The Amazing Spider-Man continues to juggle multiple plots, but this week, Peter Parker must focus his attention on his partner, Clairvoyant. Sure, his attention is split since Betty Brant revealed she’s pregnant, but at least Peter doesn’t know his sister is in great danger. That’s right, the Chameleon is messing with his sister as he reveals new details about their parents’ deaths! In part two of the “Chameleon Conspiracy”, can Spider-Man stop the seizure of a very important weapon?
Don’t expect a lot of plot progression in Amazing Spider-Man #68. This issue is a table-setting issue for sure, though it does give us more Spider-Man action than in previous chapters. A rarity for the series. It opens with Peter’s sister Teresa Parker confronting The Finisher — the man that killed their parents — and coming to grips with a situation she can no longer control. Writers Nick Spencer and Ed Brisson are clearly setting this plot up for further examination, but before it can dig into anything substantial, the plot moves on to Betty, Peter, and Ned Leeds.
This chunk of the story is the most expository, revealing background for both Betty and Ned to move along the plot. It’s a lot of heavy lifting to catch us up, which is unfortunate since it ends up sounding interesting but told in a slow and uninteresting way. That said, Ned isn’t the lead character in this book and the focus on him ends up getting away from Spider-Man, which is a common problem with this series.
This leads to the Clairvoyant sub-plot which takes up the second half of the book. There’s a bit of a heist going on in this issue, though it lacks the heist setup and planning one expects. Instead, it dives right in, utilizing a few familiar faces like Slyde to amp up the supervillain quota. Aside from a cool double-page layout with a map of Slyde making his way through a building, the scene is all setup and no payoff. It’ll make you want to read the next issue — especially since we get to see Spider-Man in his own costume for multiple pages — because it sets up a big action sequence.
The issue suffers because it can’t get enough going in any single plot to matter. The flashbacks certainly detail lots of stories, but they are told in an expository way that’s rushed. The opening moves Teresa from one room to another and the second half is enjoyable enough but is frustratingly cut short. All of this amounts to a story that will most definitely read better when collected.
The art is split between Marco Ferreira, Carlos Gomez, and Ze Carlos. It’s naturally broken up between each scene so it’s never jarring when artists change. It is unfortunate the double shipping forces books like this to be drawn by multiple artists, but Spencer and editor Nick Lowe seem to break it up in a way to aid the strengths of each artist. It’s not clear who wraps up this book, but the final full-page splash is an excellent rendering of Spidey about to face off against his foes.
As a setup issue, the story presented here isn’t bad; it just reads as unfinished. It picks up plot points and carries them forward to varying degrees, but ends up never having an impactful moment to hang its hat on. That makes Amazing Spider-Man #68 unremarkable, even if it’s necessary.
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