It is abundantly clear at this point the current Spider-Man series is disassembling and reassembling a lot of stories in the Spider-Man storyline. From Sin-Eater returning to Harry Osborn taking on a new form, writer Nick Spencer seems to be playing with Spider-Man history while putting his own spin on it. This week, Chameleon takes center stage, who we already know is getting a special extra-sized issue in June. In what is customary for this series, don’t expect a ton of Spider-Man action, but do expect multiple plots to advance forward.
This issue juggles three plots fairly well. It opens with Teresa Parker breaking into the prison where Chameleon is held. She’s come for answers and given his proclivity to be a menacing manipulator it’s a fun cat-and-mouse sort of scene. It is intercut with Peter totally gobsmacked to find Betty Brant very far along in her pregnancy. That continues the trend of the last issue which focused on children of key characters. Spencer thankfully doesn’t keep us waiting on an answer and the pregnancy plays into some reoccurring Spidey themes that make sense.
This issue does a lot to catch us up to speed in these two scenes. Flashbacks to previous moments from decades ago to just a few years ago are used to remind us where characters are at. It’s a reminder of how complex this series has become.
Another plot moves forward involving Peter Parker’s science partner Jaimie, first introduced in 2019, that plays into a creation he made. Spencer does a good job establishing details about Jaimie’s personal life while integrating a familiar face into his troubles. We also get another check-in on a key figure in Spider-Man’s past, further propelling us along in reassembling things that were once dead and broken. And on top of all that, make sure to read to the end of the comic as there’s a special epilogue tying into the summer Sinister War event.
Art by Marcelo Ferreira and Carlos Gomez is solid, utilizing a darker ink that gives the book a haunting feel at times. Inker Wayne Faucher backs up both artists and they are joined by colorist Morry Hollowell with Andrew Crossley too. Unfortunately, comics don’t always say who drew what, but Ferreira’s style is all over this book and he’s drawn most of it. The Chameleon scene is particularly well-drawn because it’s all in a single cell, yet the scene is tense and never boring. Chameleon has a haunting look with deep shadows running across his face as if he’s darkness incarnate.
I might sound like a broken record here since I’ve mentioned it in previous reviews, but it continues to be odd how little of Peter Parker there is in this book, especially Peter as Spider-Man. It continues to be an ensemble that’s juggling a lot of plot threads, and it never gets confusing, which is a testament to the planning and writing. A slight detriment to that though is how plots can only move so far as there’s less time for each.
Another downside for some might be how much Spencer is unraveling. From the epilogue to what is likely going to be a major rewrite for Teresa Parker — who was only introduced in 2014 — it’s tough to see so much be referenced and tackled. So goes serial storytelling, though, so it shouldn’t be too hard to know your darlings may be in danger.
Spencer continues to juggle so much in this series while playing to longtime fans’ interests with callbacks and resets of characters. In superhero comics, nobody ever dies and nothing is certain, and this series has been a testament to that. Amazing Spider-Man is good ensemble storytelling — it’s just unfortunate Spider-Man never seems to be our main focus.
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