We are very close to the Nick Spencer’s first big story arc in Amazing Spider-Man with “Hunted.” This is a story that Spencer has spent the majority of his run building up to. The final pieces are coming into place for that story to really begin. One of the final pieces necessary for Kraven plans to come to fruition is to capture Rhino. This hunt for Rhino got explosive as Spider-Man and Aunt May have found themselves in the middle of everything. With how things have gone can Spider-Man, Aunt May and Rhino survive Kraven’s plans? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #15.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inker: John Livesay, Al Vey, Wayne Faucher, Victor Olazaba and Tim Townsend
Colorist: Chris Bachalo and Jim Campbell
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In his room Billy Connors is texting with one of his friends. He quickly hides his phone when his dad knocks on his door. Billy keeps Curt Connors out of his room by yelling about how he is being treated like a freak by his own parents when all he wants is to be normal. He then locks himself in his room.
Martha tells Curt to let Billy be so he can settle down. Curt is unsure how to talk to Billy. Martha says they have to let Billy be angry and calm down on his own.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man is trying his best to dig through the rubble of the destroyed restaurant in order to find Aunt May. Taskmaster tries to take advantage but is thrown to the side by an angry Spider-Man.
Taskmaster and Black Ant decide to take Rhino, who they have already captured, and leave the scene. As they do Rhino yells that he will never forgive Spider-Man.
Back in the destroyed restaurant Spider-Man finally digs through rubble and finds Aunt May with the other people who were inside the restaurant still save. Spider-Man tries to get Aunt May out first but she tells him that they have to make sure to get the others out safe first. Spider-Man uses his strength to lift a large portion of the rubble out. He then creates a ladder with his webs for everyone to climb out of the restaurant.
Aunt May notices that Brett Alstettler is stuck under some rubble. Aunt May and the homeless guy she was helping work to get Brett out of the rubble. When part of the roof starts collapsing the homeless guy pushes Aunt May and Brett to safety. Spider-Man quickly grabs Aunt May and Brett and swings them to safety.
Spider-Man then dives back into the restaurant and quickly finds the homeless guy and gets him out before the restaurant explodes from all the destruction.
When Spider-Man puts him down he is shocked that the guy turns out to be Ned Leeds. Ned tells Spider-Man to protect Betty Brant before passing away from his injuries.
Sometime later while he is with his Aunt May, Peter thinks about how the Ned clone was still alive. While he thinks of telling Betty about it Peter decides against it to not cause her the pain of hearing Ned died a second time.
Over at what used to be the FEAST Center Randy meets Aunt May. Aunt May tells Randy that she plans on cleaning up the FEAST Center and opening it back up. She tells Randy that she wants him to be part of the rebuild given his degree in social services. She then hands Randy a broom so they can clean the place up.
Underground, finding his dad already asleep, Billy decides to meet up with his friend who has been texting him to meet in person.
At Kraven’s hideout Taskmaster and Black Ant put Rhino in his cell. Kraven talks about this upcoming hunt being something that will define his legacy. Arcade asks if Kraven is sure he wants to go through with using the device he created since it might be overkill. Kraven asks Arcade if he has the tech to make it work.
Arcade reveals he does thanks to being able to get the blueprints for the device that took Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight off the table during Hydra’s takeover, something the government was trying to destroy the plans of.
Arcade then ensures Kraven that the device can create a secure shield around his African territory. Kraven corrects Arcade by revealing that the shield will actually be placed around New York City. End of issue.
The Good: Nick Spencer does what he needs to do to set the stage for “Hunted.” At this point there were only a few pieces left to be placed into position and Amazing Spider-Man #15 accomplishes its job it getting those placed. Not everything ends up working as intended but the job was done to get us to where we need to be.
The big positive for Amazing Spider-Man #15 is that it moved quickly. The stakes were already established in the last issue. Having an extended fight between Spider-Man, Rhino, Taskmaster and Black Ant was not needed. Spencer recognized this by focusing on Spider-Man’s desperation to find Aunt May alive. Going with this direction for Amazing Spider-Man #15’s story was a great decision.
Throughout the beginning portion of Amazing Spider-Man #15 Spencer was able to properly frame what Spider-Man’s mindset was as he desperately dug through the rubble. As a reader we understand how much Aunt May means to Peter and for him to see her caught in the crossfire of one of his fights was devastating for him. Framing it in this way made it understandable that he would forget all about helping Rhino out of his situation.
This is something important to establish as we are about to begin the “Hunted” story arc. Because as we learn at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #15, Kraven’s plans involve placing a impenetrable shield around New York City. With all of NYC becoming a hunting ground for Kraven’s plan that means that everyone, not just Spider-Man and other heroes, is in danger. Having regular people like Aunt May, MJ and Jameson in danger adds to how big of a story this will be for all involved.
Through Spider-Man forgetting about him Rhino was able to be given his own sub-plot that can position him back as an antagonist. For quite a while now Rhino has been in an odd purgatory spot as we’ve seen the character’s recent development make him hard to write. Now by giving him a reason to hate Spider-Man again Spencer has set up a future major storyline for Rhino.
In the aftermath of the big fight Spencer did a great job using Amazing Spider-Man #15 as a way to further establish Aunt May as a strong character. At her core Aunt May has always shown greater concern for others than herself. And even though she is going through a lot, particularly her recently revealed cancer, seeing that Aunt May wants to spend any time she has rebuilding FEAST spoke to who she is. This gives her character something to do and bringing Randy Robertson along for that rebuild will also be good for him. It’s a win-win for two people that Spencer has established as important parts of the supporting cast for this series.
The continued long-term story around Dr. Curt Connors and his family also saw positive progression. The drama around Curt unable to deal with how to properly raise his son has been well handled so far. Spencer has written both characters for us to understand why Curt is so protective of his family. At the same time, it’s easy to also understand Billy, a young kid, desire to spend time with his friends. With the timing of Billy sneaking out of the sewer just as “Hunted” is about to begin provides an interesting sub-plot. And given that Lizard is likely someone Kraven will also be hunting the danger level has only increased for all involved.
The one spot where Chris Bachelo’s art style worked was when he got to draw Spider-Man, Taskmaster, Black Ant, Rhino and Lizard’s family. Those characters all fit with the strength of Bachelo’s art style. If Bachelo comes back to draw another issue of this series hopefully it is mostly based around Peter just being Spider-Man as that is where his art shines best.
The Bad: From a story side the one thing that did not hit its intended mark was the reveal that Ned Leeds was alive. The reason that it didn’t work was that there was no build to this revelation. On top of that Ned was immediately killed off once he revealed his status to Spider-Man. That left us with very little reason to care about this clone of Ned since we had one issue to actually see this version of the character around.
It would have been much different if we saw this homeless Ned clone stick around and possibly help Aunt May rebuild FEAST. If Spencer would’ve gone down that route before having the Ned clone sacrifice himself to save someone we would’ve have cared. But since this Ned clone was not given that type of development, on top of how long the character has been dead at this point, the importance of his second death fell flat.
Once again the weakest part of this story was whenever Bachelo had to draw people. The faces on everyone that was not a superhero or villain just looked off. They didn’t match the dialogue that they were given. While likely not the intention everyone that Bachelo drew looked like they were pouting rather than actually expressing themselves. This hurt the overall impact of the big dramatic moments that Amazing Spider-Man #15 had.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #15 successfully brought us one step closer to the “Hunted” story arc. In progressing that storyline Nick Spencer also continued the positive progress he has been making with Spider-Man, Aunt May, Lizard and other characters. If it wasn’t for a plot point that fell flat and hit-or-miss artwork Amazing Spider-Man #15 would’ve gotten higher marks.