By Zack Quaintance — I’ve maybe written about this in past Amazing Spider-Man reviews, but I tend to view this title as Marvel’s vanguard book, its flagship, a barometer for how the publisher is doing as a whole (in much the same way Batman indicates what’s up at any given time with DC). This title re-launched in July after nearly a decade under one writer, Dan Slott, and in that decade, the book became a complex one, capable of pulling together months of patient storylines into mostly-satisfying and always-ambitious crescendos. Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, to me, always felt urgent and dancing on the cusp of lasting change, even if the realities of corporate comics prevented that change from becoming permanent.
This new run, courtesy of writer Nick Spencer (Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Astonishing Ant-Man), has a different set of strengths, and while it’s still way way too soon to speculate which run will ultimately be better, Amazing Spider-Man #10 is a great example of this. In this issue, Spencer and his new direction do something well that was maybe a bit lacking in the Slott Spidey era. I’m talking specifically here about a small-yet-intensely-emotional character-driven moment that draws from Peter Parker’s long history rather than the events of the most recent issues.
Yes, in Amazing Spider-Man #10, Peter and Black Cat sit together on a rooftop after a wacky and outlandish superhero team up. This is familiar territory for Spencer, who uses the exhausted heroes on a ledge conversation fairly often, generally to great effect. I definitely remember at least one really well done such talk in Ant-Man that saw Darla Deering calling out Scott Lang on his shit. In fact, come to think of it, the rooftop conversation I enjoyed so much in this issue of Amazing Spider-Man was, to an extent, Black Cat calling Spidey on his shit, or at least being emotionally honest in a way that gave him a choice between ignoring her suffering or being a good guy (he picks being a good guy).
I won’t give away the exact nature of the conversation or of Peter’s choice. I will, however, note that it sort of brings back an element that had been missing from the Spider-Man mythos in recent years, his long history with Black Cat and how it’s affected them both. In some ways, through the first 10 issues (nearly a year by traditional comics standards), returning missing elements to the Spider-Man mythos has been the bedrock of this new run, with the biggest of course being Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane. With that noted, it’s perhaps poetic that memory was a theme in Peter’s conversation with Black Cat, because one can only assume it will again come into play as the story more directly unpacks Peter and Mary Jane getting back together. Basically, it seems like some thematic foreshadowing is being done here, and being done well.
Speaking of Mary Jane, the other primary strength of this individual issue was her secondary arc (or maybe it was primary? I think it may have been…) in which she attends a support group for the significant others of super-powered beings and ultimately takes a step toward healthy independence within her relationship. It’s an emotionally nuanced storyline, and, as with the exchange on the rooftop, Spencer’s scripting handles it well. I’ll note one more time that it’s early, but part of this run’s success so far seems to be a death by 1,000 cuts approach to the narration, stacking little humanizing moments upon each other in a way that enables the book to hit big emotional beats (as in this issue) when it needs to. If this is how it feels after 10 issues, I’m curious to see where we’ll be at after 20-plus, or, cynically, whether or not the team can maintain it.
Overall: Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run continues to find a cruising altitude with this emotionally-satisfying conclusion to a storyline that saw our hero teaming up with Black Cat. Perhaps more promisingly, the book seems bent on enshrining Mary Jane Watson less of a supporting character and more of a co-star right at the heartfelt center of the action. 9.0/10
Amazing Spider-Man #10
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Humberto Ramos and Michele Bandini
Inker: Victor Olazaba and Michele Bandini
Colorists: Edgar Delgado and Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.