Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man has hit the big 25th issue. Getting to this point was not the cleanest. The big “Hunted” story arc Spencer was building towards had a very good start that had a big drop in quality. The ending left a lot to be desired but now we can move on to other Spider-Man adventures. And lining up with Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spencer is kicked off a big Mysterio-centric story. That story started in Amazing Spider-Man #24. Now we are going to see what the direction of this Mysterio storyline will be. Let’s find that out now with Amazing Spider-Man #25.
Writers: Nick Spencer, Zeb Wells and Keaton Patti
Artists: Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Kev Walker, Todd Nauck, Patrick Gleason and Daniel Hipp
Inkers: Daniel Hipp, Dexter Vines, Victor Olazaba, Kev Walker, Cliff Rathburn, Todd Nauck, Patrick Gleason
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg, Edgar Delgado, Dave Stewart, Nathan Fairbairn, Daniel Hipp, Laura Martin
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Near the Ravencroft Institute Mysterio’s therapist contacts the police about the Mysterio being killed.
Kindred suddenly appears in front of the therapist. Kindred calls him out for being Ludwig Rinehart, an alias Mysterio used from time to time. Mysterio tries to play it off but Kindred says he knows that Mysterio brainwashed his therapist to take his place so he would be killed instead when Kindred would appear.
Kindred freaks out that Mysterio revealed his name to the therapist. Mysterio tries to apologize but Kindred does not accept the apology. Kindred reminds Mysterio he should make better use of his second chance at life after being brought back from hell. Kindred then goes on to say that he knows there is Mysterio wants and something he wants to deny someone else of. Mysterio doesn’t understand what Kindred is saying. Kindred hands Mysterio a script he wrote. He then leaves.
Elsewhere Peter is forced to miss a date with MJ to find the Lizard. As Spider-Man he is able to track down where Lizard is but must fight off a bunch of drones and a giant robot.
Elsewhere MJ meets up with Carlie Cooper to go to a Galactus play after Peter had to ditch their date night. MJ sees Melanie Daniels, who is the star of the play and the actress who took her role on Secret Hospital after having to quit do to life reasons. Melanie spots MJ and invites both her and Carlie backstage so they can catch up.
Somewhere nearby Electro (Francine Frye) is watching this happen.
Back underground Spider-Man continues to dodge the attacks of a giant robot. Eventually he is able to take down the giant robot with creative use of his powers. More giant robots appear. Before they attack Doctor Connors yells at the robots to stop.
Backstage of the Galactus play, Melanie wonders what happened to MJ as she seemingly fell off the face of the Earth. MJ mentions being an assistant of the Avengers and running Stark International for a while. Melanie assumed MJ quit acting because of the pressures of the lifestyle. After insulting MJ for not having to keep up her looks Melanie shows off her Invisible Woman costume for the play.
A little later MJ and Carlie are in the crowd watching the Galactus Play going on. As the play goes on Electro attacks the stage and takes Melanie hostage. Electro starts livestreaming on her phone about how she is going to be holding Melanie hostage until a ransom is paid.
Meanwhile MJ and Carlie make it backstage. MJ quickly comes up with a plan that she asks Carlie and the stage manager for the play.
A little while later Electro continues to make demands during her livestream. Electro does not like the comments she is getting on the livestream and thinks it may be a better idea if she killed Melanie. She decides to put Melanie fate on a poll.
Carlie suddenly appears and when she shows Electro her badge she gets hit by a electric attack.
Back underground Spider-Man tries to get Doctor Connors out of his containment cell. Doctor Connors does not want to be released because he does not know when he will lose control. Doctor Connors then transforms to the Lizard to show Spider-Man that he set up the droids to take him down if he transformed. Spider-Man dodges the drones attacks while saying he is not leaving without Doctor Connors.
Back at the play Electro continues her livestream. She looks at the results of the poll and more people voted for Melanie to be killed. Electro asks Melanie if she has any last words.
Melanie admits that she loved being able to disappear into roles but hates being famous because when the lights go out she has to be the real her. Melanie goes on to she does love pretending to be other people and she is just realizing this.
Electro is impressed Melanie came up with that monologue on the fly. MJ then takes off her blond wig and reveals that she took Melanie’s place when Electro was distracted by Carlie. Electro is stoked to see MJ as she was a fan of hers since her Secret Hospital days.
After MJ reveals how she switched places with Melanie Carlie gets back up revealing she was wearing protective padding. Electro decides to kill MJ but before she can a fish tank falls on her, knocking herself out when her powers backfire on her.
The remaining crowd in the stands give MJ a round of applause for her performance.
Back underground Spider-Man fights off all the drones while telling Doctor Connors that what Kraven did to him is no reason to leave his family. Spider-Man pleads with Doctor Connors to turn the drones off so he can help him fix the mistakes they’ve made for Billy’s sake. Doctor Connors comes to his senses and orders his drones to self-destruct.
Afterwards Spider-Man proceeds to perform surgery on Doctor Connors in order to place safeguards in case he ever transforms into the Lizard. He then takes Doctor Connors back to his family in the sewers.
After all that Spider-Man swings back home and picks up some flowers on the way to meet up with MJ. Peter apologizes and asks MJ how the show went
Sometime later Peter shows up late to Doctor Connors class at ESU.
At a coffee shop MJ and Carlie watch the news report about Electro’s attack and how MJ is being hailed a hero for what she did. MJ suddenly gets a call from her former agent. The guy says he has been getting calls all day for MJ with potential acting gigs. He mentions a specific project that he thinks MJ would be perfect for. What he does not mention is the project is one by Mysterio, who is sitting in the agent’s office during the conversation.
Over at a graveyard Kindred speaks directly to Peter about how so many changes are on the horizon that include previous sins. He goes on to state that they will soon finally have their first face-to-face meeting with their friends involved. Kindred then stares at a wall with pictures of Peter-Spider-Man, Miles Morales-Spider-Man, Ghost Spider, Spider-Woman, Silk and Superior Spider-Man.
Elsewhere the NYPD transport Electro to her prison. While in transit the vehicle is overturned by an explosion. All of the NYPD officers are quickly taken out. Electro is then let out by the Sinister Syndicate, whose members include Trapster, Lady Octopus (Carolyn Trainer), Scorpia (Elaine Coll), White Rabbit and Beetle (Janice Lincoln). Beetle then offers Electro membership into the Sinister Syndicate.
Back at ESU Doctor Connors continues his lesson about how present day science is concerned with the here and now rather than what comes next. He mentions how while we were fascinated by discovery that attention was turned to acts of war as the race to create bigger weapons transformed to giving birth to artificial intelligence and then challenging the laws of time and space.
We see examples of all this by looks at the mission that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, Tony Stark creating various versions of his Iron Man armor, Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk, the Vision’s creation and Cable’s appearance in the present. He wraps up by saying that with the constant danger of doom around them the most precious resource for all of them is the fact they have tomorrow even as the future is dying.
Somewhere in the ocean an offshore oil facility explodes. All the workers do their best to save those stuck in the rubble and trying to get off before they die. As things intensify the workers are shocked to find an unconscious Spider-Man 2099. End of the main story.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #25 is a strong reset for this series after Nick Spencer wrapped up his first year on this series. Spencer was able to wrap up several loose ends from previous storylines. In the process of all that he set-up with multiple storylines set-up that will hook Spider-Man in to see what Spencer has in store for us next.
The most impressive thing that Spencer does with Amazing Spider-Man #25 is that he does treat it as a major chapter in the lives of Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson and several villains. There is clear groundwork that is laid out that shows fans the road all these characters will be on for the foreseeable future. Some of those roads will intersect but all of them lead somewhere that has plenty of possibilities to what the endgame will be.
One of the bigger character arcs that was set up was for Mysterio. Spencer has been on a slow burn with the direction he is taking Mysterio. Since the first issue of his arc we knew that Mysterio was closely connected to the Kindred’s plot against Spider-Man. Now that plot, at least on Mysterio’s end, is finally being fast tracked.
What was particularly well handled on this part of the story was how Mysterio tried to use all his illusion tricks, including brainwash, to escape from Kindred. That is perfectly in line with who Mysterio is. Having him use an old alias, Ludwig Rinehart, was a great touch to add to how desperate Mysterio was to escape from Kindred’s clutches. Having this action not work made why Mysterio is working with Kindred understandable as he can’t get away. As things stand he must do what Kindred says. It sets him up to have a greater arc beyond him just messing with Spider-Man and MJ’s life. Now we are questioning if he can break away from Kindred by the time his character arc ends.
Speaking of MJ, it was fantastic to see her get time to shine. Spencer does a great job setting up MJ as someone that is done spinning her wheels. Her mentioning what recent jobs she has held was a good way to show how she has not been actually achieving what she wished. She has just been working on whatever jobs came her way because of necessity rather than true passion.
Now with Amazing Spider-Man #25 we got to see MJ step into the world of acting that she loved but had to leave. Not only that but she got to do it in a way she was able to be the big hero of the day. Spencer did a great job showing how MJ can quickly think on her feet and come up with lines of dialogue to save her friend, Melanie Daniels. It was all creatively done as MJ tapped into her real emotions enough to even trick Electro into dropping her guard so she can be defeated.
In the process of all this Spencer was also able to continue to slowly integrate Carlie Cooper back into the fold of Spider-Man’s supporting cast. Carlie got the short end of the stick during the Superior Spider-Man Saga. Too much damage was done that she was in need of a reset which is exactly what Spencer is giving her. In the process, Spencer has been able to develop Carlie as a good supporting cast member to use either as MJ’s friend or in big police cases.
On Spider-Man’s side of Amazing Spider-Man #25, Spencer was finally able to wrap up Lizard’s big character arc. This has been something Spencer has been developing since the first issue. Doctor Connors coming to terms with the Lizard side of him is an important part of his arc. He can’t hide from that part of him no matter how hard he tries.
That is where Spider-Man’s role becomes greater. Knowing the man behind the beast gave Spider-Man a chance to tap into the humanity Doctor Connors feels like he loses each time he becomes the Lizard. Spider-Man reasoning with his friend and scientific mentor shows that he can inspire others when needed. This moves Doctor Connors’ character arc to the next stage as he actually builds a life for his family rather than keeping them all locked up in the sewers.
This development also opens up greater possibility to explore Peter and Doctor Connors’ relationship. With everything that has happened to Peter having a mentor like Doctor Connors is what he needs. As we see with his lecture, Peter is clearly being inspired by what Doctor Connors said. It hopefully means that Peter will move out of his comfort zone of just thinking about the present and does actually look to what he can do to make the future better, something he attempted with Parker Industries.
With both Peter and MJ gaining some progress individually it will be interesting to see how this affects their relationship. Thus far they have used the early stage of their regained relationship to get back in the groove of being together. They have been careful to stay cool with each other this time around. But now as they both explore their areas of interests we will see how they handle this together.
There are already hints we may see some trouble arise as MJ is growing frustrated with Peter spending more time as Spider-Man as of late. With Peter still unemployed him being more active as Spider-Man. That focus may be the biggest challenge to their relationship since we have been seeing how Peter can have a tunnel vision when focusing on his Spider-Man responsibilities. Its to the point we even saw him ignore having the flu during “Hunted” and now missing a big date MJ wanted him to be there for support.
The appearance of Spider-Man 2099 at the end of the main story was a good hook for a future storyline. Spider-Man 2099 has been a character that hasn’t been able to catch on as he once during his first few years after being created. Though with all the focus on the strong Spider-Man Family in the last few years this could be a good chance to develop a storyline for the character. Having him interact with Peter should also push the idea of looking towards the future forward as well.
With Amazing Spider-Man #25 being an anniversary issue we got two back-up stories as well. The first story, “Team-Up” by Zeb Wells and Todd Nauck, made good use of the time permitted to deliver an out of this world-type adventure. Specifically seeing Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson actually having to team-up to take on a mystic threat was a good way to explore their dynamic. Though it is not clear how the cliffhanger with Spider-Man and Doctor Strange will go or when it will be followed up on.
The second back-up by Keaton Patti and Dan Hipp was the stronger of the two. The fun tone this story took was a great change of pace for the rest of the issue. It was just a pure joy to read a more chibi-like adventure that had a very Teen Titans Go! feel to the story. Which is appropriate given that Hipp was an art director on the Teen Titans Go! cartoon.
The artwork in general for Amazing Spider-Man #25 was great as well. Even with how many artists that worked on this issue there was a consistent style maintained. The only one that was strikingly different ways Hipp but that was on purpose since that story had more of an animated tone. That is impressive given that Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Kev Walker, Todd Nauck, Patrick Gleason have different styles. But they were all able to pull together to adapt each others style so it did not pull you out of the story when the artist change happened.
That is highly important given that there were several major storylines being set-up by Spencer. Ottley’s artwork in particular stood out with his MJ story in Amazing Spider-Man #25. He also did a great job in making subtle changes such as the change in MJ’s eyes to show when she changed places with Melanie. It was a great subtle move to immediately tip the reader off to what MJ’s plan was.
Humberto Ramos also does a very good job in handling Spider-Man’s scenes in this issue. He always does his best work when showing Spider-Man in action. Ramos gets over how much agility the character has during fights that are combined with his spider-sense.
It was also great to see Peter Tomasi, in particular, drawing a Marvel comic book. He was a great talent working on various DC Comics’ titles. Now that he as at Marvel Tomasi has a chance to draw a completely new set of character. You could tell how excited he was with how he adjusted his style to have a more grounded Marvel look while not losing what makes his artwork one of the standouts in the industry.
The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #25 was not perfect. There were a few key problems that held it back. The biggest problem with Spencer’s story continues to be that with the Kindred character. Since his introduction Kindred has added absolutely nothing to the stories he has popped up in. Amazing Spider-Man #25 was no different, which is a major problem given that he had the greatest amount of screentime in this issue compared to past appearances.
What hurts the overall story that Spencer is trying to tell with Kindred is that the character is completely unnecessary. Everything he has involved himself with, whether its partnering with Mysterio or manipulating other events, he is not needed to further things. Given all the characters we are seeing Spencer develop they could all be positioned in the place they end up in without Kindred. Spencer could’ve easily removed Kindred from the equation and given that precious page count to develop Mysterio and Spider-Man’s other villains and the same development would’ve happened.
Because of that it makes the way Kindred come across as someone that is instead bring everyone down just so Spencer could develop his pet project. That is not the right way to develop a villain that is supposed to be an endboss-level threat. Unfortunately that is still not the case for Kindred. Instead he is still just coming across as a creepy stalker who will be quickly taken out by the Spider-Man Family.
The other questionable development route that Spencer has taken with Spider-Man’s villains is how he has decided to split them up. In Amazing Spider-Man #23 we saw Vulture form the Savage Six being formed. Now with the Sinister Syndicate being formed we have second spinoff of the Sinister Six. That is on top of the work Spencer has done with creating the Superior Foes of Spider-Man that boomerang is a part of.
These are a lot separate groups that just act as a spinoff of the Sinister Six concept. It is just not a unique angle to take for these villains since they are all just doing the same thing in forming teams against Spider-Man. It does not help that Spencer is splitting them up into a male, Savage Six, and female, Sinister Syndicate, version of the Sinister Six. We are in 2019, not the early 1900s. Spencer should be smart enough to know that this is a backwards concept to have when it comes to creating various storylines.
What would’ve honestly been better for all villains involved was to have Beetle and Vulture created a Sinister Council that combines the two Sinister Six groups. By doing so Spencer would immediately elevate the threat-level of all the assembled Spider-Man villains. He would’ve been able to avoid the focus on how both groups are just second-tier ripoffs of the iconic Sinister Six. The attention would’ve then been purely on the threat of these 12-15 villains that see the need to assemble together to take down Spider-Man.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #25 does a great job setting the tone for the second year of Nick Spencer’s run on this series. Through this oversized issue Spencer was able to create compelling storylines for Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Mysterio and others to follow. Not all these storylines worked as intended, such as the Kindred plotline falling flat. Still there were more than enough intriguing things in development that Spider-Man fans can be excited for moving forward in this series. Amazing Spider-Man #25 boasting an all-star cast of artist further helps in elevating its importance.
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