After the lengthy 'Last Remains' arc (opens in new tab), Nick Spencer, Marcelo Ferreira, and company begin spinning a new thread for the wall-crawler with 'Negative Space' beginning in Amazing Spider-Man #58 (opens in new tab).
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Marcelo Ferreira, Wayne Faucher, and Morry Hollowell
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Focusing on Peter Parker's inner turmoil after the battle with Kindred, Amazing Spider-Man #58 lives by the strengths of its characters rather than the import of its plot. This is a decision that might anger some readers who are more invested in the larger going-ons, but it makes for an emotional read that shows off what makes Spider-Man so unique as a superhero.(opens in new tab)
The issue here opens with Spider-Man physically and emotionally damaged. Penciler Marcelo Ferreira poses Peter dynamically, legs under him suggesting a fight, but holding his arm showing Spidey's injury. He's shrouded in blackness, - inker Wayne Faucher and colorist Morry Hollowell do a fantastic job pulling out the shadows in Spidey's anatomy and costume – emphasizing the negative space around him. His enemy are the Demons, the gang of Martin Li's villainous alter-ego, Mr. Negative. And though Spider-Man has to deal with the gang, it's Peter Parker that has to deal with the emotional fallout of the previous arc.
The heart of a great Spider-Man story is Peter Parker and his relationships with the various characters that make up his supporting cast. Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferreira continue that trend, focusing on two different scenes that intertwine in the book. The first focuses on a distraught Martin Li speaking with Aunt May at the F.E.A.S.T. shelter he founded. The second sees Peter go to see Liz Allan to let her know that Harry Osborn has turned his back on the life they were building together.
Both scenes deal with absences, and writer Nick Spencer and letterer Joe Caramagna do a fantastic job emphasizing the negative spaces in the conversations - the pauses and hesitations in speech, and the secrets that are threatening the lives of everyone involved. The artwork here is fantastic, as Ferreira and Faucher render each facial expression with subtle detail and liveliness. Hollowell does a fantastic job as well, balancing between naturalistic panels that show the surrounding environment to little uses of red or gray-brown backgrounds to emphasize anger and heartbreak.
While there are some developments to the larger story that Nick Spencer is crafting in his run, this issue doesn't try to pick up many of the dangling threads from the 'Last Remains' arc. For some readers, that's going to be a big problem – 'Last Remains' was a large story that still left a number of questions to be answered in the previous issue. For now though, Spencer seems content to tease at the larger plot with captions like 'it's all connected' while giving room for the characters to breathe and process their emotions on the page. The more intimate stakes here are nice as well. While the cliffhanger for the issue and the presence of Norman Osborn hint at larger-scale threats, Amazing Spider-Man #58 is concerned with a villain losing his chance at redemption and family losing their dream of a happy life.
By focusing on this fallout, rather than the machinations of Kindred, or the Order of the Web, or whatever it is that Kingpin is up to, Nick Spencer, Joe Caramagna, and the art team of Marcelo Ferreira, Wayne Faucher, and Morry Hollowell create a haunting look at the lives of those affected by all the superheroics that comic fans often take for granted. Marvel has often sold its universe and Spider-Man in particular as being the 'world just outside your window' and The Amazing Spider-Man #58 is a great demonstration of that idea at work.
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