The previous issue of Amazing Spider-Man ended with what appears to be Ben Reilly completely shattered mentally. Ben’s mind being broken provides a lot of questions to what exactly the true motives of the Beyond Corporation is by making their own Spider-Man. Though it looks like Ben’s story may be taking a backseat as the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #87 shows that Captain America and Black Cat will be helping Peter Parker become Spider-Man again. What roles will Captain America and Black Cat will serve for Peter’s recovery after his near-death experience? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #87.
Beyond Board: Kelly Thompson, Cody Ziglar, Saldin Ahmed, Patrick Gleason, Zeb Wells
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Felicia Hardy recruits Steve Rogers to help retrain Peter Parker before going back to being Spider-Man. Peter tries to argue against it but Felicia and Steve bring up how dangerous it is for Peter to just go back to being Spider-Man is completely reckless.
Peter eventually agrees. Peter then spends the next four days readapting to swinging through the city by chasing Black Cat while wearing a variation of the Amazing Bag-Man costume. On the fifth day Black Cat leads her crew on a heist with the challenge of Peter and Captain America capturing them.
Then on the sixth day Steve trains Peter to regain his fighting ability back to his prior speed and strength.
Over at the Beyond Corporation helps Ben Reilly restabilize his mind with various mental exercise. While it is shown that Beyond Corporation were successful in rewriting Ben’s mind he seems to forget the key Uncle Ben’s words of “With Great Power, There Must Also Come Great Responsibility.”
Elsewhere, Maxine Danger sets reminds Dr. Ashley Kafka about her status as a clone makes it so she doesn’t have the same human rights. Dr. Kafka tries to argue against this but Maxine quickly shuts her down by saying Beyond Corporation can always find a different use for Dr. Kafka. To make her point Maxine takes out a container with something that leaves Dr. Kafka in shock.
Sometime later Peter is eventually challenged to stop Steve and Felicia in a mock burglary. Peter shows some progression but is still easily defeated by Steve and Felicia. Understanding that he needs to do better Peter quickly picks himself up and asks Steve and Felicia to continue training him.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane Watson returns to her apartment after working with Black Cat on a mission (as seen in Mary Jane & Black Cat: Beyond #1). When she enters her apartment she is shocked to find Janine Godbe waiting their to talk. End of issue.
The Good: With it announced that Zeb Wells will be the sole ongoing writer for Amazing Spider-Man starting in April its not surprising to see that he is using some of his issues to focus on Peter Parker. In particular, Wells focuses on making sure that Peter’s near-death experience isn’t simply forgotten. Instead it is something that Peter needs time to not only recover but come back stronger as Spider-Man.
Which is what made Felicia Hardy being the one to not only identify this but be proactive about helping Peter out work so well. The entire story in Amazing Spider-Man #87 makes great use of the progress in the relationship between Peter and Felicia in recent years. Sure, there will always likely be some romantic tension between the two but it is not what defines their relationship. Rather, both Peter and Felicia have been able to move more into being great friends that each can turn to since they know both their superhero and personal identities on a different level than others in their respective lives.
Understanding both sides of Peter, Felicia showed she understood that Peter can’t be his same reckless self by just going back to being Spider-Man like he would normally after recovering enough from an injury. Bringing in Steve Rogers added weight to how Peter needed to take things seriously as Captain America is the hero Peter respects most. It makes great use of what Captain America represents in the Marvel Universe and gets Peter in the mindset of training again.
The progression of the training itself is handled well to give a sense of time passing without spending to much time explaining things. Wells let the artwork by Carlos Gomez to tell as much of the story of Peter getting back to 100% as Spider-Man again. The visual storytelling gave greater strength to what Felicia and Steve told Peter as the days passed. By the end we do see actual growth in Peter as he fully understands that he has to get back into shape mentally and physically to make sure he can safely return to being Spider-Man.
Having Ben Reilly’s own character arc continue in the middle of all the training segments was a nice change of pace. Wells made sure to spend just enough time on how the Beyond Corporation went about recovering Ben mentally after it appeared that his mind completely broke in the latest mindwipe process. At the same time, Wells gave greater wait to this process as we see that because Ben experienced his memories breaking in such a severe way he did not return to his normal self the Beyond Corporation created. Instead there are memories that either appear to be lost or repressed, including the Spider-Man motto of “With Great Power, There Must Also Come Great Responsibility.” What this means for Ben’s character arc moving forward will be interesting to see.
Just as interesting is the fact that Janine Godbe was able to use what Doctor Otto Octavius revealed to making moves. As with her sub-plot developments in the previous issue it was refreshing that Janine is finally getting a story for her character. Even in the one panel that she appears you get a sense that Janine has agency again and is no longer just a mannequin for Ben to hug and kiss as she has been throughout the Beyond Era. What exactly Janine intends to do and why she went to MJ furthers the entire Beyond story as now Ben and Peter’s worlds are crossing over.
The other intriguing development was with Maxine Danger and Dr. Ashley Kafka. Wells and the Beyond Board have not hidden the fact that Maxine is one of the antagonists for the Beyond direction. Maxine straight up calling Dr. Kafka not a human since she is a clone was harsh but exactly in line with everything we’ve seen from her character. What made this work was that Wells wrote the dialogue so Maxine never broke from the calm tone she was saying everything in. It made how Dr. Kafka was completely thrown off by everything Maxine said much more effective. It all brings to question what exactly Maxine showed Dr. Kafka to shake her so bad in the final panel of their scene together.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: As we’ve moved forward with the Beyond Era Zeb Wells and the Beyond Board have found their grove in how to progress the overall story. With Amazing Spider-Man #87 Wells is able to progress Peter Parker’s side of the story in a great way as Felicia Hardy and Steve Rogers are brought in to regain his previous Spider-Man form. That training combined with the developments around Ben Reilly, Maxine Danger, Dr. Ashley Kafka, and Janine Godbe all worked to create greater interest in what will happen next in the Beyond Era for Amazing Spider-Man.