Amazing Spider-Man has been a real treat under the tutelage of the Beyond Board (Patrick Gleason, Zeb Wells, Cody Ziglar, Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed), and this week the creative team switches. Kelly Thompson and Sara Pichelli take over and aim to show Ben Reilly’s time at the Beyond Corporation and draw readers in with a new threat Spider-Man must face. Sounds like a win-win to me.
And for the most part, it is indeed a win. The book opens with Spider-Man training with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing and being pushed beyond his own limits. Whether that’s because Peter’s coma is on his mind, or that he’s just not as quick as he should be, but that’s where Maxine Danger comes into play. Head of superhero development, Thompson makes Maxine instantly interesting due to her tough-as-nails demeanor and dead seriousness. It’s going to be fun to see Ben’s chipper attitude play off this character.
From there, the book shifts to Ben interacting a bit with his wife Elizabeth and checks in with Mary Jane and Aunt May at the hospital. Both scenes economically show the bonds of these characters and their state of mind. The character dynamics are a key factor in Spider-Man and they’re all done well in this issue.
With those elements out of the way, it’s time for some Morbius action! It’s not much of a spoiler to say he’s in this comic since he’s been revealed in teasers and solicits, but you will be surprised by how he acts. This scene helps show how Ben might be a bit too careless while catching us up on how Morbius’s current state of mind is far off from where we left him.
Sara Pichelli draws a good issue, with heartfelt moments between Ben and Elizabeth, as well as some sharp action with Morbius. The opening page shows some quick dodges by Spidey, but Pichelli’s art shines the most when Spider-Man doesn’t have his mask on. Ben has a very different look from Peter’s and his overall demeanor is way more jovial. There’s a key scene where he’s going over a memory he has with Dr. Kafka that’s compelling due to what is discovered, but also due to Pichelli’s way of showing various emotions as he recounts elements of the tale. It’s in scenes like this you’re drawn into the character.
There are some flat-looking pages though, especially the double-page layout after the first page, and some art that looks a touch less sharp for Pichelli. Overall it’s great work, but there are a few hitches in the flow of the story, like when Ben is speaking to Elizabeth, that snag on the pacing. One other minor gripe is the cliffhanger, which doesn’t seem all that scary for Ben given the incredible suit that has already saved his skin in previous issues.
Color artist Nolan Woodard adds interesting textures to backgrounds that help lift the characters off the page. The Morbius scene in particular is well done, from the lighting that creates some complex color choices on Morbius, or the splashes of red that enhance the feel of danger as Spidey dodges Morbius to enhance the scene.
Amazing Spider-Man‘s new era has a lot going for it. Thompson and Pichelli get a lot done in this issue, touching on multiple relationships while also delivering some tense action to close the book out. The exciting, messy, exhausting, and complicated life of Spider-Man is on full display.
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