Gleason’s writing chops are nothing to mess with and pair beautifully with legendary artist Mark Bagley in a satisfying issue that I couldn’t put down, as far as verdicts go, you’re not going to get a better one than this.
The Amazing Spider-Man #90
Written by: Patrick Gleason Artwork by: Mark Bagley
Published by Marvel Released: 23/2/22
As a quick refresher, in the past couple of issues, Ben Reilly has been partially mind-wiped by those slimy rapscallions over at Beyond, the same dudes/dudettes that have unleashed the Queen Goblin on New York. On top of that, Old Peter Parker has managed to get back on his feet and is on his merry way to put an end to Queen Goblin’s reign of terror!
We begin with Beyond’s top dog, Maxine Danger tracing Ben Reilly as he swings across a bridge with Janine, who notices there’s definitely something off about Ben, which is where he confesses that he feels like he’s missing something in his mind (which, by the way, he totally is, being brain wiped and all). He tells Janine that he just needs to focus and everything will be hunky-dory, but Janine knows that’s not good enough, it’s at that point that she spills the Intel she’s discovered about Beyond. Or rather, how they’ve set up the whole thing, sending out super-villains for Ben to stop so that they can get good publicity for themselves and their little Spider-man project. They decide that they’re going to take it to the top and go confront the big bosses at Beyond, but first, we’ve got some sweet, sweet action to attend to.
Pete is up in the skyscrapers, battling the new Queen goblin foe, which is where we get a ton of quality Spidey crack-ups, from getting confused with the X-men’s Goblin Queen to mentally crying for help as he barely manages to dodge the goblin’s blows. It’s moments like this where I feel Patrick Gleason really understands and gets the Spider-man character, I don’t feel like it’s one writer’s take on Spider-man, I just think of it as Spider-man, which is the best kind of writing. Of course, it’s great to actually know who’s writing a book by the tone it sets and dialogue and all the rest of the mumbo jumbo. But when it feels so much like the definitive, quintessential character, that’s when you know you’re doing a good job of writing a mainstream comic book. Obviously, it’s awesome to get some subversive material from creators not typically known for the superhero genre like, for example, Pete Bagge’s megalomaniacal Spider-man as well as a lot of other early 2000’s marvel books, which was a very interesting period for the company, but for Marvel’s flagship title, Pat Gleason does a fantastic job of realizing what readers want out of the main Spidey title. And speaking of what readers want, Mark Bagely is delivering some of his best work in the last 20 years in this issue as Spidey and the Goblin take their battle through offices, Spider-man billboards (with the Sam raising font, nice touch), and even subways. Every panel has energy inside it, there’s so much going on, but in a really good way, these pages are bursting at the seems with excitement and it really displays Bagely’s accumulation of skill on his 30-plus year tenure drawing the character. I, at least, got the sense that he must have really enjoyed penciling these issues and it shows great stuff.
Getting back to the story, the Queen goblin manages to use her unique “Goblins gaze” ability which she used successfully on the black cat’s last issue, which would have resulted in her death if not for the web-slinger arriving just in time. So Peter falls into the sea and goes through the whole “you’re not good enough” thing, but Spidey is able to defeat the hold it has on him, in his words “Doesn’t she realize self-doubt is kind of our thing?”. Pete manages to jump up out of the water and deliver the finishing blow to the latest addition to the Goblin Hall of shame.
Spider-man is able to get back onto the docks, where he meets up with MJ and the Black cat at that moment in all great superhero stories, where the previously split apart gang get back together again for the big finale, Peter is sent on his way to find Ben by his companions, but as we check up on Ben, he is kind of going a little bit insane, he’s not going evil insane, but Beyond have really scrambled his eggs to the point he doesn’t even remember Peter’s name when they meet up, but Ben pushes through it, and this installment ends with a page as awesome as when I found 20 pounds in a grid that one time, which means its totally awesome. Both Spider-men, suited up and ready to take Beyond down, Once and for all!
This issue was one of the best parts of Beyond to date, delivering all of those epic moments you know you love as we dive headfirst into what is bound to be an incredible final act of Spider-man: Beyond. Gleason’s writing chops are nothing to mess with and pair beautifully with legendary artist Mark Bagely in a satisfying issue that I couldn’t put down, as far as verdicts go, you’re not going to get a better one than this. Although if I had to make one small gripe, I would say that the Beyond company’s whole twist and game plan is a little predictable, but that is an issue that pails in comparison to all of the great aspects of this Spidey-saga. Join me soon for the next chapter!
SPIDER-MAN is Marvel’s most popular, iconic, and lucrative character. He’s been headlining the comic industry for 60 years and has no shortage of iconic stories such as Kraven’s last hunt, the night Gwen Stacy died, coming home as well as a myriad of others. However, those are stories mostly EVERY Spidey fan has at least heard of if not read multiple times over, and not every great Spidey story has had its fair share of attention, so here’s 10 (count ’em, 10) Fantabulous Spidey books that deserve a little more love.
Some ground rules: 616 only (this list would be too hard if it wasn’t), must feature Spider-Man (obviously), and must be in comic book form, no books, games, or movies/shows are going to be found here.
10: THE CLONE SAGA (1994-1996)……..yup
Yes, the clone saga. THAT clone saga. The 2-year mega-event that for some reason is cast aside as a convoluted, uninteresting, pointless mess. Whilst it IS a convoluted mess, it’s got a hell of a lot going for it and most people you talk to likely haven’t read it due to what they’ve heard (and also the fact it was a 2-year mega-event). The clone saga gave birth to great stories like power and responsibility, revelations, and the heartbreaking issue 400; let’s consider these honorable mentions. I for one think that stories like these make memorable additions to Spider-man’s long history and so does the clone saga as a whole. The reason the clone saga is at the bottom of this list is that it’s kind of a cheat. It’s more of an era of Spider-man than one storyline but screw it, I want to show it some love. Go the 90’s! (P.S this isn’t the last you’ll hear from the clone saga on this list).
9: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD (Sensational Spider-man annual #1 2007)
The final hurrah of Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage before one more day (curse you, Joe Quesadaaaaa!) is a really beautiful, touching story set during the post-Civil war era where Spider-man is on the run from the government. Two paths are taken. Peter Parker in a cafe talking to an agent and also Mary Jane talking to a S.H.I.E.L.D operative. That’s just the setup however, the great part of this story is the flashbacks, redrawn masterfully by Salvador Larroca, the book gives us both sides of their experiences together in an incredible one-shot issue. I won’t spoil it so you’re just gonna have to go and read it!
When the self-titled ‘Spider-man’ title of the ’90s came to an end in 1998, it was relaunched as Peter Parker: Spider-man the following year (not to be confused with Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man). In 2003, this new series would end, bringing the run to a definitive ending. The title gave us a hell of a lot of long box fillers but on the other hand, did deliver some fantastic stories like the one listed here. REBORN is the work of acclaimed writer Zeb Wells alongside legendary Maxx creator Sam Kieth. REBORN centers around the sandman…Um, sandmen rather. William Baker’s alter ego is having a supernova of a mental breakdown, dividing himself into parts: his good-hearted self, a seductive woman, an innocent child, and a disturbing villain. In the midst of this, Spider-man attempts to solve Baker’s problems and stitch himself back together for the better. The ending of this arc is kind of sad, however, and ultimately Spider-man loses. If you want to know how I guess you’ll just have to read it for yourself!
7: DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN (Marvel Knights: Spider-man (2004) #’s 1-12)
Mark Millar has delivered some of the most prominent comic book stories of the last 30 years: kick ass, the secret service, the ultimates, swamp thing and so much more, I could go on for hours. Marvel Knights Spider-man however, is a series that doesn’t get noticed enough though. Without a doubt, you can walk into any comic book shop and find an issue from this series no question. It’s absolutely everywhere and yet it’s treated like box filler! It’s great! It’s exciting and moody, bringing new villains like Mac Gargan as Venom into the mix as well as old ones like Norman Osborn himself, the thriller tone to the book keeps you from putting it down and Terry Dodson and Frank Cho do an absolutely jaw-dropping job on pencil duties. The only reason this series shouldn’t be on your bookshelf is that a complete collection trade paperback is pretty tough to come by and if you manage to spot one, it’s likely to run you some change, so the cheapest way to get your hands on this series is to actually get the floppy’s in all their well-loved glory.
6: VS.FIRELORD (The Amazing Spider-man (1963) #’s 269-270)
Do you want to see Spider-man beat the ever-loving H-E-double hockey sticks out of a herald of Galactus? Yes? Well then, you’ve come across just the Spidey story for you! This quick, two-issue arc from 1985 delivers one of the worst @$$ Spider-man moments of all time. Firelord, a cosmically powered super being descends upon the earth for nothing more than a slice of pizza, in the process, he ends up getting a couple of New York citizens hurt which royally ticks Spider-man off. So with the little confrontation between the two, Firelord begins hunting Spider-man down with no signs of slowing until Spidey uses a combination of brains and brawn to beat the snot out of the former right-hand man to the galaxy’s scariest foe. And don’t be deceived by the (absolutely incredible Ron Frenz) artwork, all though Spider-man IS in his black suit, his powers aren’t enhanced as it’s not the actual symbiote, meaning Spidey took the Firelord out with only his standard set of arachnid-enhanced abilities. The only reason this balls to wall epic isn’t further up on this list is that it’s probably the most famous among the tales on this page and is not actually THAT underrated.
5: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CRUSHER HOGAN (The Amazing Spider-man (1963) #271)
Well, would you just look at that? Roger Stern and Ron Frenz must have been doing something right when they delivered this sensational story right after the last entry on this very list! Whatever happened to Crusher Hogan is the only issue of Amazing Spider-man that made me cry (yep, I’m man enough to admit it). Crusher Hogan is, of course, the brutish wrestler Peter Parker fought all those years ago in Amazing Fantasy #15. Unfortunately for Crusher, these days he’s a caretaker of a wrestling ring under the ownership of Man-slaughter, a big ol’ tough guy akin to tombstone or kingpin. Crusher tells these wonderful stories to the kids training there about how he trained Spider-man and gave him his web-shooters and the like. So when Spider-man shows up to take down Man-slaughter, the pair finally reunite. Although Crusher’s stories were all nothing more than fables, Spider-man gives Crusher vindication for his hard work and tells all the kids at the gym that Crusher really was Spidey’s mentor, they shake hands and Crusher was brought to tears, truly one of the most beautiful and heart-warming stories in Spidey history. If you can find this issue in the wild, I promise you that you won’t regret picking it up.
Remember when I was talking about the relaunched Peter Parker: Spider-man title? I said the majority of it was just long box fillers but there were some highlights. This story is one such highlight. A very, very high, light. Written yet again by Zeb Wells and again featuring the Sandman, this is probably the most fun, and funniest Spidey book ever, and when you’ve got an artist as cool as Jim Mahfood (GRRL SCOUTS author) there’s no way you can go wrong. If you want an absolutely hilarious story about the Sandman invading an MTV beach house equivalent with a certain web-slinger thrown into the mix, this is one story you don’t want to miss out on!
3: A MATTER OF FAITH (Taken from Spider-man: Holiday Special 1995)
It’s Christmas Eve, and Ben Reilly is taking out the trash in the New York City allies. (Yep, Ben Reilly, What did I say about the clone saga, eh?) On his patrol he sees that a woman is falling off the side of the Queenborough bridge, he instinctively swings in to save her but once they land safely on the ground, for the first time in Spidey’s career, he doesn’t get a thank you because tragically, the poor lady didn’t actually want to be saved. Sadly, the woman jumped off, so Spider-man decides he’s gonna show her around the city in an attempt to lift her Spirits, but on their tour, the D-list super-villain Scorcher shows up on the streets of times square! Spidey and the villain do battle but when some debris is flying straight for a member of the on-looking crowd, the woman heroically jumps in and saves them. Ben is able to teach Jenny (the lady’s name) that life is beautiful and worth living. Spidey is able to leave Jenny with a more hopeful output on life as they wish each other a merry Christmas. I myself have never actually heard anybody talk about this story, ever. So if YOU, o’ humble reader, see this, then hopefully you’ve discovered a story you weren’t formally aware of (or maybe you just know everything).
2: THE LOST YEARS (Spider-man: the lost years (1995)
Once more, we venture into the divisive clone saga for one of the most straight-up awesome Spider-man stories ever. Written by Spider-man vet J.M Demattias (Kraven’s last hunt, c’mon) and penciled by Spidey legend John Romita JR. The lost years take place in the five years in-between the original clone saga in the ’70s and its 90’s counterpart. Centering around Ben Reilly and his ‘brother’ Kaine, these issues tell two sides of the same story in an unexplainably awesome fashion. I won’t spoil it, but this book reads like a thriller novel. We’re given all the tropes of a great Tom Cruise movie and it works like a charm. If you have a day or two to spare on a shorter Spider-man series, this is it! You don’t even need to know anything going into it whatsoever except that it’s not Peter Parker we’re following, but his clone. Stunning art and a stellar story, what could possibly go wrong? The lost years is one Spider-man storyline you’ll never forget.
1: THE COLLABORATOR (Spider-man’s tangled web (2002) #15)
Here we are, number one on this list. So that means that in my opinion, at least, this should be the best and yet most underappreciated Spider-man comic book ever. Well friends, I truly believe that this is it. The collaborator is the greatest Spider-man comics book of all time.
It’s not just the best-underrated one, I can honestly say that this is the best. Ever. Master of independent comics Paul Pope joins marvel for a one-shot story for Marvel’s criminally overlooked tangled web title which tells the tale of a teenage girl who absolutely adores Spider-man, more than anything in the world. Unfortunately, her father doesn’t share the same opinion. But when the daughter is caught in the middle of a super-powered attack, Spider-man appears on the scene, on one page only, for the girl to tell him where the Villain went. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the end for you because you owe it to yourself to hunt this book down like it was dinner for tonight. The sheer brilliance of this story lies in the fact that it is a Spider-man comic book through and through and yet he appears on one solitary page, in silence. The story isn’t even about him but it shows Spider-man how he would really be. The story is crafted to make you anticipate and build your expectations for the arrival of the wall-crawler and when he shows up you find yourself awe-stricken by the sight of this hero. It’s simply Amazing, Spectacular, sensational, ultimate, one could go as far to say its Web of. When I say that you NEED to read this issue, I really mean it. Treat yourself and snatch it up. My imaginary hat goes off to Paul Pope 1000%.
And with that, we draw to the conclusion of our list. So what have we learned? That’s right, Spider-man rocks and we should read more comics. Good night!
This comic gave me everything I wanted. A hero and villain fight, character development, sharp humor, and a great cliffhanger.
Amazing Spider-man #84
Written by: Cody Ziglar Artwork by: Paco Medina
Published by Marvel Released – 5/1/22
THE DOCTOR IS IN!
Otto Octavius makes his sinister return in this issue of The Amazing Spider-man, but is he really such a bad guy? Yeah, he kind of is. However, the real question is: are Beyond worse?
Somehow, Doc Ock manages to slip into Beyond’s offices without tripping any mental alarms in the employees, it’s only when the turtle man (only people who read issue 80 will get that epic reference, and if you didn’t, there’s always my review on this very website you can skim through!) spots his ginormous octopus arms that they realise that they have an A-list supervillain in their office! It’s just a small thing, but the fact they put the turtle man back in the book as a cute little reference is a really nice touch and I can’t tell whether to feel rewarded for reading all these Spider-man comics or sad for paying so much attention, but screw you, Spider-man’s awesome.
So we end up getting another one of those flashbacks with Uncle Ben, where he has a webbed hole in his face, this is about the 4th one I think? And once we jump out of it, it just turns out to be Ben in therapy with Doctor Kafka, who, by the way, keeps on getting younger? Like seriously, if you guys go and look at her earlier appearances in the ’90s and 00’s she even has some white in her hair but over the years, she’s reverted into a 20 something-year-old, what’s up with that? Anyway, we check in on Janine as she and Ben appear to be going out for dinner which is a welcome touch as it shows the readers that these two are ACTUALLY dating, it’s something they haven’t actually done too much with Pete and MJ in recent years, it just makes it feel more authentic when they actually do stuff together instead of just being around each other a lot.
Cody Ziglar seems to have his strong suit set in character realism, in the past few issues he’s written of Spidey, we feel like these people are like us, and not just immortal gods that continue to be caught in an infinite loop of fighting super-powered enemies. Well, we would feel that way if Ben didn’t immediately get dragged into Beyond’s offices to fight Doc Ock! Before he goes though, he has to part with Janine and every scene that these two are in together makes me love them (agape style, not literally), and it kind of breaks my heart that this story is going to end in just 3 months time, I’m going to miss the couple and hopefully if they’re not dead in a Ditch by the end of this saga, they’ll get their own book someday? One can dream.
Octavius has taken Beyond staff hostage as he tries to attain Beyond’s central hard drive with all of the big, bad Intel on the company, let’s just call this the McGuffin of this book. Once Ock gets inside, he also gets a fantastically drawn Spider-man’s foot to the face as Ben shows up to tackle Otto for the first time since the clone saga, and even then it was his female counterpart so this is quite a cool sight to behold. Ock tells Ben that he’s only here for the info and things are looking up when Spidey slaps a mega cool anti-Doc-ock device on Octavius which causes his arms to go limo (insert funny ED joke here). But at this moment, in an incredibly cool moment. Ock just removes his metal companions and destroys Spider-man, using the control panel to barrage him with bullets and sonics, so this just in, Doctor Octopus just whooped Spider-man’s tooshie without his tentacles! And modern marvel veteran Paco Medina makes this brawl look astonishingly sleek, his Spidey looks so fluid and insect-like, he really sells the fast movement of the character and makes it look stunning as he does it.
Ben awakens to Marcus and Maxine Danger, the high up, scary boss of Beyond who assigns Ben to retrieve the Mcguffin at all costs, Ben continues to have problems with Beyond, or at least Maxine’s handling of it, but can’t rebel in fears of giving up his life and Janine’s freedom from prison and so his part in this issue ends with him accepting his mission. On the other hand, Octavius is far from done causing trouble for Beyond because THEY have assumed all of Parker Industries, the company Otto formed during his time as Spider-man (confused? Pick up Superior Spider-man!). His gauntlet begins once this book ends with him storming Beyond tower!
This comic gave me everything I wanted. A hero and villain fight, character development, sharp humor, and a great cliffhanger. Ziglar and Medina make a fantastic team and I’m twitching to get my next fix of two men with animal-based identities fighting about a company that stole one of their businesses assets (which they built whilst they had control of the other’s mind)! Come back into the Spidey corner soon when I blabber on about that for a few paragraphs.
In previous ‘Beyond’ issues, Peter Parker has been slowly recovering from radiation poisoning and at this point in the beyond storyline, he’s in a very weakened state and can barely remain consciou
The Amazing Spider-man #82
Written by: Saladin Ahmed Artwork by: Jorge Fornés
Published by Marvel comics Released – 22/12/21
Spider-Man gets spooky in this oddball issue of the Amazing Spider-Man as writer Saladin Ahmed teams up with eerie artist Jorge Fornés to create a one off, special issue!
In previous ‘Beyond’ issues, Peter Parker has been slowly recovering from radiation poisoning and at this point in the beyond storyline, he’s in a very weakened state and can barely remain conscious for 5 minutes. After being moved out of the ICU , Peter meets a guy in the same ward, after talking to him for only a few moments, a doctor comes and wheels him Away, Fornés manages to use his art create an off-putting tone for the issue by obscuring the doctor and he is helped by the colourist Dan Brown, choosing to use a colder colour pallet in the room.
Being wheeled away, the patient cheerfully says goodbye to Pete as MJ enters the room to visit. Midway through the conversation, the mysterious Doctor, whose face is still hidden tells the wife of the other patient that he was never registered to the hospital, which is evidence enough this Doc is one bad dude. Another nice bit of attention to detail is that the panels showing the outside of the ward displays mostly warm colours, just a nice touch to emphasise the dark, cold feeling of the room. Pete notices the doctors lies but before he can say anything, he falls asleep.
Finally, the doctor enters the page on full display, a grotesque looking man with blood red eyes, it’s such an exciting moment as you see the villain of the story emerge, looking just as you’d expect. Great stuff. The doctor clears MJ out if the room and takes another woman from the ward, unbeknownst to her, his intentions are far more sinister then he let’s on and as she’s wheeled away. Peter tries to stop him but he moves to fast, jolting into pain and fading into unconsciousness. Ahmed is surprisingly good at knowing how to build tension in readers through his storytelling like in a movie when the main character has solved the mystery but is helpless to do anything about it.
When Parker awakens, the doctor decides it’s time to take him away and wheels him through the hospital, taking him to the abandoned -2 level. These pages are riddled with gorgeously morbid images of subtly uncomfortable panels such as The use of shadows the doctor emits which show him to look even more disgusting then he himself does and the Dutch angle shots, symbolising a sense of uneasiness . Once the doctor reaches his destination, he gives some exposition to Peter and shows him a pile of bones (presumably from the other patients) before walking into the darkness to emerge as a giant demon monster thing! In its creepy glory, it prepares to star eating Spider-man as it tells him about its weakness (which is incredibly stupid, I mean c’mon man he’s Spider-man you should know that’s a bad idea even if you don’t know he’s Spider-man). He says that light causes him pain which helps out MJ a lot, who was spying on the pair and flashes the monster with her phone, temporarily stunning it!
Leading him into a room of lights, she manages to set the creature on fire and burn it to a crisp in a particularly horror movie fashion. I just have to mention the colours once again, they make this scene so much more energetic from the moody blues of the abandon corridors to the blinding light of the fire, it’s probably one of the best colour jobs marvel have put out in a while. And sticking to the horror movie tropes, the two treat the whole fiasco like its no big deal and move on.
After that, we get a little epilogue with Misty Knight and Coleen Wing in the sewers, stumbling upon the lizard. This weird little spinoff in the beyond saga is the only part I don’t really understand. I mean, why are they there? I’ve tried to find other books they’re in to try and piece together their involvement but this is it. They just show up in random spots with no explanation. Weird, right?
Overall, this book is a special one, it was a really great one off read with great atmospheric writing, art and colour similar to stylish horror movie from the 70’s. This issue really impressed me and I hope we can get more off shoot stories like this in Spidey’s future. Next time, we stay with Peter in an issue Marvel says contains “on of the biggest moments in Spider-man history!”, Be here! 10/10 (wow!)
Amazing Fantasy is a title I’d strongly recommend for anyone either intrigued by the lovely cover art, curious about the displacement of some key Marvel heroes, or who wants something a little different.
Amazing Fantasy #3
Story: Kaare Andrews Art: Kaare Andrews Colours: Brian Reber Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics Released October 2021
I keep coming back to the covers for Amazing Fantasy 1 and 2 over and over, just to enjoy them, to find new details, to appreciate the skill of their creator. This one’s no different.
Here we have Black Widow, framed by an unmistakably alien vista, the victor of a battle against strange foes. It’s a wonderful piece of art by Kaare Andrews, once again nodding to his influences while creating something suited to the modern age. There’s a strong retro-futurism feel here, recalling the work of greats such as Ed Emshwiller, Virgil Finlay and the fantastical cityscapes of Frank R. Paul. There’s more than a dash of Rodney Matthews here too and, as each of these fantasy and sci-fi greats brought us whole new worlds of incredible imagination, so too does Kaare Andrews with his cover art here. If there are any elements that draw you in, be it the gorgeous rendering of Black Widow and alien companion, the Soviet rocket ship, the strange structures on the horizon, then you would do well to not only check out this run but also investigate Andrews’ predecessors.
While each of the three primary covers for Amazing Fantasy so far have been worthy of the ‘amazing’ tag and very much stand on their own, they also serve to signal a comic story which places its characters in situations and settings which are several steps from the norm. While the atypical nature of Andrews’ title might be divisive when it comes to audience, there are enough familiar elements to ease readers into this new world and allow them to enjoy the adventure.
And what an adventure it is! The action moves at quite a pace now, and early in this issue Andrews’ establishes the drums of war as a central theme. Certainly tensions have been building as each of the three main characters find their feet in this strange new land.
Another familiar face from the Marvel universe makes her entrance proper while a young king, Black Widow at his side, makes a bid to avert the impending conflict. Meanwhile, Captain America (in full pulp hero mode) attempts to rally the tribe of the Cat People to act against instinct and tradition in order to defend themselves. Spider Man/Peter Parker remains with the people of Dragon Rock, who make their own preparations.
Add to all this, two other bestial tribes, both of whom chomp at the bit for conflict, and soon we hear the drums start; DOOM, DOOM, DOOM. Moments of court intrigue and quiet reflection are done. Now is the time for battle to be joined.
Andrews switches to epic wide panels to depict both the prelude to war and its main act, a technique which works to great effect, especially when paired with the repeated sound of drums, literally spelling doom. The action is enhanced further by Brian Reber’s colours, shifting here to a dark, hellish palette and so fully immersing us in the grim events facing our heroes. The writing is working well too, with tight dialogue and good characterisation. Kaare Andrews guides us through his ‘Island of Death’ with confidence and no small amount of mystery, supported throughout by some great lettering work from Joe Sabino, who presents the words clearly while respecting the artwork.
The story brings a good number of dramatic moments, reveals and twists; certainly enough to make for a compelling page turner. By the time we reach the cliffhanger ending, we are left ready to read on, to look forward to the next instalment. And, as the preview of issue four’s cover would indicate, yet more stunning art to appreciate.
Amazing Fantasy is a title I’d strongly recommend for anyone either intrigued by the lovely cover art, curious about the displacement of some key Marvel heroes, or who wants something a little different. As an added plus, this is a limited run and as such should be easy to track down and collect in its entirety. There are some great variant covers around for each issue too, so seek them out if you can!
As Ben and Marcus (Ben’s supervisor) discuss their plan to attack, Marcus brings up the fact that since its in Brooklyn, there’s a mighty high chance Miles will ‘swing’ by onto the scene…
The Amazing Spider-Man #81
Written by: Saladin Ahmed Artwork by: Carlos Gómez
Published by Marvel Comics 15/12/21
One of the most anticipated chapters of BEYOND is finally upon us! The two rookie Spider-men collide in one action packed issue with a brand new creative team of Saladin Ahmed and Carlos Gómez.
This issue starts with (I believe an introduction of a new villain) Rhizome being spotted on the loose in Brooklyn. I’ve attempted to do some digging and it looks like this is the first appearance of Rhizome which is a welcome addition. Just to have ANY new marvel villains in this day and age is quite a feat, the last time Spider-man faced a new villain was Kindred back in 2018! Hopefully we get more new villains in Spidey’s future, fingers crossed.
As Ben and Marcus (Ben’s supervisor) discuss their plan to attack, Marcus brings up the fact that since its in Brooklyn, there’s a mighty high chance Miles will ‘swing’ by onto the scene, being the Borough’s resident web-slinger. Ahmed seems to really know how to give characters a personality, like most of the beyond issues, he manages to add in titbits of humor and depth to the character of Ben Reilly. Like in the introductory scene, we get some nice quips and when asked to enforce the Beyond trademark on Miles, Ben is weary but still accepts. Little pieces of characterization like this makes the characters feel more real and show readers Ben isn’t just blindly following Beyond’s orders. This is also been building up throughout the storyline which, by the end, I’m sure Beyond will be exposed and/or put out of commission by the friendly neighborhood you-know-who.
A character I really love in this Spider saga is Janine Godbe. She’s Ben’s girlfriend and she’s an interesting, 3-dimensional person. She first appeared back in the infamous clone saga in 1995’s Spider-man: the lost years, she’s had a complex story involving her having to take her own fathers life . After the clone saga ended however, Marvel figured that to tie up a loose end, they’d just throw her in prison for her justified crime (see why its justified in the said 90’s mini-series, its really good!) And practically shelved the best new character of the clone saga. But now, she’s back in the mainstream Spider-man series and it’s always fun when she shows up. Anyway, apologies for the tangent. Ben checks in with Janine and takes off to Brooklyn.
As Ben makes his way to the scene, he showcases his awesome Spider-wings that actually make him fly, which is totally awesome. Once he gets to the area of destruction, he discovers that Rhizome is nowhere to be seen and that’s when Miles shows up on the case. After Miles realises Ben isn’t the Usual Spider-man doing the rounds, they have a cool little sparring match which showcases each others abilities , since they’re both semi newcomers, they’re pretty evenly matched and the fight only ends once Ben blurts out Peter’s name, showing that he is connected to the OG Spider-man. Ben and Miles talk it out and find that they had actually met in Spider verse/Geddon. The both of them do some duties around the block that was damaged and save a few lives, deciding to team up and find the loose Rhizome which Ben manages to do with ease due to Beyond’s advanced tech.
The fight with Rhizome goes down pretty swiftly with the two Spider-men using a combination of Ben’s webs and Miles’ venom sting to take down the force of nature which, in actuality, was just a guy in a fancy suit supplied by an enemy Miles knows called “the Assessor”. This serves as Miles exit point as he goes to track down the Assessor and whatever other juiced up villains he has on hand with Ben and Miles making a friendship and the former doesn’t attempt to give Miles any kind of warning. The fight was beautifully drawn by the hugely underrated Carlos Gómez who has done some amount of work in almost every marvel book you can possibly imagine. The guys art leaps of the page and has so much energy in it, it makes the issue go so much faster and has you missing it once its over, brilliant stuff.
Thus issue concludes with Ben receiving a Scolding from Head of Beyond, Maxine Danger which results yet another Beyond lecture on how the company has poured so much resources into him and Janine, (the Beyond lecture may actually become a villain of its own so make sure to buy five copies of the first time Ben Reilly’s most dangerous foe appears!!!) These things never seem to get through to Ben however and I’m sure he’ll continue in his rebellious, good hearted ways. As an epilogue, Maxine is revealed to be holding a jar of the material Rhizome was made out of, this might mean that Maxine danger planned the villain to break free and unite Ben and Miles? Or maybe it even means Danger herself is the Assessor, which would give Miles a far bigger part in the story. All interesting stuff!
This issue of the Amazing Spider-man lived up to its well deserving title. Exciting and mesmerizing art coupled with an edge of your seat script make a stellar issue of the webbed wonders adventures. Be here soon for an oddball tale of a problem in Peter Parker’s medical ward…
As far as writing goes, I see no flaws with this issue. It’s tight witty and funny, everything The Amazing Spider-man should be in my opinion…
Amazing Spider-man #80
Written by: Cody Ziglar
Artwork by: Michael Dowling
Published by Marvel comics
KRAVEN GOD TIME!!! In case you didn’t see my last review (in which case, what on earth are you doing?) The all-new Spidey is all drugged up on kraven’s mystical hallucinogens and is running scared from a huge God like Kraven creature. The newest beyond chapter pulls no punches and throws you right into the action, so let’s dig in quick before it’s over!
Whilst entranced by the poison running through his veins, Ben Reilly is thrust into a flashback of sorts where we get two incredible splash pages done by artist Michael Dowling (whose art in this issue is especially gorgeous) where we get to see Ben Reilly’s greatest fear on show in front of his eyes; the feeling he’s nothing more than a hollow shell of Peter Parker (who is a clone of. So technically, y’know…he is) upon seeing the grotesque illusions, Ben plummets down into an alleyway where Kraven waits for him as he tells Spidey that the trial has only just begun.
Snap back to reality (oh!) where the beyond corporation is in a state as to where their Spider-man has gone when Ben’s personal supervisor Marcus receives a call from Ben’s girlfriend Janine, also in a frenzy about Ben’s disappearance, she proceeds to give Marcus a verbal whooping if the rear and tells him he better bring Ben back alright.
Ben is not alright. He wakes up in some dark room, surrounded by other kidnapped civilians (who he sees as weird anthropomorphic dudes). One of the civilians who was seen in the bar last issue, gives Ben some of Beyond’s wonderful hangover pills to discard the hallucinations in the funniest Spider-man scene in the last however long where Spidey adjusts to the animal creatures in front of him, its very funny. Read it.
After coming to his senses and getting of that room, Ben discovers that he’s on a huge cargo boat when Kraven attacks him in a pretty exciting fight. Ben eventually over powers Kraven, tossing him over into a vat of some sort of chemicals. Before Kraven can be apprehended however, he disappears into the mist. Never to be seen again, even though of course he will be seen again because he’s Kraven.
Spidey gets back to beyond tower and reunites with Janine and all is well in the Reilly household, but maybe not the Morales one. Chief supervisor at beyond Ms. Danger (brilliant name) prepares to send the new Spider-man to take out Brooklyn’s very own Web slinger!
As far as writing goes, I see no flaws with this issue. It’s tight witty and funny, everything The Amazing Spider-man should be in my opinion, props to Cody Ziglar! Art duties in the book were covered by the previously mentioned Michael Downing who delivers some really beautiful art in this comic so we’ll done to the beyond team, keep it up. Stay tuned for next issue’s spider throw down!!
Whilst it doesn’t boast the non stop, cataclysmic action of earlier beyond chapters, it’s still no pushover and serves as a great continuation of the latest Spidey super arc.
Amazing Spider-man #79
Published by Marvel comics on 25/11/21
Written by: Cody Ziglar
Artwork by: Michael Dowling
The latest chapter in the beyond arc sees Ben Reilly settle into his role as Spider-man as he struggles with the beyond corporation’s tight grip aswell as coming face to face with the new (and improved?) Kraven the hunter.
The creative team has yet again had another 2 issue change. Which I like the idea of, so far we’ve had Zeb Wells and Patrick Gleason, Kelly Thompson and Sara Pichelli and now we’ve got Cody Ziglar and Michael Dowling bring us the beginning of this short story featuring Kraven! Our story begins with a beyond corp party at a bar, when one drunk worker is leaving the party down an alleyway, a mysterious shadow overcasts him as we cut away to Ben having his suit fixed up due to his encounter with morbius (see my review on issue 78). Marcus (Ben’s supervisor) chats the usual dirt about how “beyond has sacrificed a lot for you blah blah blah”. After their conversation, Ben goes out to see Peter in the time he has spare before he has to go on an assignment.
MJ sits at Peter’s bedside as Ben enters through the window, I really enjoyed the little bits of chemistry shown between the characters in this book. I wasn’t aware of Cody Ziglar before reading this (I think he may have written some Spider-man books before) but his writing feels really natural, it allows the reader to feel more involved in the comic and view these characters as real people. Ben says his goodbyes and swings off to stop an armoured car robbery, after doing so, he gets a call from Marcus, who needs to Ben to stop by the home of a beyond board member in distress. Upon arriving, he finds the man dead on the floor but before he can investigate any further, his Spider-sense is set off, but its to late has Ben is hit by a huge explosion!
Kraven reveals himself to the bruised up Ben and gives him a good beating until he manages to find his way out of the building. However, when Ben is in free fall, he’s it with a mirage of poison tipped darts, which send him spiralling down to the edge of a building. Broken, Ben manages to muster up the strength to stand, but when he dies, he is faced with a 500 foot huge kraven monster God who is the result of Ben’s hallucinations, right?
This issue was a decent read, Ziglar’s writing felt totally smooth and human and was accompanied by some really nice artwork by Dowling. Whilst it doesn’t boast the non stop, cataclysmic action of earlier beyond chapters, it’s still no pushover and serves as a great continuation of the latest Spidey super arc.
This book features some good, old school, 90’s fun. When everything was going great for the most part, when Spidey was married, Venom and carnage were the coolest guys around and clones weren’t on anybodies mind.
Web of Spider-man (1993) #97 (Retrospective)
Published in 1993 by Marvel Comics
Written by: Terry Kavanagh
Artwork by: Alex Saviux, Derek Yaniger
Welcome to this corner of the Spider-verse, to a time long, long ago. 1993. Horses were still being ridden and the world enjoyed blissful ignorance to the horror show that would be…Coldplay. Also, this issue of Web of Spider-man was released!
Web of Spider-man was the sister in-law to the Amazing Spider-man (the sister series being the spectacular Spider-man). It began in 1985 and for a while there, it was the more artsy Spider-title, featuring incredible ,then upcoming artists like Arthur Adams, Marc Silvestri and Mike Mignola. This was all well and good until issue 35 when artist Alex Saviuk jumped on board. Don’t get me wrong, his art is good and in later issues (around issue 100 and after) even great but his seven year stint on the book made it feel like the lesser Spider-man book on stands. His house style would have been no doubt perfectly adequate in other time period but then the 90’s rolled around. Artists like Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagely were making waves with their electrifying pencils And even Spectacular Spider-man had legendary marvel artist Sal Buscema on the title leaving Web of Spider-man the weakest series. That’s not to say “Web of” was bad though, the issues before the one being reviewed here were part of the awesome Spirits of Venom storyline which crossed over with the spirits of vengeance book. And a few issues later, the 14 part epic maximum carnage was told in part in the pages of Web of. So with all that context out of the way, let’s get into this issue.
First of all, this issue marks a first appearance, being that of Nightwatch who appears in a weird scene where he introduces himself to some dudes on a beach. The story is mainly centered around blood rose, the new moniker of…the rose. The issue starts with him taking down some gangsters in a particularly gruesome fashion for a Spider-man book. We then cut to Peter at the doorstep with Betty Brant who has dinner with the Parkers (which, at the time, included Peter’s ‘parents’). Just as a quick side note, this a time where Peter and Mary Jane were married which was the best part of Spider-man comics for about twenty fricking years and they ripped it away from us. WHY MARVEL, WHYYY!!! Sorry about that, just have some issues with Joe Quesada’s at a certain comic book publishers.
Once dinner is finished, Peter is being yelled at by Robbie Robertson when a huge explosion is hears from Fisk towers, Pete suits up and gets caught up in a bloody rampage that blood rose is making. Gunning down men left and right and throwing them out of windows until Spidey intervenes. Rose makes a getaway, or so we think until he shows up behind Spider-man with a hostage! Spidey it’s the hostage in the face with impact webbing (which was pretty funny), making him land on the webbed net outside the tower. Rose shoots at our hero until Spidey can get a couple of punches in when the tower quickly begins exploding and collapsing upon the pair. Outside, bystanders are evacuated as Spider-man breaks through the rubble. Stumbling upon Robbie and also, on a cliffhanger note, the Blood Rose!
This book features some good, old school, 90’s fun. When everything was going great for the most part, when Spidey was married, Venom and Carnage were the coolest guys around and clones weren’t on anybodies mind. The book was by no means bad, but just a little predictable, which is fine. If you have me a trade with 20 issues of Web of I’m sure I’d enjoy it, but then again it wouldn’t rock my world.
Things look pretty rough for Peter but it makes for one heck of a story!
The Amazing Spider-man #75
Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst
Written by: Zeb Wells
Artwork by: Patrick Gleason
Released on 6/10/21
Published by Marvel Comics
BEYOND IS HERE!
So I haven’t been THIS excited for Spider-man in quite a while now, I was hyped when this new run started because we finally got a change up from Dan Slott to Nick Spencer and my favourite artist Ryan Ottley was on the book aswell.
However, as the series progressed, we lost Ryan Ottley (on Spider-man, he is still very much alive) around the halfway point of the run and the plots got a little stale (Kings Ransom and the Chameleon Conspiracy to be specific). The stories were in my opinion, more exciting than the previous run but lacking the constant state of epic-ness and energy that the book had seen before, but now, I think things are finally going to be… amazing (forgive the pun) once again. Let’s dig in!
This time around, the story starts with a young Peter Parker walking the streets of New York with Aunt May, blowing up a piece of gum. Aunt May realises she never bought that for Pete and asks where he got it from, Peter doesn’t understand what he did but said “it felt too easy”. They end up going back to the store and paying the store clerk for the gum and once they get home uncle Ben asks to talk to Peter, giving him a speech about the man who you are in private and that you can’t hide from him. Ben turns around, disfigured by a hole in his face with spiders crawling out of it and we soon discover it was just a dream.
Peter wakes up miserable over Harry’s death (last ish) and decides to go get some fresh air outside, on a specific building where its quiet and solitary, where he has nothing to worry about. I always like little things like this, they communicate to readers that Peter is a human being; he still faces problems and tribulation and has his safe spaces of his own to go to, they really drive home the “everyman” aspect of the character. Once he gets up onto the roof of this building he sees another Spider-man swing past?! Spidey throws a slue of tricks at the imposter but they prove useless; his webs bounce right of the shady character and they run right through the wall Peter pulls down on them. Following that, a spider looking device is deployed and wraps Peter up, allowing the doppelganger to escape. The device tells Peter that he will be let go in an hour and he should use this time to “reflect on his life’s decisions” Which might be the funniest thing I’ve read all year.
The following day, Pete runs into Ben Reilly (who last appeared in Iron man a few years back I believe but I’m sure you’re familiar with the character from the infamous clone saga storyline back in the mid 90’s). They talk in a restaurant and Ben reveals it was him who was running around the night before and that’s what he’s come to talk to Peter about. The beyond corporation has hired him to be Spider-man after acquiring the trademark to the hero from the now defunct Parker industries (the company Otto Octavius began when he was in control of Peter’s brain, when Peter regained control he totally tanked the company and had to sell off all the assets although he was unaware Otto had trademarked the Spider-man name). Ben came to tell him that he wasn’t asking to be a Spider-man but that he will be, like it or not. After all, they both have the same moral code so its not like you can keep him out of the fight. Peter has no choice but to accept it and they go their own ways.
Ben returns to his penthouse in the beyond tower to his girlfriend Janine, who just got out of prison last issue. There’s a pretty nice moment where they take in just how different their living conditions are now from a few years ago until its interrupted by Reilly’s overseer of sorts to partake in some sort of session.
We cut to later as the (typically hulk villains) U-foes are carrying out a mission when Peter arrives on the scene to stop them, he makes a joke about the stench that X-ray carries when they reply that the joke wasn’t funny the first time when, all of a sudden, Reilly breaks through the debris under him. They team up against the villains and hold their own until X-ray let’s out an explosion of ionising radiation, reducing the area to Rubble; as Ben recovers (due to his radiation proof suit) and goes to re-group with Peter he sees that Pete’s been injured pretty bad and as he falls to the ground and blacks out, the issue ends.
Things look pretty rough for Peter but it makes for one heck of a story! Before I talk about anything else I just want to talk about beautiful wrap around cover by comic book veteran Arthur Adams! This cover was jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the solicited covers for the beyond books look incredible, in other news, I loved this book! Pretty sure this is my favourite issue of Spider-man since the red goblin arc in 2018.
I didn’t realise how much the title was coasting until I came out of it and beyond looks like a non-stop thrill rife and I can’t wait!!! I’m pretty sure they had me in mind when they made the series thrice-monthly if I’m being completely honest. Zeb Wells writing was funny, exciting and did a spot-on job of all the characters personalities and the like although Wells is no newcomer to ASM, he’s done several short stories in other spider-books and scripted the awesome storyline SHED back in 2010 with legendary artist Chris Bachalo. Patrick Gleason’s art in this book is really just brilliant, I love the way he draws Spidey but I just have one teeny, tiny nit-pick on the artwork which is that it can be pretty inconsistent. I double checked and he is the only pencilled on the issue but it looks like it can be two different styles at some points. In parts, peter looks in style with Gleason’s art but in others he looks like a 3-d tracing. It’s the only problem I’ve had with his art, I don’t know whether he gets worn out or if he’s just experimenting with different styles but when that’s my biggest complaint with a comic you know it’s good, it’s sooooo good. BUY IT!