Amazing Spider-Man #5 is a welcomed return to action, in direct contrast to the previous two installments in the recently relaunched series, that moves the story forward in several interesting ways but still maintains some of the strange characterization that plagued previous entries. Yet, what Amazing Spider-Man #5 does best, and in an incredibly seamless way, is combine the two disparate stories of Black Cat and Electro’s revenge with Cindy Moon’s intrusion into Peter Parker’s world.
The majority of Amazing Spider-Man #5 is spent filling out the motivations of its starring characters, particularly those of Felicia Hardy and Cindy Moon. While Felicia is still depicted as a villain, just as out-of-character as before, here Slott has her directly interacting with the criminal underworld. This helps to flesh out Felicia’s motives and illustrates the direct results of Spider-Man’s actions against her during the Superior era. In the language of this particular story, this motivation makes sense but it still comes in stark contrast with how the character has been portrayed in the past. When was the last time Felicia operated with the fictional gang lords of Manhattan other than to try and impress Spider-Man? Here she is depicted as having a rich background of operations within the criminal underground, a never-before-seen development for the character.
While the character of Cindy Moon, Silk, still remains wholly mysterious, her physical relationship with Peter Parker takes the forefront here. While the introduction of a female superheroine who sole and irrational desire is to be physically intimate with the male titular hero might not be the best way to bring female readers to comics, it does allow for some fun interplay between the characters and a “love triangle” of the most bizarre sorts. There is a great deal of entertainment to be had in the dramatic moments when Peter wakes up from his carnal lust and realizes what he’s been doing, as if he just awoke from sleeping on train tracks. This isn’t the first time Peter has been walked in on canoodling a woman he didn’t expect to ever be kissing in the first place. Cindy Moon has a long way to go to become an interesting character worthy of hanging around but at least she’s found a way to put Peter in some awkward narrative situations.
While both of these characterizations remain less than ideal they do represent a slight step forward for each character. It also helps that the pacing of this issue is amongst Slott’s strongest yet. Scenes zip back and forth through smart and understandable transitions, backed by strong motivations, but take their time just enough to leave a punch, often warping between locations through the use of the television screen and studio locations. Slott has also filled each scene and interaction with some genuinely clever details and character interactions that are guaranteed to bring a smile to the reader’s face. The joke about Sajani’s place of capture being a fancy hotel as compared to the “abandoned warehouse in a bad part of town” and Peter’s hug with the ravenous Jonah are two standouts. Nothing is more awkward in a modern Spider-Man comic than the fact that Jonah and Peter are essentially step-brothers and Slott does good to briefly joke about their history as characters.
Ramos’s pencilwork here is amongst the best that he’s done since the relaunch. Here his facial renderings take the forefront alongside some wonderful action and character introductions. As opposed to Amazing Spider-Man #2, Ramos has reigned in Electro’s electric bolts and here uses them to build up the power of the villain as well as guide the eye of the reader, as opposed to just filling the frame. One of would be remiss to not to mention Edgar Delgado’s colors which really fill out the inks to create some wonderful shading that renders all the characters, new and old, with stunning depth. Together they are the premiere team to be working on Spider-Man books, especially if only asked to deliver one book a month.
Amazing Spider-Man #5 is a huge step forward for a book that has stumbled in recent issues but it still features a strange characterization of Black Cat that continues to plague the storytelling. Regardless, the story has a ton of energy that is appropriately managed and comedic character dynamics that harken back to earlier Spider-Man stories that make for an enjoyable read. It doesn’t play with tragedy, power, and responsibility the way the strongest Amazing Spider-Man comics do but with a fair sense of self-awareness Amazing Spider-Man #5 doesn’t demand their inclusion.