The second part of Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferreira’s The Amazing Spider-Man’s Negative Space reads like the finale of a transitional story. While the main plot is a classic Spider-Man tale of saving the day from an iconic New York City villain, the story’s window dressing is that of setting up many stories to come. It’s a tried, true and somewhat worn out way of creating a jumping-on point for new readers.
The first thing that struck me about this issue is that Nick Spencer’s inner monologue for Peter Parker feels off. It comes off as somewhat dour and heavy-handed throughout the issue, which doesn’t contrast enough with the serious tone of the rest of the issue. The whole thing is rather pointlessly hopeless for the first 10-12 pages.
It isn’t until Wilson Fisk comes into the story that Spencer is able to imbue the issue with a bit of intrigue. The relationship between Fisk and Spider-Man has been a hallmark of Spencer’s run, and it makes its way into this issue just early enough to save the reader’s attention. Like in many issues before, Fisk’s position as mayor is leveraged to make Spider-Man’s future more complicated and unpredictable. This is the largest reason to come back to this series if you’re just jumping on with this new story arc, but I’d wager it might be what’s hooked longer term readers too.
Following this, we get two stories that serve as small epilogues to the main plot of the issue. One features an archetypal interaction between Peter Parker and Aunt May, and the other features Norman Osborn in the refreshingly new take this series has recently molded him in. While neither of these small interactions are necessary for this issue, they both sow the seeds for future stories, and serve to balance out the main plot’s hopeless tone with some welcome brevity and hope.
Should We Marvel?
Marcelo Ferreira’s art is strange in this issue in that it only looks exceptionally good when drawing super people. His Spider-Man, Mr. Negative and Wilson Fisk all look classically accurate, and more importantly they’re fun to read. In contrast, Ferreira often draws his normal people slightly disfigured, partially pudgy and stiflingly shadowed. I think this contributes to the weighty tone of the book’s first half.
I don’t want that to sound like an insult, though — it’s a style that reminds me of Immortal Hulk’s Joe Bennett, and if it was in a book that sought to give off a different tone I think Ferreira would be exceeding with flying colors. As it is, though, throughout the issue his use of deep shadows, black backgrounds and small light sources make this seem like a poor mesh of creator and character.
Ferreira seems to be doing his best work when playing with the toys of the issue. Whether it’s a page of Spider-Man fighting Mr. Negative’s gang of Inner Demons, or simply a spotlight panel where Mr. Negative gets somewhat of a hero shot, there seems to be just a little more care given. Even later in the issue when Wilson Fisk and Mr. Negative are simply carrying on a conversation, their presence in a room together raises the qualify of the art.
Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferreira’s The Amazing Spider-Man #59 is a serviceable, if somewhat tonally inconsistent, reintroduction to why readers should be following this story. All the main players and most of the main plots are brought to the table, effective teases are made and classic Spider-Man appears. However, if you’re looking for a story that serves up bundles of excitement on its own, this may not be the issue for you.
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