The Spider-Man Beyond direction is in the middle of its second story arc with Ben Reilly looking to establish himself now that Peter Parker is out of commission. Ben’s journey to be seen as the one and only Spider-Man is already facing complications as he is faced against an unexpected attack from Morbius the Living Vampire. That was shown with how Morbius was able to capture Ben and bit his neck at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #77. How much danger is Ben now in after being bitten by Morbius? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #78.
Beyond Board: Cody Ziglar, Saldin Ahmed, Zeb Wells, Patrick Gleason, and Kelly Thompson
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Sara Pichelli and Jim Towe
Colorist: Nolan Woodard and Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Thanks to his suits extra protection Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) is still able to stand after being bitten by Morbius. Not feeling okay Spider-Man decides to run away from Morbius and teleport back to Beyond Corporation. Morbius tries to follow through the portal but gets his arm cut off by the security system in his attempt.
At the Beyond Corporation Spider-Man collapses in Janine Gobde’s arms while the Beyond Corporation gathers Morbius arms.
The Beyond Corporation medical team work on healing Ben from his injuries. Maxine Danger questions Doctor Bailey what would happen if they don’t inoculate Ben against Morbius vampire virus. Doctor Bailey is unsure as every answer he can give is speculative. Maxine lets Doctor Bailey move forward with administering the antitoxin into Ben’s system. She then orders the B-Team to go after Morbius.
Over at McCarthy Medical Center, Black Cat breaks into Peter Parker’s hospital room when no one is around. As Black Cat talks to him Peter’s body responds for a brief moment. Mary Jane Watson sees this and rushes in but Peter falls back into a coma.
Black Cat apologizes for breaking in. MJ says she is not mad and is okay with Felicia being there but suggests she change clothes so she does not raise suspicion with the hospital staff.
Elsewhere, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing quickly defeat one-armed Morbius and capture him.
Monica Rambeau suddenly appears and immediately destroys the Beyond Corporation drones monitoring Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. Knowing that the Beyond Corporation will send more monitoring drones soon Monica asks Misty Knight and Colleen tell her what they’ve found out about the company so far.
Elsewhere, as Ben and Janine enjoy a night out they decide to walk through a park. As they bond during their walk Kraven the Hunter is shown watching their movements from the shadows. End of issue.
The Good: As Kelly Thompson wraps up the second story arc in the Beyond era for Amazing Spider-Man this direction is quickly establishing a strong tone. Even if not every story arc may be just two issues long it is smart to establish that we won’t see big six issue storylines. Given the number of creators that are part of the Beyond Board having shorter, focused stories take place allow for character and narrative developments to take place at a much quicker pace.
This is something that the story in Amazing Spider-Man #78 exemplifies. There never feels as though there is a point that Thompson is wasting time to stretch out this story involving Morbius. We quickly see Ben Reilly identify his injury and go get healed. Meanwhile, Maxine Danger makes sure the Beyond Corporation doesn’t get a bad name due to Ben’s failure to capture by sending Misty Knight and Colleen Wing after Morbius. This led to the ending of the Morbius story to lead us to have a major revelation for an important sub-plot that will be developed over the course of the Beyond era.
The revelation that Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are working with Monica Rambeau, and possibly other heroes, is a great explanation for why they would both sign up so quickly to work for the Beyond Corporation. This development further pushes the narrative that there is more than meets the eye with the Beyond Corporation. It also makes the roles Misty Knight and Colleen Wing serve in this series to be more than just supporting characters that are Ben’s trainers. Now they have a specific storyline that makes every action they take moving forward something to keep your eye on.
Establishing this sub-plot increases the interest into what the true intentions of the Beyond Corporation funding Ben Reilly’s rise to be Spider-Man. As we see with how Maxine Danger treats Ben’s current condition being treated by doctors there an unemotional connection to their action. Maxine is very much about finding out about every possibility in a situation. This is the same unemotional approach we’ve seen from Marcus Momplaisir when he spoke with Ben in past issues. It all further puts into question what the Beyond Corporation’s endgame is with Ben.
Speaking of Ben, the fight with Morbius was a good reminder of how he does lack the experience that Peter Parker has as Spider-Man. The way it all went down provided an example why the Beyond Corporation would recruit Misty Knight and Colleen Wing to be his trainers. It was also a humbling experience as his first big fight with a Spider-Man villain turned out to be a failure. Now with things looking to get even harder as Kraven the Hunter setting his sights on Ben.
The scene at the hospital was actually surprising with how Thompson actually went with more of an adult approach in bringing Felicia Hardy into the fold. There is an expectation because of how comics are that MJ would be pissed off seeing Black Cat talking to Peter while he is in a coma. The fact that MJ is fine with Felicia visiting and accepting that she can help bring Peter out of his coma was refreshing. It immediately creates a bond between MJ and Felicia while showing the former’s maturity with Peter’s current condition being something that needs that maturity.
The scene in Peter’s hospital room between MJ and Felicia also drove home the difference in the supporting cast Peter and Ben respectively have. While Peter has a supportive group of people like MJ, Felicia, and Aunt May looking out for his best interest, the people around Ben only see him as a business asset to analyze. Exploring the differences in supporting cast further highlights how Peter and Ben are truly different people.
The Bad: The Morbius story just ending speaks to how much of a throwaway villain he was. There was no big dive into what Morbius was doing when Spider-Man found him or the people he sucked blood from. The biggest development was Morbius getting his arm cut off. Morbius could’ve been replaced by any random villain and it would not have made a difference to this story that Thompson was crafting.
The artwork by Sara Pichelli and Jim Towe was not up to the quality expected from either artist. This speaks to one of the problems with the decision of turning Amazing Spider-Man into a comic book that releases at least three times a month is that it will cause a lot of rushing. Specifically, rushing when it comes to completing the artwork for each comic book just to stay on the schedule. I would not be surprised if this happens again in the Beyond era because it is difficult for any artist to keep up the type of schedule Marvel has demanded from Amazing Spider-Man.
Overall: While Morbius was treated as throwaway villain the story Kelly Thompson crafted around Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man and the Beyond Corporation kept interest in this new direction high. The developments in Amazing Spider-Man #78 reinforced the foundation that the Beyond era is looking to build on. Unfortunately the rushed artwork did impact the overall flow of the story, which is something that will likely be the norm given Amazing Spider-Man’s current release schedule.
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