With a new Spider-Man Beyond Brain Trust made up of Zeb Wells, Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saladin Ahmed, and Patrick Gleason, collectively known as the Beyond Board, a new era for Spider-Man has begun. As we saw with Amazing Spider-Man #75 this new era started with a statement of Ben Reilly returning as Spider-Man. Ben taking up the mantle was not something that he asks Peter Parker for permission, which immediately puts them at odds over who the true Spider-Man is. But now with Peter severely injured in a fight with the U-Foes there are even greater concerns for the franchise. How will things go next in the Spider-Man Beyond direction? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #76.
Beyond Board: Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saladin Ahmed, Patrick Gleason, and Zeb Wells
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Aunt May receives a call from Peter Parker to let her know he has been hurt and is at the emergency ward of McCarthy Medical Center.
At McCarthy Medical Center it is shown that Ben Reilly was the one who called Aunt May. The doctors question Ben about how Peter, who they call his brother, got such sever toxicosis and radiation poisoning.
Before they can fully talk Mary Jane Watson walks into the hospital and demands to know where Peter is. The doctors talk with MJ and mention Ben brought Peter to the hospital. Ben disappears before MJ spots him.
Peter suddenly starts convulsing as his Spider-Sense goes off in an intense rate while his healing factor is trying to fight off the radiation poisoning.
Over at Beyond Tower, Ben makes it back with Janine Godbe and Marcus Momplaisir waiting for him as he disappeared after the fight with the U-Foes. Ben says he had to help Peter and couldn’t do so as Spider-Man. Marcus says that while Ben rests they have to come up with a way to take on the U-Foes.
After Marcus leaves, Ben tells Janine that Peter is in bad shape.
Back at McCarthy Medical Center, Aunt May finally arrives and MJ tells her that about Peter’s condition, which has become stable for now. Peter weakly tells Aunt May that he suffered radiation poisoning when the U-Foes attacked Empire State University while he was there to meet with Doctor Connors. Aunt May says she wants to question Peter’s doctor to make sure her nephew gets the treatment he needs.
Back at Beyond Tower, Ben meets up with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, who provide Ben with equipment to deal with X-Ray, Vapor, Ironclad, and Vector the next time he fights the U-Foes. Colleen goes on to suggest to take care of Vapor and X-Ray first.
Colleen notices that he is distracted. Ben says that he feels weird going back to fight the U-Foes without Spider-Man. Marcus reminds Ben he is the only Spider-Man as far as the Beyond Corporation is concerned. Misty Knight and Colleen call out Marcus to show some respect.
Ben admits this isn’t right and needs an hour to sort things out. He then puts on his Spider-Man costume and swings away
Back at McCarthy Medical Center, Dr. Burdick that somehow Peter’s system is able to keep him stable for now but his body is working overtime to fight off the radiation poisoning. Dr. Burdick then leaves to set up a session with the radiologist for Peter.
When the doctor leaves Ben shows up much to MJ’s anger. Peter jokingly warns Ben to start talking before MJ kicks his ass since he is in no shape to stop her.
Ben says that he has come to realize he can’t be Spider-Man without Peter’s blessing. Peter wonders what happened to Ben’s previous statement of him saying he wasn’t asking permission to be Spider-Man. Ben admits he handled it all wrong and he is there to actually ask Peter for permission.
Peter talks about how it is always hard when Ben is around because it feels like he is being asked to share his life. Peter goes on to say that at the same time Ben deserves to do what makes him happy and he deserves to be Spider-Man. Ben thanks Peter for giving him his blessing. Peter tells Ben to go out there and be amazing.
After Ben walks out Peter asks MJ to confirm he is fully gone. MJ says Ben isn’t around anymore. Peter says that is good because he can’t feel his body. MJ immediately yells out for help from the doctors and nurses.
As the doctors rush in to help him Peter feels intense pain throughout his body as he is having a seizure. The pain becomes to great and Peter goes into a coma-like state.
Elsewhere, at the U-Foes hideout Vapor is attacked by numerous metal spheres that Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) has fired at her. Spider-Man then uses the other device Colleen Wing created for him to take out X-Ray. Vector is stunned to see Spider-Man. Ben states “Hell yes Spider-Man.” End of issue.
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #76 goes a long way to fix some of the complaints I had with the first issue of the Spider-Man Beyond direction. Not everything has been refined for this new direction for the franchise. But we are at least seeing positive strives forward after a solid foundation was created with Amazing Spider-Man #75.
The big improvement Amazing Spider-Man #76 makes is finally grounding Ben Reilly’s character. After spending so much time since he returned back during the Clone Conspiracy as an asshole Ben got a much-needed reality check. While the extreme of Peter Parker being in life-threatening danger isn’t the ideal wake up call we at least Ben realize that he was going about things all wrong. Identifying this turns Ben’s character into someone that is much more compelling than the one we saw walking around in the previous issue.
A good subtle move that Zeb Wells does to help grow Ben’s character is identifying how there is a brotherly bond between Ben and Peter. Even though their relationship has become strained over the last decade at the core of their relationship is viewing each other as brothers. We see that status quo for their relationship start to return with how both Ben and Peter interact with one another.
This made the fact that Ben realized that he does need Peter’s blessing to fully accept taking up the Spider-Man mantle a better moment. We see from both sides that Ben and Peter have their own baggage when it comes to how they see each other. Addressing the difficulties of the whole clone situation made it so Peter’s speech about Ben living his own life and being deserving of taking on the Spider-Man mantle a strong moment. This at least us a reason to accept Ben as Spider-Man, especially compared to how it was attempted in the previous issue.
With Ben going through this type of experience to fully accept being Spider-Man it puts him in an interesting spot moving forward with the Beyond Corporation. Because initially Ben was all about embracing being the Beyond Corporation Spider-Man. Now that may not fully be the case as Ben better understands the weight of being Spider-Man is more than him being given the job or costume. The moment with Janine Godbe, after first leaving Peter at the hospital, did an effective job showing this.
Ben being given Peter’s blessing to be Spider-Man also places more questions into the motivations of the Beyond Corporation. As we saw with how Marcus Momplaisir treated Ben’s reaction to what happened to Peter it is clear the Beyond Corporation is all about business. They don’t really care about the people. As we more people working for the Beyond Corporation are revealed it’ll be interesting if everyone at the company are like or worse than Marcus in terms of attitudes towards their goals of using Spider-Man.
Having Misty Knight and Colleen Wing as part of the supporting cast for Ben was a smart move. They provide a much needed balance to how the Beyond Corporation are treating having Spider-Man under their payroll. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are able to provide Ben with the needed superhero perspective to make him a much more well-rounded character.
On the Peter Parker side of things, the current radiation poisoning that his body is fighting certainly puts him in an interesting spot. Wells goes through a lot to show us how Peter’s healing factor and the rest of his powers are trying to fight off the radiation poisoning. The way it is all shown through Patrick Gleason’s artwork does put into question if we will possibly see Peter’s powers evolve. Because we know how much Marvel has leaned into the Spider-Totem part of the character since Spider-Verse. We could very well see that come into play.
With Peter’s life in danger it was great to see how Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May are being brought in to be active in making sure he is given the best care. Both MJ and Aunt May show how they are the rock in Peter’s life with how they respond to his situation. MJ in particular being ready to kick Ben out of Peter’s hospital room was a great scene because it reminds the reader that just because Ben is back as Spider-Man the past between them is something they all remember.
As previously mentioned, Patrick Gleason delivers a lot of great character and general storytelling through his artwork alone. The different reactions from Ben Reilly, Mary Jane Watson, and Aunt May gave weight to the dangerous state Peter Parker is in. Gleason’s artwork especially went a long way to help ground Ben’s character as he realizes that getting Peter’s blessing to be Spider-Man is something he needs. The brief amount of action we get at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #76 also works to build excitement for how the fight with the U-Foes will go in the next issue.
The Bad: A big missed opportunity by not only Amazing Spider-Man #76 but the previous issue is the therapy sessions Ben Reilly is said to be taking. We know from Marcus recruiting Dr. Kafka at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #75 that the Beyond Corporation is providing Ben with a therapist. Not actually showing these therapy sessions makes Ben’s mention of doing this not hit the way it does. The way Ben said it came across as him trying to force Peter, MJ, and the reader to feel sympathy for him. Actually showing how Dr. Kafka and others are helping Ben out through his mental struggles will go a long way in making this Spider-Man Beyond direction feel permanent rather than temporary.
Also, while it is great that Misty Knight and Colleen Wing have been brought in to be part of the cast for Amazing Spider-Man it is disappointing that they are just acting as Ben Reilly’s assistants. Both Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are highly underutilized characters that deserve much more than just an assistant status. They should be active superheroes who are also taking on the U-Foes. The Beyond Board definitely need to do better by both these great characters than the treatment Misty Knight and Colleen Wing got in Amazing Spider-Man #76.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #76 is mostly a step in the right direction where Zeb Wells, Patrick Gleason, and the Beyond Board are taking this series moving forward. Ben Reilly’s character is much improved over his appearance in the previous issue. The interaction Ben has with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in particular moves the character forward in a positive direction. It certainly feels like Ben’s time is now to take on the weight and responsibilities of being Spider-Man.
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