Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man has all been leading to this, the final five issues of his run that wrap up in the What Cost Victory? trade paperback. It follows Chameleon Conspiracy, which is one of several collections under Spencer that was hellbent on resetting villains from Spider-Man’s past. This last trade paperback focuses mostly on working out Harry Osborn’s complicated history while also putting a definitive period on the end of Kindred.
Collected here are Amazing Spider-Man #70-74 with the first two issues tying into Sinister War. Issue #72 is part 2 of Sinister War — although oddly, Sinister War #2 was also dubbed part 2 — and opens with Spider-Man getting beaten up by his many iconic villains. Doc Ock gets a hit in, as do Electro, Sandman, and more. If the main event wasn’t enough, you get more here.
If you’ve read Sinister War you probably don’t need to read these opening chapters, but it’s helpful if you’re sticking with just this series. It also establishes the state of Spider-Man so that it can jump into a flashback featuring Norman Osborn. This is largely his issue aside from a bit of table setting with other characters.
Things really pick up in Amazing Spider-Man #73, as Spencer adds new context around who was involved when Peter’s parents returned in the ’90s. It also goes a long way in showing how Harry isn’t just the son of Norman Osborn, but a major villain who has played a huge part in Spider-Man’s turmoil. This issue also touches on other key moments in Harry’s trials over the years, further retconning or adding new detail to straighten the crooked line.
Once Kindred’s connections to Spider-Man’s past stories are settled, the final issue in this collection actually becomes much more focused on Mephisto. Amazing Spider-Man #74 opens with Mephisto, which you can see in the preview, and we soon learn a lot of what has occurred surrounding Kindred and Spencer’s arc is due to Mephisto meddling. We learn that Mephisto made a deal with Norman Osborn and the deal cost him his son Harry’s soul. Also in play is a clone of Harry running around, Mary Jane being very close to danger, and Spider-Man fighting two Kindreds instead of one.
Once all is revealed, this final issue pads itself out with a lot of senseless punching. Spider-Man punches one of the two Kindred characters, they punch back, rinse and repeat. It gets tiresome after a while, especially since nobody seems to tire or be injured by any of it. Thankfully it does culminate in a moment involving Norman being a kinder father to Harry and owning up to his mistakes. That gives the larger story some purpose.
Much of this book juggles five artists, with a few more thrown in for the finale. Spencer is also joined by Christos Gage in the main story. Marcelo Ferreira, Mark Bagley, Ze Carlos, Dio Neves, Carlos Gomez, and Ivan Fiorelli all contribute in the final chapter and throughout the book. Humberto Ramos joins in for the final few pages as well, which suggests the art was split up to ensure the book was released on time. The art is strong throughout with plenty of cool shots of Spidey, some interesting layout choices to mix up the chaotic fighting, and scary moments of Kindred. Nearly the entire last issue takes place in a single room, making the characters and their fighting the central focus.
Closing out the book are three backup stories. The first is by Christos Gage and Todd Nauck, a heartfelt reminder of how many folks Uncle Ben helped out and continues to help out long after his passing. There’s an intriguing perspective on the mantra “with great power comes great responsibility” that actually makes some sense. Nauck does well with the multiple montages, as well as his rendition of Peter Parker.
Next is a double page of Spider-Man’s entire history by Sean Ryan and Gustavo Duarte that plays up the fact that recapping Spidey’s history in two pages is impossible. Spidey gets it done though, even with a song thrown in. Gustavo’s art maximizes the comedic elements in the smaller renderings of Spidey that are practically like doodles.
Wrapping up the book is a story by Zeb Wells and Ivan Fiorelli that ties directly into the Ben Reilly-led Amazing Spider-Man. This story serves as a refresher of a key figure in Ben Reilly’s life and it’s cool to see a supporting character getting so much focus.
Fans who were tired of Kindred can finally breathe a sigh of relief as that story has come to its end. Unfortunately, this last collection continues the same trend most of the series followed: it’s too long and drawn out. The series also closes out in a highly melodramatic way with characters once thought dead reappearing, fathers in tears about their bad parenting, and gratuitous speeches that seem to mean little in the end.
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