The Beyond Era introduced their biggest villain thus far with Queen Goblin. Not to be confused with Madelyne Pryor’s Goblin Queen, this new Queen Goblin is none other than the clone of Dr. Ashley Kafka who has been working for the Beyond Corporation. If that wasn’t enough it looks like Beyond Corporation has worked their corporate magic to keep Ben Reilly in line by erasing any rebellious memories that goes against their plan for their Spider-Man. All this has led to Ben’s Spider-Man abandoning Mary Jane Watson to fend for herself against Queen Goblin. How will all this turn out for the Beyond Era? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #89.
Beyond Board: Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saldin Ahmed, Patrick Gleason, Zeb Wells
Writer: Patrick Gleason
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Andrew Hennessy and John Dell
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After Dr. Ashley Kafka is turned into Queen Goblin by the Beyond Corporation scientist she rages out and breaks out of the facility.
Over at McCarthy Medical Center, Peter Parker notices the report on Queen Goblin attacking the Daily Bugle. Knowing that he isn’t strong enough to face a villain Black Cat sticks Peter to his hospital bed using his web shooters.
At the Daily Bugle, Black Cat is able to make it in time to save Mary Jane Watson from Queen Goblin’s grasp. As they fight Queen Goblin is able to use her Goblin Gaze to amplify all of Black Cat’s negative emotions and memories. This leaves Black Cat mesmerized state and succumbs to Queen Goblin’s suggestion to commit suicide.
Before she hits the ground Peter shows up and saves Black Cat. This helps break Black Cat free of Queen Goblin’s control.
Seeing that he is ready MJ gives Peter his Spider-Man costume. When MJ and Black Cat ask Peter if he is ready he says that his secret is “I’m never ready” and takes off after Queen Goblin as Spider-Man.
In a flashback to five minutes earlier it is shown that Janine Gobde is the one that broke Peter out of the webs in his hospital room. Janine says that she and Ben need Peter’s help. End of issue.
The Good: The deeper we have gotten into the Beyond Era for Amazing Spider-Man the more we see how Ben Reilly is shifted into being one of the least intriguing aspects of this run. Amazing Spider-Man #89 showcases that as we see how Peter Parker, Felicia Hardy, Mary Jane Watson, Maxine Danger, Dr. Ashley Kafka, and Janine Godbe all make you forget that Ben is even around.
The opening of this issue set the tone well as we see the Beyond Corporation go full evil corporation with the procedure they do to turn Dr. Ashley Kafka into the Queen Goblin. The deeper we get with the Beyond Era one of the major positives for the direction is how Maxine Danger’s character has been developed. She does not hide the fact that every decision she makes is for the benefit of her Beyond Corporation. And when her plan works as she intends them to she takes great pleasure in it, which we see with the opening of Amazing Spider-Man #89. There is a Frankenstein’s monster aspect to how it all goes down with Maxine Danger reveling in her creation of Queen Goblin going full villain when killing the Beyond Corporation staff responsible for the transformation.
Showing us the procedure that turned Dr. Kafka into Queen Goblin made the chaotic rampage she went on more understandable. She was treated as nothing more than a lab experiment for the latest Spider-Man villain creation so of course that would damage anyone. Gleason and Bagley did a great job in both the writing and artwork showing the type of chaos Queen Goblin brings. Giving Queen Goblin the added Goblin’s Gaze superpower made her an even bigger threat as we see how powerful of an ability is with how it caused Black Cat to almost die. With Peter still recovering there is a great sense of danger with his first fight back as Spider-Man if he isn’t careful against Queen Goblin.
Bagley being on art also helped to give Queen Goblin a classic feel to how she acted as villain. While heavily taken inspiration from the Green Goblin, the more monstrous look to Queen Goblin helped to push the narrative of her being more similar to Frankenstein’s monster in this introduction. The page where we see how Queen Goblin’s gaze impacted Black Cat psyche really elevated how concerned you were for Felicia in this fight.
The lead up to the fight with Queen Goblin made good use of what we’ve seen with Peter’s current arc. Gleason took what the rest of the Beyond Board did to give weight to Peter’s struggle to go right away to save MJ and the others at the Daily Bugle. With the training he has been going through it was smart that Black Cat would be the one to tell him he is not ready. She knows better than anyone where Peter is at in his recovery after his near-death experience. The dialogue between the two was all well balanced between their friendly banter relationship and serious notes on Peter’s current state.
Peter being left to break free from his own webs was also a good way to show that he needed to show his full determination to become Spider-Man again. It’s not just about putting on the suit again. He needed to power through obstacles as Peter Parker to show Felicia, MJ, and himself that he is ready to suit up again. This all gives a more well rounded development for Peter’s arc in the Beyond Era as he has had to take this near-death experience seriously.
Janine Gobde showing up as the one who helped break Peter free from his confinement was a nice twist. Over the course of the last few issues Janine has finally been given actual character development that has made her into a person with her own agency. It is what Janine has needed since being brought back into the fold. How Janine helping Peter out factors into the narrative around her and Ben’s situation with the Beyond Board is something now I am interested in seeing.
The Bad: As I said in the opening, you really do not miss Ben Reilly’s presence in Amazing Spider-Man #89 whatsoever. Even when MJ and Felicia are mentioning his name it barely ever registers. Its only until Janine shows up at the end that it clicks that Ben has had the dominant character arc in the Beyond Era. That is not a good thing with how this current Amazing Spider-Man run has been trying to reestablish Ben Reilly as an important character to the Spider-Man mythos.
Which all just speaks to how Ben’s arc just has not been as interesting as it should be after fifteen chapters of this Amazing Spider-Man Beyond direction. He is such a blank slate of a character that when we found out about the mental manipulation the Beyond Corporation has put him through it was a light bulb moment that he is just a bland character right now. Seeing all the great character development that Peter Parker, Felicia Hardy, Mary Jane Watson, Maxine Danger, Dr. Ashley Kafka, and Janine Godbe got in Amazing Spider-Man #89 just further highlighted how bland of a character Ben has been.
Overall: Judging Amazing Spider-Man #89 solely on the content of the story Patrick Gleason and Mark Bagley did a great job in establishing Queen Goblin as a major threat. How Queen Goblin’s introduction helped to further Peter Parker’s story in the Beyond Era made his return as Spider-Man even more exciting. That said, all the great character and plot developments further highlighted how Ben Reilly, the current lead Spider-Man, is turning into the least interesting part of this series. We’ll see if the next issue can bring Ben up to the level of Peter and all the other great characters in this series.