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Amazing Spider-Man #74/#875

Written by Zeb Wells, Nick Spencer, and Christos Gage

Penciled by Marcello Ferreira, Mark Bagley, Ze Carlos, Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, Ivan Fiorelli, and Humberto Ramos

Colored by Andrew Crossley, Edgar Delgado, and Alex Sinclair

Letterered by VC’s Joes Caramagna

Review by KrisK

It’s the end of another era for Amazing Spider-Man. While this run is dwarfed by Dan Slott’s almost decade long dynasty, it stands on its own. After Slott left, Spencer brought back MJ as Peter’s significant other, brought him back to college with Curt as his mentor, and got him a job back at the Daily Bugle. It was, in many ways, a return to fans’ favorite eras of Spidey. (Personally, I loved Slott’s direction and was sad many of the foundations of his run were deconstructed instead of built upon, but to each, their own.)

While Spencer started strong in the first arc, the series certainly had its highs and lows. It managed to avoid getting bogged down with certain villains though, often an issue with Spider-Man comics. Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin stayed in the background, and when Norman did show up, he did as Stormin’ Norman and not the Goblin. The symbiote shenanigans stayed with Venom and his events, and barely existed in Amazing Spider-Man. Instead, the run focused on a new villain, Kindred. Different then most the colorful rogues with animal and creature themes, Kindred dealt more with necromancy. Mysterio and Sin-Eater resurrected to raise heck in New York. Kraven even got a massive event, finally making use of the under-appreciated Gibbon.

While talking about villains, special attention needs paid to Boomerang. By becoming Peter’s roommate from the start, he got a 74 issue redemption arc, with ups and downs. Peter and he even adopted a dog like monster from another world. Spencer cut his teeth on Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Bringing Boomerang along, and occasionally the rest of the foes, not only served as a funny callback but let storylines build from the series. Fans of Superior Foes received an epilogue to the short series.

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You can’t swing a Spider-Man in Marvel without hitting a Mephisto plot.

Now, the finale. It disappointed. Spencer pitched Kindred as the big bad, but for over half the series, he remained in the shadows. The first fakeout identity reveal made no sense. The introduction of Mephisto helped a bit. He and Spider-Man go back in huge ways, and he raises the dead. The final reveal of Kindred’s identity blindsided readers with deep cut, leaving them to run to Marvel Wiki. Deep cuts work, but only if you build to them. Despite having 74 issues, the last 10-15 issues felt rushed. The groundwork was certainly not laid to dig this reveal out of the vault. I leave the spoiler-free explanation with this: think clone saga era. And its still not what you think.

The issue itself reads fine. The Doctor Strange/Mephisto portion feels forced in. In the last three years, Mephisto appears in Ghost Rider, Avengers, Iron Fist, Falcon, Scarlet Spider, and Amazing Spider-Man. Its a renaissance only rivaled by Mattew McConaughey. (Who would make a great Mephisto.) The action delivers. You feel bad for arguably the most evil human in Marvel. The back of the extra-sized issue features a great story on the power of everyday kindness and a bit of setup for the return of Ben Reilly. Marvel sidesteps the Clone Conspiracy evil clone maker portion of Ben’s recent history for now, but we will see how much they address it in the next run. (They did this in a Ben Reilly series after the event, but they really need to address it with the majority of Spider-man readers and not a small niche.)

The art team assembled dwarfs some indie comic companies. The team knocks it out, though. I honestly enjoyed the whole issue, visually. Some of the covers mislead, but what can you do? Spider-Man comics rock the best colors in Marvel. You know its Spider-Man by the vibrancy. They look for places to throw bright colors on.

While the series ended on a low, most of the run was fun. Nick Spencer spent the first half of the run goofing off and creating great adventures. The second half ebbed and flowed before resting at average. Which stinks, because I honestly enjoy most of Spencer’s comics.

Verdict: Pass. If you are wanting to get a Spider-Man hit, the series works. But if you are picking out the best of Spider-Man to read, I suggest Stan Lee. Or Slott, though you’ll burn out before you finish it.

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