Things are heating up as we nearly reach the end of the Beyond Era for Amazing Spider-Man. The Beyond Corporation has been fully positioned as the antagonist of the story as we learned all the ways they manipulated Ben Reilly to be their corporate-sponsored Spider-Man. Along with that they’ve created their own villain by transforming Dr. Ashley Kafka into the Queen Goblin. Luckily Peter Parker has finally recovered enough to return to action as Spider-Man to help save the day. What will happen next in the Beyond Era? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #90
Writer: Patrick Gleason
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, Andy Owens, Wayne Faucher, and Victor Olazaba
Colorists: Bryan Valenza, Dijjo Lima, and Andrew Crossley
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: An hour earlier we see Janine Gobde reveal to Ben Reilly that the Beyond Corporation orchestrated all the recent villain attacks, including the fight with the U-Foes that left Peter Parker in a near-death state. Janine convinces Ben to take her to McCarthy Medical Center before he heads off to find out why he has gaps in his memories.
In the present Spider-Man (Peter Parker) fights Queen Goblin (Dr. Ashley Kafka) throughout New York City. They eventually end up taking their fight near the Queensboro Bridge. Queen Goblin is able to grab hold of Spider-Man and uses her Goblin’s Gaze to tap into all his fears. Queen Goblin then dumps the mesmerized Spider-Man into the river.
Peter is able to overcome all his doubts and fears by imagining Ben reminding him they are both Spider-Man and they never give up.
Spider-Man leaps out of the river and is able to land a surprise attack on Queen Goblin that knocks her out.
Seeing all this Maxine Danger orders her team to use the Goblin Glider to bring Queen Goblin back to the lab. She is then informed that they were able to find Ben’s location to be somewhere in Staten Island.
Peter reunites with Black Cat and Mary Jane Watson. The three of them are able to listen into Maxine Danger talking to her team through the crown Peter knocked off Queen Goblin. Peter decides to go back out as Spider-an to find Ben.
Over in Staten Island, Ben is having a tough time remembering who he is. Peter arrives and takes off his mask to remind him that they don’t have much time to stop the Beyond Corporation. Both Peter and Ben put their Spider-Man masks back on and head off to take on the Beyond Corporation as brothers. End of issue.
The Good: Things don’t really change when it comes to the strengths and weaknesses of the current Beyond storyline. Once again Peter Parker steps up to show why he is the Amazing Spider-Man. While Ben Reilly’s story feels like it is dragging on with what looks to be a payoff that won’t be elevating the character once all is said and done.
To focus on the strengths of Amazing Spider-Man #90, it was certainly great to see Peter Parker again in action. It definitely felt like we were getting genuine superhero storytelling with Peter as Spider-Man taking on the rampaging Queen Goblin. All of the action was smooth as Mark Bagley made the most of the time he had to draw all of the action. Both Peter’s Spider-Man and Queen Goblin were able to show off their respective combat ability. Even with Queen Goblin losing in the end it was only done by a surprise attack by Spider-Man. That leaves Queen Goblin looking strong even in defeat so she could possibly be used as the main villain of a storyline down the line.
The fight also worked to further tell the story of where Peter is currently at. Even though he is back as being Spider-Man he is far from being 100%. Patrick Gleason and Bagley did a great job in furthering that narrative through both the dialogue and artwork. Peter falling under the effects of Queen Goblin’s Goblins Gaze was a nice touch to have him get that final push he needed. We saw in this state Peter was fighting with doubts in mind. Pushing through all those negative thoughts to regain his never give attitude as the Amazing Spider-Man elevated the importance of his return.
Going from this fight to Peter meeting up with Black Cat and MJ worked well to advance the plot to bring it back to focusing on the Beyond Corporation. Peter recognizing that the fight with the Queen Goblin set him back in his recovery as he is now at 50% was a good use of character self-awareness. Even though he is still going out to be active as Spider-Man in order to bring down Beyond Corporation alongside Ben there is now this additional hill of Peter fighting against his own condition. Establishing that before the fight with the Beyond Corporation opens things up for more drama to take place.
The other character that once again shines in Amazing Spider-Man #90 was Janine Gobde. Gleason does a really good job with finding Janine’s voice so she is character with her own agency for the first time in this Beyond storyline. Janine revealing that the Beyond Corporation has been behind all the villains Ben has taken on since becoming Spider-Man increased her importance to the overall plot. She is now a driving factor for why the Beyond Corporation’s plans are crumbling. Which should make Janine meeting Maxine Danger one of the more anticipated moments of these last few issues of the Beyond Era for Amazing Spider-Man.
Speaking of Maxine Danger, Gleason also continues to work well with developing her character as the main antagonist of this story. Maxine’s development has been consistently one of the best parts of the Beyond story in Amazing Spider-Man. Every time she appears on screen the anticipation for her getting her ultimate comeuppance grows. What Maxine and the Beyond Corporation have planned when they find out both Peter and Ben’s Spider-Man are coming to stop them will be very interesting to see.
The Bad: All of that said Ben Reilly’s character arc in all of this continues to dovetail the deeper we get into the Beyond Era. The confirmation that everything Ben did as Spider-Man being completely manufactured by the Beyond Corporation did nothing to build sympathy for his character. Instead it just further spotlights how Ben’s story was nothing more than a gimmick to sell more issues of Amazing Spider-Man until the series gets a new main creative team.
It really is disappointing to feel this way about Ben’s character arc. Especially when you see how when Gleason and the Beyond Board develop other characters around Ben he comes across as one-note in comparison. Peter’s return further highlighted how thin of a character arc Ben has gotten as he is till trying to break away from being clone 30 years after his creation.
Also, with the Beyond Corporation fully thrusted into the antagonist position it is odd that Misty Knight and Colleen Wing have become non-factors in the story. This is such an odd omission since both Misty Knight and Colleen Wing should play an important role in taking down the Beyond Corporation. But they are nowhere to be found after a few brief interactions with Ben Reilly early on in the Beyond Era. If you are going to bring in heroes like Misty Knight and Colleen Wing it is a waste of characters and story potential to not actually have them involved this close to the end of Beyond.
Overall: Just like the previous issue, Amazing Spider-Man #90 was a reminder of how much Peter Parker was missed as the series lead. Peter battle with Queen Goblin was so different from all the fights Ben got into as Spider-Man with other villains. While that is certainly a negative for Ben Reilly’s character there is a lot to enjoy in Amazing Spider-Man #90 when it comes to the developments around Peter, Janine Gobde, and Maxine Danger. Its their character arc that have built a high investment level as we enter the final stage of the Beyond story.