Amazing Spider-Man #74

Amazing Spider-Man #74 Review

The time is here. The end of Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run and the Kindred Saga that has dominated it is finally here. The road to get to this ending has been a long one but we were able to get to this point that never felt like it was close to being reached. But now we know that Kindred is actually the fake twins Sarah and Gabriel Stacy twins that the evil Harry Osborn created before his original death. In the process we learned that everything about the whole Sins Past story was faked so that Harry could torture Peter Parker and Norman Osborn from beyond the grave. With this revelation being made how will Nick Spencer end his Amazing Spider-Man run? Let’s find out Amazing Spider-Man #74.

Writers: Nick Spencer and Christos Gage (What Cost Victory?); Christos Gage (In Memory); Sean Ryan (The Complete History Of Spider-Man); Zeb Wells (Janine)

Artists: Marcelo Ferreira, Mark Bagley, Ze Carlos, Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, Ivan Fioelli, and Humberto Ramos (What Cost Victory?); Todd Nauck (In Memory); Gustavo Duarte (The Complete History Of Spider-Man); Ivan Fiorellli (Janine)

Inkers: Wayne Faucher, Marcelo Ferreira, Andrew Hennessy, Andy Owens, Ze Carlos, Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, Ivan Fiorelli, and Victor Olazaba (What Cost Victory?)

Colorists: Andrew Crossely, Edgar Delgado, and Alex Sinclair (What Cost Victory?); Racelle Rosenberg (In Memory); Dee Cunniffe (Janine)

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: After passing away (Spectacular Spider-Man #200), Harry Osborn is confused waking up back in his living room. When Harry opens the door to the kitchen to get water he is surprised to find out he is actually in Hell when he is greeted by Mephisto.

Harry is confused believing he died a hero but Mephisto reminds Harry that his schemes involving creating Life Model Decoys of Peter’s parents and the Gabriel and Sarah Stacy clones is still active and Harry never informed Peter of this before dying.

Harry asks Mephisto why his whole life he felt cursed. Mephisto says that Harry was nothing more than a pawn in a game filled with players with everyone eventually ending up in the same space.

In the present, Mary Jane uses one of Kindred’s mirrors to get to Peter Parker’s location at the Osborn Estate in Paris. MJ kisses Peter to confirm she is real.

Norman Osborn runs upstairs to find Peter, who puts his Spider-Man mask back on, and MJ to tell them that Kindred twins (the latest version of Gabriel and Sarah Stacy clones the evil Harry AI created). The warning comes too late as the Kindred Twins attack Spider-Man, MJ, and Norman.

Over at Hotel Inferno Mephisto tells Doctor Strange they can continue their gambling with a game of Spider-Man vs Kindred that has the stipulation of if Spider-Man loses Mephisto gets Doctor Strange’s soul. Doctor Strange accepts the terms to the latest game.

Amazing Spider-Man #74
Mephisto forces Harry Osborn to realize the truth of why he ended up in Hell in Amazing Spider-Man #74. Click for full page view.

Over at a morgue, after seeing the corpse of Harry Osborn (the one who died in Spectacular Spider-Man #200) the Brand New Day Harry realizes and tells Carlie Cooper that he is a clone.

Back at the Osborn Estate Spider-Man takes on the Kindred Twins alone and is quickly overwhelmed.

Back at the morgue, Harry yells out that he is ready. Harry and Carlie are suddenly teleported back to Harry and Liz Allen’s home in New York City. After checking that Liz, Normie, and Stanley are okay Harry goes to his secret with Carlie. There he gets all his Green Goblin gear and takes off using a Goblin Glider to face Kindred as Harry Osborn.

Back in Paris while the Kindred Twins knock Spider-Man all over the Osborn Estate, Norman holds MJ back because they can’t do anything.

Just as the Kindred Twins are about to kill Spider-Man Harry shows up and blows them away with a pumpkin bomb. Harry helps Spider-Man back up and they fight the Kindred Twins together as a team.

Hiding nearby, Norman admits that he was the one who condemned the Harry to Hell by selling his son’s soul to Mephisto. As MJ jaw drops in shock over this revelation Norman believes they are all going to burn together.

Back at Hotel Inferno, Mephisto says that if he loses to Doctor Strange he will free Harry Osborn’s soul. He then officially begins their game.

Back at the Osborn Estate in Paris, as one of the Kindred Twins is knocking Harry around the room they are in Harry admits to Peter that Gabriel and Sarah Stacy are clones created by AI the real Harry Osborn created before the events of his death. The Kindred Twins don’t take kindly to Harry calling them fakes and one of them starts chocking Harry out.

Norman comes out of hiding and tells the Kindred Twins that all of this is his fault. The Kindred Twins don’t believe Norman’s act. Norman then reveals that Gabriel and Sarah are indeed clones but it wasn’t Harry who created them on his own but in reality it was Harry while under the influence of Mephisto.

The Kindred Twins call Norman a liar and attack him. Spider-Man and Harry jump in to save Norman. The Kindred Twins start attacking recklessly. One of the Kindred Twins attempts a killing blow on Norman. Harry gets in the way and the Kindred centipede ends up going through his chest instead.

Spider-Man catches Harry and checks on him. Harry tells Peter that this is how it is supposed to be and passes away in Spider-Man’s arms.

An angered Spider-Man takes on the Kindred Twins alone.

Back at Hotel Inferno, Mephisto smiles in excitement over how Peter is filled with anger and vengeance after Harry’s passing. Doctor Strange calls out the fact that Mephisto is cheating by using two Kindreds for the fight. Mephisto reveals that he has just been playing their game longer as every time the Gabriel and Sarah Stacy clones died they would be reborn after spending time suffering in Hell. Mephisto says because of this the Kindred Twins have been completely overcome with the need to get revenge on Peter Parker.

Back at the Osborn Estate, Spider-Man is able to get the upper hand in his fight against the Kindred Twins. Just as it looks like he has knocked both Kindred Twins out Spider-Man is able to relax. This causes him to lose the adrenaline he was using to power through all the injuries he was suffering from. This provides the Kindred Twins to once again overwhelm Spider-Man. They then decide to bring part of the building on Spider-Man.

Buried under the rubble Spider-Man hears Mephisto calling out to him trying to manipulate Peter’s feeling of being a failure to those around him.

Back at Hotel Inferno, Doctor Strange gets Mephisto’s attention that just as Mephisto had two champions fighting he also had two champions, and one of them wasn’t Harry Osborn.

Amazing Spider-Man #74
The power of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson bond defeats Mephisto’s Kindred Twins in Amazing Spider-Man #74. Click for full page view.

Back at the Osborn Estate, MJ digs through the rubble and is able to help Spider-Man out of the rubble.

As Spider-Man gets ready to continue the fight the Kindred Twins admit defeat as they reveal they have already failed Mephisto and are no longer of use to him. The Kindred Twins collapse in front of Spider-Man. Kindred Sarah asks Peter if they ever had a mother. Peter says while they didn’t if they needed her motherly love Gwen would’ve been there for both twins. The Kindred twins then pass away.

Nearby Norman is in complete shock that Harry is dead. He holds Harry and says that Harry was the son he always wanted.

Seeing this Peter is in a state of shock. MJ and Peter then hug.

Back at Hotel Inferno, Doctor Strange officially wins the game with Mephisto. Doctor Strange asks Mephisto about why he was so fascinated by Peter Parker. Mephisto says that when he chooses to intervene with mortal souls he knows everything from their past, hopes, fears, and destinies. Mephisto goes on to reveal he has already seen his future, which involves making Earth a living Hell with all the heroes defeated. Mephisto says each time he sees this future there is one person who always ends up defeating him, who we see as being Peter Parker’s Spider-Man.

Doctor Strange calls out the fact that Mephisto is lying because he hasn’t always just gone after Peter Parker. Mephisto smiles and says that they can never know what the future holds.

It is then shown that in a version where Mephisto takes over the Earth even further into the future he is defeated by Mayday Parker’s Spider-Woman.

Back on Earth, Peter and MJ fly back home and immediately go to sleep.

The next day Peter as Spider-Man wakes MJ up. Spider-Man takes MJ out swinging.

As they do this Doctor Strange tells Mephisto that Peter and MJ are people who endure and grow stronger together because their love is unbreakable.

Peter and MJ eventually end up at the highest point in New York City and kiss. End of main story.

The Good: For better or worse Amazing Spider-Man #74 delivers a definitive conclusion to Nick Spencer’s run-on Spider-Man. Of all the issues in the Sinister War event this was by far the most dense in terms of story and character development we have gotten from this story. Which is extremely telling given the fact that there was seven issues of build up to get to this particular conclusion.

When Nick Spencer and Christos Gage, who co-wrote this final issue with Spencer, were at their best with Amazing Spider-Man it was focusing on how Mephisto manipulated everything. Even before Norman Osborn revealed to everyone that the AI that Harry Osborn created was while Mephisto was manipulating everything, you knew something greater was going. Spencer and Gage did a good job at making Mephisto be his ever present character who you knew was doing more than just playing a game with Doctor Strange.

At the same time, Mephisto did not supersede everything that was going on. The focus was still very much on how Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and Harry Osborn would make it out of all this. Its with how Peter, MJ, and Harry were portrayed throughout Amazing Spider-Man #74 that Spencer and Gage were able to carry out the heart of this story. Because at the end of the day this was a story about these three’s bond with one another, specifically Peter and MJ and Peter and Harry. Having these relationships carry the story effectively got across what was at stake.

With Peter and MJ we once again see how MJ really is Peter’s lightning rod. Even though she was scared about what was going on MJ was constantly there for Peter when he was about to give up. She provided that spark for Peter to keep going rather than just letting the Kindred Twins kill him. This further showed how important their relationship is and why Mephisto would want to break them up with the One More Day deal.

Speaking of One More Day, I have to commend Spencer and Gage actually turning the events of One More Day deal into something that becomes clearer for why it happened within the context of the Marvel Universe. No amount of retroactive storytelling will ever make One More Day a good story. But what Spencer and Gage were able to do is actually provide an explanation for why Mephisto would go out of his way to make a deal with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Because while he did see how Peter as Spider-Man would always be the one that stopped his plans in the future, giving him greater chances by not letting Peter’s legacy his and MJ’s daughter Mayday Parker. This explains why MJ had to be the one Mephisto ultimately wanted to be part of the deal was with the hopes that Peter and MJ’s bond would break.

Amazing Spider-Man #74
Spider-Man teams up with Harry Osborn for the final fight against the Kindred Twins in Amazing Spider-Man #74. Click for full page view.

All of this made the fact that we do see Peter and MJ’s unbreakable bond be what overcomes all of Mephisto’s manipulative tactics and defeat the Kindred Twins even more satisfying. It gets to the heart of what makes Spider-Man great is the bonds he has with his supporting cast and there is no great person in his life than MJ.

Similarly, Spencer and Gage were able figure out a way to work in the changes made by Brand New Day and Sins Past with Harry Osborn and Sarah and Gabriel Stacy all make some better sense. It wasn’t perfect but going with the clone angle all lines up with the plotting we’ve seen both Harry and Norman Osborn employ to torment Peter in the past. The fact that Brand New Day Harry was a clone the Osborn AI created explains a lot of the character’s actions since returning. That includes how the Brand New Day Harry did lean more towards heroic actions, as we see him go with in Amazing Spider-Man #74.

Going with this direction allowed Harry’s death to have real impact rather than just going out thinking a clone died. This was the version of Harry that was really Peter’s best friend without being influenced by the Goblin formula or Mephisto. Which in turn made the Spider-Man/Harry Osborn team-up come across as rewarding. As did Harry’s ultimate sacrifice once again giving him a heroic sacrifice that you believe would impact both Peter and Norman even knowing he was a clone.

The developments with the Kindred Twins was also well done for as convoluted as their entire arc has been. The revelation that Sarah and Gabriel Stacy were never actually being the kids of Norman and Gwen but clones created by the Osborn AI to further torment Peter and Norman certainly made them actual compelling characters. The repeated deaths and Hellish torment that Mephisto put them through made it understandable that in their final return as the Kindred Twins they would be driven by their hate of Spider-Man and Norman Osborn. It also explains why they enjoyed tormenting Spider-Man so much in previous story arcs as they wanted him to experience the Hell that is death and resurrection they went through.

When it comes to the artwork at this point I’ve gotten used to the end of Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man being one that features an art-by-committee. To the credit of Marcelo Ferreira, Mark Bagley, Ze Carlos, Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, Ivan Fioelli, and Humberto Ramos they all worked as well as they could together. This is a big line-up of artists to work together to tell one story for a single comic book. But they made it work because they are all talented artist who made adjustments to their art styles so a consistent tone was struck in the artwork. Hitting that tone made it so even though they have their own art styles they never clashed with each other.

The “In Memory” back-up chapter in Amazing Spider-Man #74 by Gage and Todd Nauck was a good epilogue that circles back to Uncle Ben. With everything that went on Peter visiting his Uncle Ben’s grave was something he would understandably do. Learning more about Uncle Ben through someone who knew him was a nice touch to give Peter another perspective of the kind of person his uncle was.

Sean Ryan and Gustavo Duarte “The History of Spider-Man” was a well-done retelling of Spider-Man’s origin in a two page spread. They had a lot of fun telling the story in a way that was able to show the legacy Peter Parker has created as Spider-Man while poking fun at some of that convoluted nature of it. Duarte’s art style in particular put over how this was just a fun recap of Spider-Man’s history.

The Bad: There was no going around the fact that Amazing Spider-Man #74 is made for the ultimate hardcore Spider-Man fans who know most of the history of the characters involved. That makes this ending something that will hit differently depending on how much of that history you know. And for fans not having that connection of reading all these Spider-Man stories that Spencer references it will not connect as well.

The bigger problem that is ran into with Amazing Spider-Man #74 is how this issue does read as Spencer doing a lot of catch-up when it comes to the storytelling of his final story arc. This issue is packed with developments to the point that you can see how Spencer really did stall for the majority of this 8-part endgame storyline. There was no reason for so many developments to happen in the final issue when many moments could’ve been spread across the previous 7 parts of the Sinister War event. By going with this route Amazing Spider-Man #74 doesn’t come end up being a reward to readers who have been reading Spencer’s run from the beginning. Instead it is just a catch-up so that Spencer could make sure the Kindred Saga was wrapped up by the end of this issue.

This issue also does nothing to make the Osborn Family anymore intriguing by the end. If anything you just realize how convoluted the continued involvement of Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn make Spider-Man’s history. When Amazing Spider-Man #74 ends I am left hoping this is the last we ever read of these characters. Because they have really been used a deus ex machina to explain away all bad aspects of Spider-Man’s history from the Clone Saga to Sins Past. Which leads to the final fate of this Harry Osborn clone to not hit on the emotional level Spencer was going for given how much time he and Gage spend on showing Peter and Norman’s reaction to Harry’s latest death.

Norman Osborn’s arc in particular just does absolutely nothing to make the character more intriguing. It can be argued that we aren’t supposed to ever be behind Norman’s character and that wasn’t the intention by Spencer. But the fact is Spencer has spent a large portion of his final Amazing Spider-Man story arcs trying to get us to believe in this newly reborn Norman that suddenly cares about his family. That is just not something that no amount of storytelling Spencer is able to sell us on for why we should feel for Norman’s character at the end. The entire arc with Norman just further highlights how the franchise really is better without the character around.

Amazing Spider-Man #74
Ben Reilly reunites with Elizabeth Tyne at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #74. Click for full page view.

It’s also disappointing with how much Spencer we don’t get much of an epilogue to show the full weight of the events that just occurred. Specifically, after seeing how Harry and Carlie check on Liz and the kids in this issue there should’ve been more a resolution with this part of the story. Peter and MJ going to Liz and telling them about what happened to Harry, even if we don’t get all the dialogue, would wrapped things up much more nicely. It would’ve further highlighted how much Spencer tried to connect all of Spider-Man’s history with his entire supporting cast. But that moment is just never given to an important character like Liz Allen.

The ball is also dropped with Carlie Cooper’s character in this storyline. For how much time was given about Kindred kidnapping her and Carlie discovering the truth about Harry Osborn she is completely forgotten in the end. She was nothing more than a vehicle for Spencer to have a regular person react to the crazy discovery Brand New Day Harry makes. There is nothing more to her part in this entire story than that.

The Spider-Man Beyond story that concluded Amazing Spider-Man #74 did not do its job of building hype for the upcoming direction for the franchise. Bringing back Elizabeth Tyne’s character just created even more worries for me about how convoluted the entire direction will be from the start. Which just comes back to how Ben Reilly is a character that brings in so many complications back to the franchise. It also highlighted how Spider-Man Beyond is not looking like it will be able to bring in new readers into the franchise as a knowledge about Ben Reilly and the entire 90s Clone Saga history is needed to understand what is going on.

Overall: When all was said and done Amazing Spider-Man #74 accomplishes its job of wrapping up Nick Spencer’s Kindred Saga that dominated his run on this series. To get to this ending Spencer and co-writer Christos Gage highlighted how convoluted this entire saga has been with the Osborn Family at the center of it. The convoluted nature of the Kindred Saga could’ve been wrapped up in a more satisfying fashion if it did not feel like we took the longest, most unnecessary road possible to get to this ending. But now that it is over we can just look towards a new future for the Spider-Man franchise.

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