Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run has ben a rollercoaster ride thus far. There are a lot of things about the whole Kindred Saga that has made up most of Spencer’s run that I’ve enjoyed. But there have equally been parts of the current story going on in Amazing Spider-Man that I’m either mixed or not enjoying as much. It’s a very weird place to be and I’m hoping that now as we get into the part of this Kindred Saga were we know Harry Osborn is the villain who has been wrecking the lives of Peter Parker and those around him we get into more of the compelling part of Spencer’s narrative. Let’s see if that is the case with Amazing Spider-Man #59.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Marcelo Ferreira
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colorist: Morry Hollowell and Andrew Crossley
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside the FEAST Center Martin Li admits to Aunt May that he was a former trafficker who killed the real Martin Li in order to steal his identity. Aunt May tells Martin that whoever he really is that their concern right now is to get out safely.
At the same time, Spider-Man continues to fight the Inner Demons to buy Aunt May time to escape.
Elsewhere, Norman Osborn convinces Liz Allen and Normie Osborn to come with him to Ravencroft. There he reveals to Liz and Normie the truth about Harry Osborn being Kindred and is currently locked in a special containment unit. This breaks Liz’s heart, who collapses in tears, and causes Normie to run away.
Back at the FEAST Center one of the Inner Demons is able to find Aunt May and holds her captive. Martin makes a deal with the Inner Demons to turn himself over to them in exchange for Aunt May’s safety.
While Aunt May doesn’t want to allow Martin to sacrifice himself Martin says he wants to do something good for once to show he isn’t solely defined by his sins.
As soon as Martin steps outside the demonic manifestation of his sins go back inside him. Martin immediately turns back into Mr. Negative.
Mayor Wilson Fisk and an NYPD SWAT team suddenly show up and arrest Mr. Negative and the Inner Demons. Spider-Man confronts Mayor Fisk over what he has been doing but Fisk shuts Spider-Man up by bringing up how he could have the FEAST Center shutdown if he wanted.
Later Peter Parker checks up on Aunt May after what happened. Aunt May admits that she is starting to think she is responsible for all the destruction and violence going on around her. Peter assures Aunt May that is not the case as she doing real good with her selfless actions.
Back at Ravencroft, Norman finds Normie on the roof. There Norman is able to bond with Normie by talking about how Harry, Liz, and Norman just want what is best for him. He then promises to take Normie to Connie Island if Liz allows him as long as they can go back inside to check on Liz.
Nearby, Spider-Man is shown watching this entire conversation go down.
At the Mayor’s office, Fisk reminds Mr. Negative that he lived up to his end of their bargain. Mr. Negative agrees and gives Fisk the part of the Lifeline Tablet the Inner Demons had in their possession.
Fisk then says with his plans now being accelerated that he can provide Mr. Negative with the territory he wants in New York City but he will need to get him the other part of the Lifeline Tablet to get that privilege. Fisk then shows Mr. Negative the competition he’ll have to gain the power he wants by taking him to a room where The Owl, Hammerhead, Silvermane, Madame Masque, Tombstone, and Black Mariah are also taking that offer. End of issue.
The Good: Reading Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man has been unlike any other comic book run I’ve read. Just as there are things I’m finding myself get really invested in there are an equal amount of developments in which I find myself wanting to stop reading out of frustration. Amazing Spider-Man #59 is a great example of that conflict as the greater narrative Spencer is building is such a double edge sword.
On the positive, Spencer continues to work well in developing Wilson Fisk’s character as the Mayor of New York City is no longer hiding his Kingpin persona. This compliments the development that Wilson Fisk has been given over in Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil series. You can see with each appearance that both Spencer and Zdarsky are building Fisk to be an even bigger threat now that he is going all in with using his power as Mayor of NYC to become an even bigger Kingpin of Crime than before. There is an aura of danger whenever he is on screen in Amazing Spider-Man #59 that comes across as Fisk reaching an even higher level of power than he had before.
In recruiting the top crime bosses in the Marvel Universe to work to achieve his end goal with the Lifeline Tablet, Fisk is further positioning himself to go all in as Kingpin while still being Mayor of NYC. Seeing him gather The Owl, Hammerhead, Silvermane, Madame Masque, Mr. Negative, Tombstone, and Black Mariah shows he knows that he is playing chess with all these crime bosses. This also helps reposition each of these Marvel villains back into a place where they can all reclaim their former glory as top villains. The variety in who we see in this scene not only helps Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man and Zdarsky’s Daredevil but other Marvel books like Iron Man that are based in New York City.
On the Peter Parker front Spencer does a good job nailing the relationship he has with Aunt May. Spencer clearly understands how Peter and Aunt May are each other’s support system as they pick each other up. Even as Peter has it in the back of his mind why the events with Martin Li went down he wants to make sure Aunt May doesn’t blame herself by reassuring her she is a bright light in all this darkness. The same goes for Aunt May as she reminds Peter that they need to have hope that people can be good or else risk losing themselves to the darkness they are fighting.
Marcelo Ferreira provides solid artwork throughout Amazing Spider-Man #59. All of the action between Spider-Man and the Inner Demons works extremely well to show how no matter his injuries that Spider-Man will always continue fighting. The fighting spirit he shows in the face of an endless wave of Inner Demons put over how strong Spider-Man’s resolve is to defend everyone. Ferreira also delivers on making the reveal of all the crime bosses that Wilson Fisk have gathered to have the maximum impact to provide greater interest in what happens next with this storyline.
The Bad: For as much as Spencer tries to present Martin Li as a multi-layered character it all falls apart with the line “Let me show that we are not defined by our sins” right before the character becomes Mr. Negative again. For that to be the payoff for what Martin Li’s arc was just comes across as cheap and fake. At no point do you buy in that Martin Li is a changed man because the person we see talking with Aunt May is not the trafficker who stole the real Martin Li’s identity after killing him. This was a new character who just had a realization how horrible he is because his “evil” half was taken away. But as soon as Mr. Negative was back to his normal we got the real version of the character so nothing was actually learned.
Its all just status quo as normal as Spencer just used the whole situation with Kindred to attempt to bring Mr. Negative back in a compelling way. Unfortunately the ball was dropped as the supposed character development was non-existent. At no point before becoming Mr. Negative again do you buy into how guilty the guy feels. Its all a stalling tactic to get us to the point needed for the ending we get in Amazing Spider-Man #59. While the ending was impactful it does not make Mr. Negative more compelling because he was part of Wilson Fisk’s plans.
The problematic arc for Mr. Negative ends up also hurting whatever character arc that Spencer is trying to develop with the new Norman Osborn. Mr. Negative’s return is just a reminder that this whole nice guy Norman Osborn is likely an act since we know that he has a deal with Wilson Fisk. Maybe that is part of Spencer’s greater fake-out but you just never buy into whatever Norman tells Liz Allen and Normie Osborn. Turning a new leaf is nothing new with Norman’s character and it just furthers how uncreative this direction for the Kindred story is taking.
It is also odd how since Harry Osborn revealed himself as Kindred that we’ve seen Peter Parker has not shown any sort of development through this whole experience. Spencer continues to write Peter in and out his Spider-Man identity as someone who is just along for the ride. There is no sense of Peter actually taking ownership of what is going on and how to best deal with things. The most we have gotten is seen Peter as Spider-Man have his outburst. Given that Harry blames Peter for what he is doing as Kindred there is no reason we don’t see how Peter actually tries to figure out what is going on. Spencer needs to have Peter start to have more ownership of the story rather than continue to play an audience member, as has been the case since Harry showed up as Kindred.
Overall: With Amazing Spider-Man #59 Nick Spencer shows that his own writing is his own worst enemy. While there are certainly compelling developments in the Kindred and Wilson Fisk storylines, when it comes to the stories of Mr. Negative and Norman Osborn that dominate this issue Spencer’s storytelling just falls flat. It does not help that even after everything he has been put through Peter Parker comes across as standing still through this entire saga. That is hopefully a thing that is improved on fast.
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