Editors note: This issue incorrectly credited Marcelo Ferreira for penciling when in fact it was by Mark Bagley.
“Sins Rising” has been an interesting story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man that has social and political implications as Sin-Eater grows a cult of people who want to enact vigilante justice. Part four takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #48 and things come to a head as Sin-Eater sets his sights on cleansing Norman Osborn of his sins. And by that I don’t mean he kills him, but rather he makes him a kind person. So why is Spider-Man conflicted about letting Sin-Eater “fix” his greatest nemesis who has only caused him pain? Find out in the latest issue.
I’ve enjoyed the “Sins Rising” story arc but also found faults in it. It is an admirable angle on villains, cultish groups, and the capability of curing a person of their wrongful nature. This fourth chapter is a very well written issue by Nick Spencer, equally well illustrated by Mark Bagley, that capitalizes on the themes of the arc while tapping into Peter Parker’s nature to save everyone. In the most basic terms, this is a fantastic issue and the best issue of the story arc thus far. If you’re a longtime reader of Spider-Man there’s a lot here that pays off your knowledge of the character, and that goes for Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen/Ghost Spider too. I wouldn’t call it fan-service, but it does capitalize on the history of the character in a way that’ll make longtime fans very happy.
The backbone of the issue, so to speak, is Spider-Man’s internal monologuing via captions strewn across the book. Here we get to see his doubts, his flip-flopping on the issue of “fixing” Norman Osborn and begin to understand why this is troubling Spider-Man so much. As he’s thinking throughout the issue he’s fighting alongside teammates like Ghost Spider and Miles Morales, keeping the action high and entertaining. There’s a good explanation for these team-ups too, further making the story logical and sound.
The art by Bagley, with inks by Roberto Poggi and colors by David Curiel, is quite good. This is classic Bagley with the detailed nature, the quality of each panel, and good attention to framing. There are key flashbacks to Spider-Man’s interactions with Norman that are economically done yet still very impactful. There’s a lot of captioning and dialogue in this book, but it flows about as good as you’d expect. Good framing helps draw the eye, too. Take for example a scene with Ghost Spider and Spider-Man, both talking on a speeding train. The lights around them whip by, helping to create a logical focal point on the characters. On this same page, there’s an interesting webbed framing device around Ghost Spider that helps add weight and attention to her words. Little things like this are seen throughout, showing you there’s a little extra effort going on to help tell the story.
It’s pretty obvious if this story arc started here it would have been better for it. This issue weaves together Sin-Eater’s morally suspect approach with Peter Parker’s struggle to save everyone. Everything is coming to a head and making a lot of sense. The cliffhanger further isolates Spider-Man in a way that helps separate him from other heroes, many of which we’ve rooted for and still do on some level even when they disagree with Spider-Man. Spencer has gotten to the core of what makes Spider-Man tick when it comes to saving lives and that’s an exciting thing to see in modern comics.
Faults in this issue are hard to come by, especially if you’re a longtime read of Spider-Man. Newer readers will lose sight of the impact of much of what is going on here–not enough is done to keep newbies up to speed–but that’s been the case with much of Spencer’s run. Could this book be more new-reader friendly? Probably, but it chooses not to. Another issue I had is the cover, which is misleading and even confusing when compared to what is in this issue. That’s a common thing in comics, but this cover in particular feels like an extra-sized cheat.
This is one of the strongest issues I’ve read of The Amazing Spider-Man since Nick Spencer’s first story arc. It captures the struggle Spider-Man must go through to interact with the Green Goblin as a hero even though he has every right to hate and even wants to kill him. That struggle is at the core of what makes Spider-Man great, and to see him question it is an exciting and dark time for the character. All this, and there’s still more to reveal with secrets hinted at yet to be revealed, but likely coming in the milestone The Amazing Spider-Man #850.
The Amazing Spider-Man #48 is a breakdown of what makes Spider-Man tick, and perhaps one of the finest and most introspective looks at the Green Goblin and Spider-Man dynamic ever made.