Since ending the underwhelming “Hunted” arc Nick Spencer has gotten his run on Amazing Spider-Man back on track. The strong focus on Peter Parker’s life in and out of being Spider-Man has been well balanced. One of the interesting character arcs Spencer has been developing over the course of the last few issues was what is next for Mary Jane Watson. She has sort of just being wandering around after losing her job with Tony Stark. Though it looks like Mary Jane has rediscovered her passion for acting once again after a recent run-in with Electro. That passion has led her to land an acting job in Los Angeles thanks to a plot by Mysterio and Kindred. How will this new role affect Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship now that they will be long-distance? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #29.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Francesco Manna
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Mary Jane Watson’s apartment Peter helps MJ rehearse for her lines. After doing a read through Peter is surprised how good the script is. MJ mentions that the role was apparently written with her in mind. Noticing that she is hesitant to take the role, Peter tells MJ she has to take the role.
The next day Peter helps MJ pack for her move to Los Angeles. MJ is still second guessing going to LA. Peter says he can go with her but MJ reminds him that he just started back up at Empire State University and he can’t leave Doctor Connors hanging. MJ reminds Peter they’ve been through a lot of tough times and she is not leaving for good as she is keeping her apartment.
After kissing Peter takes off to do his Spider-Man thing but promises to see her off at JFK. MJ wishes Peter didn’t jinx that.
While swinging through the city Spider-Man thinks how he wants to break the cycle of always fighting supervillains. He then thinks how no one knows more about dealing with obstacles more than Aunt May.
Peter decides to go help Aunt May with fixing FEAST. While painting a room Peter talks to Aunt May about MJ’s move. Peter admits he is worried about losing MJ again. Aunt May reassures Peter that he couldn’t lose MJ even if he tried.
Aunt May brings up how back in the day she and Ben broke up a few times before eventually getting married. She says that love is a messy and frustrating but at the end of day being there for each other is what matters. Aunt May then gives Peter something that surprises him.
As Aunt May talks about Peter and MJ’s history with one another Teresa Parker (Peter’s super spy sister) suddenly shows up with some burgers from Shake Shack. Aunt May is happy to see Teresa again and goes to get some plates so they can eat together.
With her out of the room Teresa reveals she needs Peter’s help as Spider-Man. Peter tries to act like he didn’t hear that as he needs to meet MJ at the airport. Teresa says it is important as someone she knows who has been radio silent for a long time sent out a distress call recently. Teresa says this is David Alright who she trained with and cares a lot for.
Elsewhere “Nick Fury” reflects on how everyone thought the world would be better without SHIELD. Chameleon takes off his mask to reveal he was “Nick Fury.” Chameleon reveals he used the fact that SHIELD’s security protocol not being updated in a long time helped him trick David into believing he was Nick Fury.
Chameleon then proceeds to download all the secrets that David has in his mind. Chameleon reveals he plans to sell those secrets, including where some recommissioned Helicarriers are, to AIM. He goes on to say that the device downloading all the secrets from David’s mind has the side effect of killing the user. Chameleon then reveals what he wants is where “his” hiding place is.
Back at MJ’s apartment Carlie Cooper helps MJ finish packing. MJ shows concern that Peter hasn’t returned any of her calls. Carlie mentions that there is a Lookups group in LA. MJ still wants to give Peter some time to show up. Eventually she has run out of waiting time so Carlie helps MJ go to the airport.
Knowing he won’t make it to meet MJ Peter still goes to help Teresa out.
Spider-Man and Teresa break into Chameleon and AIM’s hideout. Spider-Man and Teresa are able to take out all the AIM guards.
They eventually reach the room that Chameleon is holding David. Chameleon is nowhere to be found. When Teresa checks on David she is gets extremely angry to find that David is dead.
Later that night, on Facetime, Peter apologizes to MJ about not being there to see her off. MJ says it is not a big deal but Peter can’t help feeling like he let her down again. MJ jokes that working in Peter’s favor is the fact she has years of practice to understand how things are with Peter being Spider-Man. Peter admits he already misses MJ. MJ says she misses him too and wishes him a goodnight.
After hanging up the phone Peter sits alone in his room and reflects on how he wanted tonight to finally get things right and surprise MJ. He then looks at the ring Aunt May gave him that he planned on using to propose to MJ with. He then thinks maybe he can propose another day. End of issue.
The Good: The focus of Amazing Spider-Man #29 being around the shake-up in Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson allowed Nick Spencer’s writing to shine. Even with this being a character focus issue Amazing Spider-Man #29 Spencer drives towards a goal. When all is said and done, Spencer is able to get to that goal while creating even more interest for this series future.
Where Amazing Spider-Man #29 works best is the pacing of the issue. Spencer kept the story moving forward even as the focus was mainly on where Peter and MJ are in their relationship. Spencer never gets to the point a scene overstays its welcome. Every scene and character in this issue served a purpose. In the process characters like Aunt May, Carlie Cooper, Teresa Parker and Chameleon get time to shine alongside Peter and MJ.
This all added to how we see how much Peter and MJ’s relationship has matured. They both aren’t new to what it means to having long-term relationships. Both together and separately, Peter and MJ have enough experience to know how to keep their relationship going strong. That is shown at at different points in Amazing Spider-Man #29 with Peter and MJ keeping each other’s spirits up even as they face the trials a long-distance relationship for the next few months.
It is honestly refreshing to see both of them growing to be at this point where they understand each other fully. Even something like Peter missing out on seeing MJ off at the airport is something she understood why it happened. Peter didn’t have to spend a bunch of time trying to explain what happened. Life as Spider-Man takes a lot of time and MJ knows Peter only missed his promise because something extremely important needed his superhero attention.
With all that it is good to see that they aren’t taking a break from each other because of the long-distance. This long-distance relationship gives Spencer and Leah Williams, writer for the upcoming Amazing Mary Jane series, the opportunity to keep Peter and MJ as supporting characters in each others titles. That is a powerful narrative tool to have as they will have someone to turn to for support that can also act as an outsider given their current distance.
On that point, Spencer does a great job in setting the stage for Mary Jane to break away into her own ongoing series. Having her move to Los Angeles opens more opportunity to not wonder why Peter isn’t around all the time, especially with how Mysterio factors into her new acting job. It’ll also give MJ the opening to have a supporting cast that isn’t completely made up of the supporting cast on Amazing Spider-Man or the other Spider-Man comics. This will be her friends and co-workers that help create the world she lives in now in Los Angeles.
At the same time Spencer creates the opening to involve other supporting characters in the Marvel Universe with Carlie bringing up that there is a Lookups group in Los Angeles. The Lookups group is a concept that Spencer hasn’t really explored very much. It is a great concept to give supporting characters in the Marvel Universe a chance to further grow their characters. Mary Jane can tap into that and we can get character interactions that we normally wouldn’t see in a normal superhero title.
Spencer also does a great job writing Aunt May. Once again Aunt May shows how important she is to this series as she openly and honestly talks to Peter about what it means to be in love. She puts everything in perspective for Peter in the way he most needed with everything that has been going on. There was nothing held back in what she said which made the item she gives Peter something that was clearly important.
This conversation with Aunt May made the ending have greater impact as we find out that Peter intended to propose to MJ using his aunt’s ring. This was another great showing for Aunt May as she understood what Peter was thinking of doing and gave him her ring to do so. It was an important moment that once again shows how the mother-son bond they share. It also provided us with a strong hook to leave Peter and MJ’s relationship on that can be followed up with once MJ returns to New York.
With the Spider-Man action portion of this issue it was good to see Spencer starting to show what Chameleon is up to after the villain’s appearance at the end of “Hunted.” This was one of those plot points that could’ve easily dragged. By showing how Chameleon is gathering valuable information from the spy world Spencer has now set up a strong foundation for a bigger story down the line. Having it centered around the spy-world, as we saw him go after SHIELD information, also gives Chameleon’s plot a different tone to that of Spider-Man’s other villains.
Francesco Manna provides solid artwork throughout Amazing Spider-Man #29. Manna’s art style is very reminiscent of Ryan Ottley’s Spider-Man work to date. There is some of the energy present in Ottley’s style missing but it does not mean Manna’s art was bad. His art worked well in helping get over the various layers of emotions Peter, MJ, Aunt May and Teresa Parker were showing on their faces. He also did a solid job with delivering a short but effective fight that showed the good teamwork Peter and Teresa share.
The Bad: Teresa Parker unfortunately continues to be a problematic character whenever she pops up. Chip Zdarsky did start to develop Teresa into a more complete character during his run on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man but she was still not there when that story ended. The same is the case here as Spencer adds to Teresa’s past but there is still a lot missing to make her a key character in Spider-Man’s supporting cast.
What hurt Teresa’s appearance in Amazing Spider-Man was how it just felt thrown into the story for the purposes of giving Peter a reason to have an adventure as Spider-Man. The adventure they share doesn’t get passed it being adding the predictable dramatic story beat of Peter missing out on saying goodbye to MJ at the airport. It was clearly the purpose that Spencer had this Spider-Man action scene serve and he couldn’t shake that feeling, even with what the mission meant to Teresa.
The addition to Teresa’s backstory would’ve been more effective if it was the main story rather than a means to distract Peter. At this point, Teresa’s character needs to be spotlighted in a way that is more about exploring her backstory. But that doesn’t happen here even with the quick flash of her training with her former partner and love interest. Especially if Teresa is going to be part of the larger plotline around Chameleon Spencer will need to do a better job in how he integrates her into Peter’s life.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #29 is one of the best issues to date from Nick Spencer’s run on this series. Spencer does a fantastic job writing Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May’s characters throughout this issue. The way he explores the state of Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship in particular is the heart of the story that is presented. That heart is strong enough to create a lot of interest in the future of both Amazing Spider-Man and the upcoming Amazing Mary Jane series.
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