Amazing Spider-Man’s new Beyond era has started well enough. Zeb Wells and Patrick Gleason got the ball rolling by officially taking Peter Parker off the table with some form of radiation poisoning. In Peter’s absence Ben Reilly is staking his claim to being Spider-Man with the backing of the Beyond Corporation. Now that Ben is the Spider-Man leading Amazing Spider-Man will he be able to step up to show that this move should be permanent? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #77.
Beyond Board: Cody Ziglar, Saldin Ahmed, Zeb Wells, Patrick Gleason, and Kelly Thompson
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the Beyond Corporation training room Misty Knight and Colleen Wing train Ben Reilly to maximize his powers and abilities.
From the control room Maxine Danger (Head of Super Hero Development for the Beyond Corporation) tells Marcus Momplaisir that she has seen enough and to end the training session.
Once the training session is ended Maxine tells Ben that she wants to talk with him alone. Colleen Wing and Misty Knight tell Ben to be ready for tomorrow as the training will be even more intense.
Ben follows Maxine and asks why he is missing his appointment with Dr. Kafka. Maxine reminds Ben that the Beyond Corporation invested a lot of money into developing Ben as a superhero. Ben says he understands but messes up by not saying he is taking it seriously.
Maxine then reminds Ben they can’t afford Ben going off the grid as he has already done twice. Ben tries to defend himself but Maxine quickly calls him out and says they can end their partnership there and then if need be. Maxine goes on to say if Ben wants to just go back to being the scraggly-bearded-sad-not-quite-got-it-together Spider-Man that only appears to ask for favors. Ben says “I am Spider-Man” which makes Maxine happy to hear.
Ben then goes to his therapy session with Dr. Kafka. Dr. Kafka gets into Ben’s previous talk about Uncle Ben. Ben talks about his memories with Uncle Ben and Aunt May but can’t exactly remember what his uncle told him at the time. Dr. Kafka says that it is natural as Ben is taking on a lot of responsibilities that is straining his brain which is why she requested the Beyond Corporation give him the night off to relax.
Over at the McCarthy Medical Center, Peter Parker’s is now in a coma with Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May by his bed side. Aunt May asks MJ if she could talk with any of her contacts like Tony Stark to help. MJ says she already tried to get Tony and Dr. Strange’s help but couldn’t get a hold of them (Tony Stark is currently busy dealing with a crisis involving Korvac and Stephen Strange is in the middle of Death of Doctor Strange).
Aunt May stands up and says that she is going to call her own contacts. MJ wonders who this is but Aunt May says not to worry and steps out of the room.
As MJ sits next to Peter’s bed Black Cat is seen right outside Peter’s hospital window spying on them.
Over at Ben and Janine Godbe’s apartment, Ben and Janine spend the night together. As they talk Ben wonders what has Janine so off. Janine says that she feels that she is still in cage with all the security the Beyond Corporation has watching them. Ben states that the Beyond Corporation offers them the best protection.
Ben suddenly gets an alert on his communicator for a new mission. Ben asks Janine if they can finish their date later. Janine says that is fine and tells him to be careful.
Ben puts on his Spider-Man mask and heads through the Beyond Corporation’s teleporter to his next mission.
Somewhere in Midtown, Spider-Man finds Morbius the Living Vampire stalking for people. Spider-Man quickly dropkicks Morbius and webs him up.
Spider-Man uses this opening to check on the people that Morbius fed on. As he does this Morbius breaks free from the webs and grabs Spider-Man from behind. Morbius overpowers Spider-Man and bites his neck while asking Spider-Man to forgive him. End of issue.
The Good: Of the three issues we’ve gotten so far in the Spider-Man Beyond era thus far Amazing Spider-Man #77 best puts over where Ben Reilly is as a character. Even though the previous two issues showed that the Beyond Corporation has helped him become the Spider-Man he wants that is not exactly true. There is a lot going on within Ben that can tap into what makes him an intriguing character.
All that it took for Ben to fully embrace being the series lead for Amazing Spider-Man is for Peter to be in a coma. That may sound dark but at least for the time being there is an explanation within the context of the story of Spider-Man Beyond why Peter will be MIA. Kelly Thompson does a good job with using how Zeb Wells and Patrick Gleason set this part of the story with Peter up. There is enough here with how Aunt May is making her own contacts, which one of them may be Doctor Otto Octavius, that will keep Peter’s current status on the top of the readers mind. The addition of Black Cat spying on all this adds to how Peter’s status quo is something that the Beyond Board will deal with sooner rather than later.
That said, with Amazing Spider-Man #77 it is now Ben Reilly’s show. In the previous two issues of Spider-Man Beyond Ben tried to come across as the cool Spider-Man. That did not work whatsoever from the moment he made his presence known. In many ways it made you question why Ben is taking over the main Spider-Man series in the franchise over Peter Parker and Miles Morales.
Luckily Thompson starts digging into more of the layers that make up the current Ben Reilly. She does this by continuing the Ben we saw approach Peter in an honest manner before Peter went into his coma. The interaction Ben has with Maxine Danger in particular digs into how Ben is not completely ready to be the Spider-Man superhero he or the Beyond Corporation believe he is. Even with him showing confidence during the training with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing there are things in the dialogue and art that shows he is still learning to be Spider-Man again.
The leaders of the Beyond Corporation being aware of this makes their involvement in helping Ben progress to that point more valid. They aren’t just some mysterious corporation with ulterior motives we are always looking to be revealed. Instead, Thompson frames Ben’s role as the Beyond Corporation’s Spider-Man as something that the character needs to recover from all his experiences during the 90s Clone Saga and Clone Conspiracy.
At the same time, Thompson does a lot of good world building along with artist Sara Pichelli for the Beyond Corporation. There is enough with the way Marcus Momplaisir and Maxine act throughout their appearances in this issue that you are still questioning what the Beyond Corporation’s true endgame with Ben as their Spider-Man is. That is enhanced by how Pichelli draws the development lab of the Beyond Corporation having multiple experiments going on in the background while Ben and Maxine talk. Little touches like this add to how the Beyond Corporation is being developed without going into all the details through a long monologue sequence by Maxine or Marcus.
Adding in Dr. Kafka as Ben’s therapist is a nice touch to how the character is being developed. As mentioned before, Ben is still not in the best spot even as he is embracing being Spider-Man again. Having gone through the experiences he did in the Clone Saga and Clone Conspiracy he would obviously need someone there that can help him address his mental health. Dr. Kafka calming presence as Ben’s therapist was showcased well as she gives him the real talk he needs about how Ben is taking on more than he can handle just to make up for what he has done in the past.
This nicely transitions into the importance of Ben having Janine Gobde back into his life. Like Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, and other friends Peter has in his life, Ben needs a supporting character that is not directly tied to his day-to-day as Spider-Man. Janine is that person for him as she does relate with her own troubled past. Exploring the connection between Ben and Janine is something that could be key in getting over Ben’s character in and out of being Spider-Man.
As mentioned earlier, Pichelli’s artwork was key in the storytelling of Amazing Spider-Man #77. There are a lot of little and big things that is done through the artwork that helps the Beyond Corporation that Ben is now a part of. That includes the opening training sequence Ben as Spider-Man has with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. Pichelli draws this double page spread to give a sense of motion to the action so it does feel like we have one big extended action sequence take place within two pages.
I also appreciate the fact that Pichelli makes an effort do draw Ben and Peter differently. Normally the only difference between the characters is that Ben has blonde hair and Peter has brown hair. In Amazing Spider-Man #77 Pichelli does draw Ben differently to get across how he has been through things that maybe aged him a bit more because of mental stress he only opens up to Dr. Kafka about.
The Bad: Amazing Spider-Man #77 opening is very jarring considering the previous issue written by Zeb Wells ended in a cliffhanger with Ben’s Spider-Man taking on the U-Foes. The way the final page was delivered it seemed like we were going to continue that story. But when you open Amazing Spider-Man #77 we are already onto a new story. Its not even addressed that Ben as Spider-Man took care of the U-Foes. Its just swept under the rug like that story never happened outside of Peter’s coma state.
The ending with Morbius for this issue also does not work as intended. The entire fight with Morbius felt like Thompson was trying to rush Ben into taking on a Spider-Man villain with a big cliffhanger. But instead it comes across as rushed and overly long at the same time. Morbius does not come across as a compelling villain at all in this ending. Even his final line apologizing to Spider-Man just felt off not due to it being a plot beat but because of how awkward it the entire ending came across. Hopefully the next issue can fix these problems to make Morbius a compelling next foe for Ben’s Spider-Man to take on.
The one scene with the artwork that did not look as high quality as the rest of Amazing Spider-Man #77 was the scene with MJ and Aunt May in Peter’s hospital room. In comparison to the rest of this issue the characters models looked like they were rushed and not of the same world. Which is where you do see the problems with the release schedule of Amazing Spider-Man in this Spider-Man Beyond era really impacting the series. Releasing these comics in a three times a month schedule will cause so rushed artwork to appear if not given proper time for artists to draw a comic. That is at least how the hospital scene looked.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #77 was a much better showing in developing Ben Reilly as a fully fleshed out character. Kelly Thompson and Sara Pichelli dig into what makes Ben’s character tick as he embraces being Spider-Man again. The world building done with the Beyond Corporation was very much needed and welcomed to put over this new direction for the Spider-Man franchise.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.