or take actions that make sense.
About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.
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Amazing Spider-Man #16 continues the Dark Web event with great art and entertaining action. Still, the weirdly jokey tone is a tension killer, the characters don’t act like themselves, and the characters’ actions don’t make any sense. This event is barely out of the gate, and it’s already a bizarre misstep.