I praised Amazing Spider-Man #7 for how it ever so slightly managed to correct what I considered the numerous weakness of the first arc of Amazing Spider-Man. The book finally took time to address the ramifications of the “Superior era” and placed Spider-Man back in a position of power within his own book. The tone was more playful and it even had fun making jokes about how obvious the book’s team-up nature was.
Amazing Spider-Man #8 again gives Spider-Man more agency in his own book, even if he’s just instructing the young Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. The banter between the two, penned by Christos Gage, is satisfyingly funny and the punches come fast and furious. This is a typical team-up story and features all the things a rudimentary team-up fight typically features, particularly when the two characters combine their powers for a more powerful physical attack.
However, the story is totally forgettable and underwhelming. After all the set-up about the Kree attacker and the strange cocoon, the payoff means very little. Typically in a team-up book both the characters have to utilize their unique abilities together to defeat the villain, here Spider-Man literally ends the fight with a phone call. The joke is kind of clever but not worth spending two issues of suspense on. Equally disappointing is the reveal that inside the cocoon is an indiscriminate baby. This reveal elicited only the vaguest sympathy from me by the very nature of the child’s existence as a young and defenseless person of my own species. Does this baby have special powers? A family? Is there a reason to care about it beyond its existence?
Last issue we were teased that one of Dr. Minerva’s henchmen was a former foe of Spider-Man’s, leading me to believe that perhaps it could be Clayton “Clash” Cole from Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl. I have no problems with Clayton’s return to the book, as I think he has elements that could make for an interesting character, but here the tease is immediately revealed and Peter immediately recognizes him. In terms of reveals, this has to be one of the most forgettable. Imagine if through the next few years various henchmen continued to comment on their past with Spider-Man and Clayton was slowly introduced to the story. Instead, Slott and Gage seem intent on shoving this character into the main storyline with no mystery, as if audiences were clamoring for his immediate return after Learning to Crawl. Clayton’s return could lead to interesting stories later, but I have a hard time understanding what characteristics will make him stand out as a character beyond his penchant to weaponize sonics.
Silk makes a very brief appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #8 and she continues to remain uninteresting to me. I will say that I appreciate her change of uniform and that Gage acknowledges how “tacky” her first outfit was. It could be interesting to see how her insider position with The Fact Channel allows her to tailor her super-heroics to fit the channel’s desired characterization of her when she gets her own solo series. That said, does every single superhero have to work for a news organization?
Camuncoli’s pencils convey everything that is asked from the story but lack the dynamism and detail of the previous issue. The coloring of the main story is decent but, like the last issue, the colors and pencils in the backup steal much of the show.
As the cover suggests, Amazing Spider-Man #8 also features another back-up story that chronicles the Inquisitor’s rampage across the multiverse. Here Mayday Parker, from fan-favorite Spider-Girl, sees her universe under attack by Daemos, the brutish brother of Morlun. Ramos depicts the terrible scene in his signature style, presenting Daemos as this twisted and larger than life behemoth, capable of taking down a number of super-powered heroes. Yet, this is just another retread on the same type of story that we’ve gotten in all of the “Edge of the Spider-Verse” titles.
The death of Peter and Mary Jane from the Spider-Girl series is difficult to take, as the characters were really quite wonderfully written and this pretty much assures that the series will not return in the same way that Spider-Man 2099 has. My biggest problem with all these sequences is that they just return to beloved series to destroy their timeline in a way that only affects the audience rather than the core cast of characters in Amazing Spider-Man. As much as I’ve enjoyed the Edge of Spider-Verse series, perhaps these stories could be told outside of Amazing Spider-Man so that they can have the proper weight needed and tell full stories instead of just the barebones execution of worlds.
This backup, entitled “My Brother’s Keeper,” does go a step further than previous iterations in that it provides a suitable motivation for Spider-Girl’s inclusion in the story. Hopefully “Spider-Verse” will provide a suitable ending to Spider-Girl’s tale to justify the death of several wonderful characters in this issue.
With all this buildup, there is a lot of pressure and anticipation being placed on the “Spider-Verse” story, which begins in the next issue. For months I’ve received emails from listeners and readers who exclaimed that they never wanted Peter to return to the book because they loved Doctor Octopus as Spider-Man so much. I would always refute that, stating the numerous reasons that I’ve loved reading Peter’s stories over the years. They called Peter a “wet blanket,” “pushover,” and “whiny.” Peter has always had his fair share of problems, but I would never label him as any of these things.
Unfortunately, with the relaunch of this book, Amazing Spider-Man has given those voices credence. Even I’m not convinced that I need to continue reading the stories of Peter Parker, a character who feels particularly directionless and unable to learn from mistakes. Much of this has to do with how I feel the fallout of Superior Spider-Man has been handled. Why am I supposed to care about a character that cannot reflect and learn from serious events that have happened to him? This book’s lack of care for those stories damages not only the character but also the weight of what has come before. If none of that matters, then how will I know that what I’m reading now will matter in the future?
This relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man has been financially and even critically successful and yet I feel that it has really distanced me from the character that I’ve always followed slavishly, perhaps too slavishly. There have been far worse periods of time in Spider-Man comics but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so distant from Peter, including during Superior Spider-Man. Even then, I was presented with a character with drive and a goal that reflected back on the actions of Peter. Here, I don’t even know who Peter is as a character anymore. Big events and relaunches can only keep this series selling for so long. What attracted audiences to Superior Spider-Man was a consistent character with goals and relationships. It is time for Peter to receive the same treatment. Here’s is hoping that the wait for “Spider-Verse” will have been worth it.