The Amazing Spider-Man has been a two year ride that started with writer Nick Spencer and artist Ryan Ottey introducing a mysterious villain named Kindred. With Ottey leaving after The Amazing Spider-Man #850, it’s time to put their ideas to bed as Sin-Eater’s story comes to an end and Kindred takes a major focus this week. Taking place right after the milestone issue, this week’s Amazing Spider-Man sets up a new story arc called “Last Remains” and prepares readers for a magical Spidey experience.
This is a dark book, which is fitting given it’s October and just a few short weeks away from Halloween. It’s also the moment we’ve all been waiting for if you’ve been reading Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man. Kindred is behind the Sin-Eater resurgence as well as many other headaches for Peter Parker, but with Green Goblin effectively back in the green suit and Kindred’s plan working out about as well as he wanted, it’s time to get into it with the character. This issue not only reveals the identity of Kindred but sets up a story where Peter Parker is weakened and laying in the trash with little strength left. That’s right Spider-Man fans, Spidey is down for the count and needs to find another gear to rise up.
Patrick Geason draws this issue with some beautifully big-eyed Spider-Man moments, alongside expressive colors by Edgar Delgado. The opening with Kindred is creepy, as if he is the Crypt Keeper himself, and the use of underground shots and purple make for a supernatural and super-weird experience. There’s a lot of twisted imagery in this issue, like Goblin stretching out his mask or a vile thing that comes out of Sin-Eater you gotta see to believe. When Spider-Man is on the page things brighten up, but for the most part, this is a dark and shadowy experience.
Plot-wise, this book is confusing. It opens on yet another scene with Kindred doing evil things all by himself, cuts to Spider-Man swinging in the city and takes quite a while to get to how we got here. To further complicate things, the story picks up where Norman left off under Ravencroft; you might be left wondering if you missed an issue. Eventually, the narrative catches up with itself as it reveals in a dream at Dr. Strange’s house how Spider-Man was split up from his Spider-friends, who are now going by “The Order of the Web.”
Save for an expertly drawn 12-panel page to introduce Spider-Man to the story, it’s a confusing start to the story arc. One could argue the discombobulating nature of the plotting is on purpose, but it seems unnecessary to use flashbacks to reveal Spider-Man is sick, or maybe even worse corrupted. Further adding to the confusion is the unclear nature of Kindred’s powers, who appears to be able to conjure up demons now. Not knowing when things are happening, or what characters are capable of, makes for a confusing experience.
However, once you give this issue a second read through, it’s pretty clear what is going on. If you reorder the scenes there is something unnerving, strange, and deeply weird going on in Spider-Man’s life. At its core, The Amazing Spider-Man offers a dark and strange story for readers to navigate, but for better or worse Kindred remains an enigma that’s hard to pin down. It’s also been so long since the character was introduced that it’s hard to care.
Optimistic readers will want to read this for its strange and dark underbelly, especially for such a hopeful and positive character, but many may not find enough here to care about, trudging forward in a series that has become cold, slow, and underwhelming.