The epic that is Nick Spencer’s Kindred story came to an end recently — or so we thought. Volume 11 reveals how Kindred gets captured, but when you put a devil in a box what makes you so sure he doesn’t want to be there? In “Shattered Web”, the 12th volume of Spencer’s run is collected and it focuses on the fallout of Kindred being taken off the streets, what it means to the Osborns knowing Harry is Kindred, and the machinations of Kingpin’s plotting all come into focus.
Collecting Amazing Spider-Man #56 to #60, this collection continues the trend of Spencer resetting major plot points he created or bringing characters back to their original factory settings, so to speak. The most heavily tinkered with in this volume is Mister Negative. Martin Lin is haunted by the demonic forces that gave him his powers and, tying in Aunt May, he’s in grave danger. Lin was separated from that force and a large plot point in this book is how he regains its powers against his own will.
Spencer is very good at mixing up many subplots and bigger superhero plots. There is good time spent between Aunt May and Peter Parker, for instance, and the raging shame of the Osborn’s is explored head-on. How Mary Jane and Peter feel about her is tackled in the last issue collected here and it’s done in a way to capture the deep bond of these characters.
Juggling two other major plots, Spencer is effective in how he’s moving the Kindred story along. The true mission of Kindred remains in question, but it’s interesting to see the fallout of his actions. What he’s done to his family is natural and believable. There are good callbacks to previous issues, like the recent Web of Venom: The Good Son, which build on Spidey history and is rock solid. “Juggling” is an appropriate word for this issue since it’s tossing a few familiar threads in the air and some of them are coming down on top of one another in surprising ways. The cliffhanger seems to suggest there’s a pairing we’ve never seen before, for instance, which is exciting.
The nature of serial stories tends to force creators to recap past stories, sometimes recapping story points from the last issue, and that tends to happen a lot in this series. It may be partly due to so many plots being used at once, but it can get rather annoying when you’ve been following along closely.
If the Kindred story has been a frustrating one for you, or at the very least drawn on too long for you, you’ll need to separate yourself from it to enjoy what is in this collection. The character seemingly won’t leave the minds of these characters as they ponder what he’s done to them or think about the man under the mask. Still, Kindred’s presence hangs over this issue in a way that can feel frustrating. The character is literally in a box, unable to be removed from the narrative. His presence seems to be on every page due to the choices in a darker color and heavier inks. It’s not clear why Kindred must remain a focus save for his ties to family, but his smirking face seems to suggest a plan is still taking place. From that, the reader is still left wondering what he could be plotting, which is at this point tiresome.
This collection splits art duties between Mark Bagley and Marcelo Ferreira. As usual, Bagley’s detailed style suits the book well even when many scenes are characters talking. Ferreira suits this series’ darker tone. Inked by Wayne Faucher with colors by Morry Hollowell, the use of shadow and light is exceptional. The tears in Spidey’s costume look great and you can get a sense of the man under the mask, too. This is truly a dark tale, which you can see in how eyes are cast in shadow or how emotions run high. The intensity of emotion is shown across various characters, which aid in creating a sense of drama in a book that is light on action. Again, Ferreira does well with these scenes. Quick cuts to flashbacks work well as they literally hover over Peter’s mind and integrate amongst panels via dissolve.
If you’re a sucker for the relationships and emotional turmoil of Peter Parker, you’ll love this series. The joy of Spider-Man is absent, but that’s largely due to the ramifications of Kindred. And while that character can be tiring, at this point it’s becoming more obvious Spencer is resetting everything which adds a glimmer of hope this series may eventually return to a more classic Spider-Man form.
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