Amazing Spider-Man #55 Review

Amazing Spider-Man #55

It’s been a long two year journey to get here but Nick Spencer has been able to navigate his way through to create his own Amazing Spider-Man epic with ‘Last Remains.’ This arc has been an emotionally heavy story that has challenged Peter Parker in ways that he never expected. All those challenges have been brought to Peter’s life by none other than his best friend Harry Osborn, who has become the demonic Kindred villain. With everyone that Harry Osborn as Kindred “invited” to the dinner he is hosting with Peter as the featured guest now in attendance what will happen next in ‘Last Remains’? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #55.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Patrick Gleason

Colorist: Edgar Delgado

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Kindred wakes Peter Parker up so he can see that Ghost-Spider, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Silk, and Madame Web are now part of their dinner. Kindred rants about how Peter’s selfishness has caused others, including children, to carry his legacy and become a family even though it will just lead to their deaths.

Ghost-Spider tells Kindred that if he is going to kill them to get it over with. Kindred calls Ghost-Spider out that while she looks like their Gwen Stacy she is nothing like her.

Kindred then shows Peter a look into the cemetery so he can see Mary Jane Watson is stepping into the room where they are in. Kindred then welcomes MJ to the dinner. MJ already knows Kindred is Harry Osborn (thanks in part to Norman Osborn as shown in Amazing Spider-Man #54.LR) and calls him by name. While he is surprised by her knowing his real identity Kindred still offers MJ a seat at the table.

Powered by his anger Peter breaks out of his restraints and starts slamming Kindred all over the room they are in. Kindred quickly recovers and overpowers Peter. As Kindred is about to kill Peter again MJ yells at Harry to stop. MJ says that if Harry wants to have a dinner with all of them then they should do as he would like, much to Peter’s surprise.

Outside in the cemetery Norman Osborn contacts Wilson Fisk to let him know that MJ is inside the tomb dining hall Kindred created.

Back inside the tomb Kindred takes off his mask and Harry starts talking to MJ about their college lives and how their relationship ended soon after Peter and Gwen broke up (Harry also mentions Gwen’s time in Europe and calls that period “complicated”). MJ says that isn’t the truth but Harry says it was obvious why MJ broke up with him, much to MJ’s exasperation.

Peter calls out Harry over how he has warped their friendship, saying that while they made mistakes they were kids back then. He goes on say that Harry has never grown out of being a spoiled rich kid who, if things didn’t go his way would freak out.

Amazing Spider-Man #55

Peter Parker brings out the worst out of Harry Osborn by talking about Norman Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man #55. Click for full page view.

Harry then calls Peter out for withholding the truth that his dad was the Green Goblin. Peter says he did that to protect Harry. Harry freaks out saying he had the right to know because Norman was his father. Harry goes on to say how keeping the truth about Norman caused the whole Europe “incident” and Gwen’s death at the bridge. Harry puts his Kindred mask back on and says Peter’s selfishness will once again lead to everyone’s death.

At the entrance of the tomb Norman puts on his Green Goblin gear on and runs in, while telling Wilson Fisk he is inside.

Back at the dinner Kindred starts throwing Ghost-Spider, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Silk, and Madame Web around the room. Peter brings up how things don’t add up as Harry has shown he moved past all the events Kindred is talking about.

Kindred turns his full attention to Peter and starts beating him to death while screaming “YOU DID THIS TO ME!” As that happens we get a flash of Harry’s “Brand New Day” speech.

MJ suddenly says that Peter doesn’t remember anything Harry is trying to reference. MJ goes on to say that if Peter did remember then he would’ve already said what Harry wants to save them all. MJ then brings up the conversation she and Harry had back in the day (events from the 1993 Spectacular Spider-Man #200 issue).

Harry says that MJ is still blinded to the fact that Peter just brings death on all them and he has to end it now. MJ challenges Harry to end it there with her. Harry is surprised by this. MJ says that Harry deserves a confession from her. She talks about how bad of a friend she was as she was dealing with a lot back in the day and likely led to all of this. MJ goes on to say that if Harry as Kindred wants to actually get through to Peter then he should spare the others and kill her instead.

Seeing that Harry is hesitating MJ calls out Kindred by saying that if Harry is always talking about legacy than taking away someone Peter loves is the simplest way to get what he wants.

As Kindred is about to kill MJ, Green Goblin suddenly shows up. Green Goblin reveals he knew everything about Harry’s plans as Kindred after his Ravencroft visit some time ago (events from Amazing Spider-Man #31). Because of that Norman created plans to take advantage of what Harry was doing as Kindred.

Kindred freaks out saying that Norman hates all of them. Norman as Green Goblin says he does care about all of them because they are all his. Green Goblin then throws a pumpkin bomb right at MJ. The explosion causes MJ to be sent flying and the tomb starts to collapse everyone inside.

Green Goblin then tells Kindred that MJ was the perfect bate. This pisses Kindred off. Kindred and Green Goblin then start fighting. As they fight Green Goblin calls in Wilson Fisk.

When Wilson Fisk and his task force show up the Ghost-Spider, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Silk, and Madame Web are woken up by a mysterious dark energy.

Peter gets to MJ and is relieve when she reveals she is still alive. MJ tells Peter that things will be okay.

The dark energy suddenly grows and consumes everyone inside the tomb, including Kindred. End of issue.

The Good: Reading Amazing Spider-Man #55 was both a satisfying and frustrating experience. Being lucky enough to read both the main and tie-in Amazing Spider-Man ‘Last Remains’ issues it has been fun to see how everything Nick Spencer has been building. But just as that payoff is overall built well the problems I felt ‘Last Remains’ would have now turn out to be true as we come to the end.

As with the previous chapters of ‘Last Remains’ where Nick Spencer excelled in Amazing Spider-Man #55 is with driving home how emotional this story is. Every single line spoken by those attending Kindred’s Spider-Man Family dinner was heavy. Spencer was able to get across how much each character believed what they were saying was the true reality of their situation. That created even more tension around not really knowing what would happen when you turn to the next page.

Starting out with focusing on how Peter Parker has created a legacy as Spider-Man was a nice change of pace. Spencer brings back the Spider-Man Family in a way that helps intensify what Harry Osborn is driving at in his plot as Kindred. For Harry seeing others carry on wearing the Spider-Man symbol shines a bigger spotlight on all the things wrong with Peter. It is all part of the greater hubris that Harry believes that Peter has as Gwen Stacy, Miles Morales, Jessica Drew, Cindy Moon, Anya Corazon, and Julia Carpenter have just become extensions of Peter’s failures.

Amazing Spider-Man #55

Mary Jane Watson tries to talk to whatever is left of Harry Osborn inside Kindred in Amazing Spider-Man #55. Click for full page view.

Having Gwen be the only one of the Order of the Web members to talk in Amazing Spider-Man #55 was meaningful as she is the one that is most connected to Peter and Harry while still being separate. This version of Gwen Stacy being from another universe allowed her to call Harry out on his crap without holding back because of their friendship. But this still being a version of Gwen her words did have greater meaning because as a Spider-Man fan we know what the greater connection of Peter, Gwen, MJ, and Harry is.

This made the addition of MJ to the dinner even more impactful. Because by involving MJ we saw that this was the final line for Peter that Harry crossed as Kindred. Even when MJ was able to calm him down we saw how Peter’s attitude changed from trying to help Harry to now being fully motivated to taking him down. That attitude was furthered with how Peter does not hold back in calling Harry out for being a spoiled rich kid that never was able to control himself when things didn’t go his way. That was possibly the most honest thing that Peter has ever said to Harry in their long friendship. Spencer did a very good job in making you feel how these are words Peter has been holding back on saying.

The same goes for all the rants we see Harry go on throughout Amazing Spider-Man #55. Even when Harry is confident everything is going on as he planned we see how he can’t hold himself back from lashing out. When Harry doesn’t hear what he wants to hear we see the guy Peter is talking about, even when Harry is in full Kindred mode. At the same time, Spencer was able to mix in a lot of truths about the way Peter goes about making decisions that impact others with what Harry talks about. Having that balance made the entire back and forth that Peter and Harry shared hit hard without punches being thrown.

Focusing the first half on Peter and Harry continuing their verbal battle made the inclusion of Mary Jane Watson turn into an even greater wild card. With MJ there we saw how more of the whole drama around the One More Day and Brand New Day reboot are brought back into play. Even if we don’t know what Spencer is bringing back into continuity the simple fact that both Harry and MJ reference those events is powerful. Those events bring a strong reaction from just being referenced.

This made the way MJ was able to turn the tables on Harry that much more interesting. MJ was able to take the current story that has been all about Peter Parker and Harry Osborn’s relationship and emphasize how she has just as important part in all this. All the way from the start of their friendship during their college days with Gwen, every event that has happened between Peter, MJ, and Harry has all led us to this point. Bringing the events of Spectacular Spider-Man #200 once again is an example of that as MJ forces Harry’s hand by using an important conversation they had in the past. MJ used her strong understanding of both Harry and Peter to open the former’s eyes to something they have been holding back from doing.

With all that build up the appearance of Norman Osborn as Green Goblin was both a good and bad last minute twist. As he did with Amazing Spider-Man #31, Spencer did a very good job quickly emphasizing what kind of father-son relationship Norman and Harry have. Its in these types of scenes where we see what makes a villain that you naturally hate whenever he appears. Which made the shift to a final battle between Harry as Kindred and Norman as the Green Goblin something you want to see go down.

Patrick Gleason deserves a lot of credit for how effective Spencer’s writing is throughout Amazing Spider-Man #55. While this issue is very dialogue heavy Gleason is able to maintain a big event feel to everything going on through his art. There was an intensity given to the dialogue with how Gleason draws the way Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, and Gwen Stacy react to what one of them says. This made the moments we do get of action be even more impactful as we are left wondering if that is the start of the final battle in ‘Last Remains.’ All of this added to how there is still a horror vibe to the story whenever Harry Osborn is in full Kindred mode.

The Bad: As I mentioned in past reviews of ‘Last Remains,’ one of the things I was most worried about is how reliant Nick Spencer has been on the Amazing Spider-Man .LR issues to tell a bulk of the story for this event. Amazing Spider-Man #55 shined a giant spotlight in why this decision was not the best. The very beginning of this issue is not where we last left off in Amazing Spider-Man #54. Instead, Amazing Spider-Man #55 is a direction continuation of the tie-in issue of Amazing Spider-Man #54.LR. If you did not read that comic book, or the other Amazing Spider-Man .LR issues, you would have no idea how The Order of the Web, Mary Jane Watson, Norman Osborn, and Wilson Fisk suddenly appear throughout this issue.

Amazing Spider-Man #55

Norman Osborn as Green Goblin reveals he knew all about Kindred’s plans in Amazing Spider-Man #55. Click for full page view.

That is a particular big particularly big problem with the big roles that MJ, Norman Osborn, and Wilson Fisk end up serving in the second half of Amazing Spider-Man #55. Without those characters we would not get the ending that we get here. But since there stories were never developed within the main story of ‘Last Remains’ Spencer failed to give a good reason until the very last minute why they are important. He so relied on the crutch of having tie-in issues to expand on his story that he forgot to at least provide some hints at how important other character not named Peter Parker and Harry Osborn would be to ‘Last Remains.’

In the process Spencer makes all of these characters come across as deus ex machinas. Even as someone who has read all of the Amazing Spider-Man .LR tie-in issues there is an aura of convenience around MJ, Norman, and Fisk’s involvement. To many elements about there appearances in Amazing Spider-Man #55 come across as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card that Peter is using because of the way Spencer trapped our hero in a tight corner.

Part of me can at least excuse MJ’s involvement in Amazing Spider-Man #55 because of how much time she gets to develop her part in ‘Last Remains.’ The same cannot be said for the Norman and Fisk partnership. This entire plot element just comes across as random since we never got any sort of build up to what should be an important and dangerous partnership. It is just a reminder of how Spencer has not done a good job developing Norman’s arc in Amazing Spider-Man. The character goes from being locked up as a patient at an asylum to running Ravencroft to partnering with the Mayor of New York City all in an instant. This is extremely poor development of this important of a character that does end up hurting the overall plot of ‘Last Remains’ impact.

Spencer also does not explain why everyone but Gwen Stacy are unconscious for most of this issue. Even Gwen just says her dialogue and suddenly shuts down until Kindred attacks everyone later on. There is no explanation given that Kindred was using his powers on the Spider-Man Family. They were just quiet even as their lives were on the line. It all comes across as a waste of all these important characters as they are treated as nothing more than paper weights in Amazing Spider-Man #55.

Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #55 is a frustrating continuation of the ‘Last Remains’ story arc. From one end, it was fascinating to see how things played out between Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, and Mary Jane Watson. Nick Spencer is clearly not only using ‘Last Remains’ as a payoff to the last two years of his Amazing Spider-Man run but also to bring greater importance to all of Spider-Man’s history. Unfortunately, the big problem that Spencer runs into with Amazing Spider-Man #55 is how many key plot developments come across as deus ex machinas to lead into the conclusion of ‘Last Remains.’ Hopefully Spencer is able to overcome these major problems with the conclusion of his big Spider-Man event.

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