After a milestone issue last month, Marvel does a bit of double-dipping, effectively starting the latest arc of Amazing Spider-Man, 'Last Remains' with another nice round number. But for all the mystery surrounding the identity of Kindred, writer Nick Spencer stumbles out of the gate.
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Patrick Gleason and Edgar Delgado
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
To put it another way, was there any excitement about the identity of Kindred in the first place? He's been a thorn in Peter's side for some time now but Spencer doesn't always have the same penchant for putting pieces in place that we've seen from other writers. Artist Patrick Gleason joins Spencer for this arc and while he's not a bad draftsman in the least, he has yet to fully grasp the visual language of Spider-Man with the same ease he showed with a myriad of characters during his tenure at DC.
It's hard to make these big reveals something meaningful. But even from a basic storytelling standpoint, Spencer delivers a script that is choppy and out of sorts from the jump. On one hand, it could be argued that given Peter's state when we first catch up with him, it makes sense that the narrative feels a bit discombobulated. But Spencer's captioning telegraphs the big reveal on the second page, making the confirmation of that reveal at the issue's end something that will likely leave readers scratching their heads. If Kindred was ever a character that you found compelling because of his potential to be something new, you may be sorely disappointed.
Now the caveat with big comic book reveals is always that we don't actually know how the reveal will pay off yet and maybe the explanation will be really good. But Spencer's run with Amazing Spider-Man has lacked even one arc that felt uniquely tailored to his strengths. And that's surprising considering that arguably his best Marvel work is Superior Foes of Spider-Man which traded in a similar tone to what we're used to getting from a main Spider-Man title. But Spencer's work here feels bogged down by a lack of vision and that's unfortunate.
For my money, Patrick Gleason has been one of the most underrated artists in comics over the last decade. But his work with Marvel just hasn't resonated the same way with me that his work at DC did. This is something that we sometimes see from great artists though. Over time, their styles morph to match wherever their current interests and influences lie or in an effort to push themselves into a direction that is more satisfying. There's a lot of interesting business happening on Gleason's pages especially when it comes to Kindred's hellspawn centipedes or how he renders Norman Osborn's relationship with his Goblin identity. But his Spider-people leave a little to be desired. He's got a bit of that David Lafuente big-headed Spidey thing going on that just doesn't work for the tone of the book especially as it instantly de-ages Peter. But that's something that will likely work out in time as he becomes even more comfortable with the character.
Obviously, I'm not spoiling the big reveal in this review but the first caption on page two is a dead giveaway. And that leads me to believe that Spencer has something more up his sleeve. But for the opening issue of what seems like it's supposed to be a big arc, I really feel like Spencer is struggling to inject this book with the level of excitement seen elsewhere in the Marvel line. As always, 'time will tell' if this arc will really engage and satisfy readers but at this juncture, it can't help but feel anticlimactic.
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