Cody Ziglar and Michael Dowling take over Spider-Man this week in Amazing Spider-Man #79. Given the cliffhanger of the last issue, we can expect Kraven to pop up, but what of the seemingly immoral Beyond Corporation? So far this new creative team has created new inroads and dynamics well worth exploring (I gushed about it on the AIPT Comics podcast), and this week we get to see a slightly different vibe due to the different creative team.
Ziglar and Dowling continue the main story very well here. There’s a key check-in with Peter, who is still in a coma, as well as a few more shades of gray applied to the Beyond Corporation. It’s clear as day the Beyond Corporation is a company with interests that see Spider-Man as an asset, but Ziglar uses one of Beyond’s top dogs Marcus to show they aren’t straight-up evil either. In a sense, maybe they’re just trying to rein in the more chaotic nature of Spider-Man to save lives. It’s a nice reminder that Beyond is more complex than your typical comic book corporation.
There’s a lot to this issue that goes beyond that, though. Ziglar and Dowling stuff this book with important moments, action, and plenty of Ben Reilly personality. Even with an opening stinger that doesn’t yet have a payoff, the issue keeps you entertained. It’s clear as day Ziglar isn’t holding back and decompressing the book like so many comics before it and instead is going all-out with plot progression, action, and heart.
Dowling positively murders a double-page splash in this book, too. That scene, which shows how efficient Ben Reilly is when fighting a more common crime, utilizes the phantom Spider-Man effect to show his move incredibly quickly and with great agility from left to right. It’s enhanced with well-placed speed lines on the ground and a highly detailed Spider-Man taking up much of the right side of the page.
The art across the book is great thanks to highly detailed backgrounds and great color by Jesus Aburtov. There are quite a few shots of Spider-Man swinging with a good sense of depth thanks to a subtler color palette of the cityscapes. This helps bring Spider-Man more into focus, but it also aids in creating a sense of depth and distance. The city really looks alive and, at the risk of sounding cliche, another character in the story.
Outside of the city swinging is the action which has a heightened sense of the dramatic. There are well-drawn angles on every punch or dodge by Spider-Man and a killer introduction of the main villain. We’re only privy to about half of the action scene — the rest will take place in the next issue — yet a lot happens and Spider-Man takes on some real battle damage.
The issue is also tender, with lighting in a key scene as Ben speaks truths to Peter, creating a halo effect that’s sweet and tender. So often these scenes can feel melodramatic or overly done, but here it takes its time by offering a bit of quiet and contemplation. Seeing Ben wring his mask as he speaks adds a layer to his emotional state that is honest and true to the scene. Peter has seemingly only been in a coma for a few days, but you can get a sense of the weight on Ben in this scene thanks to the well-written dialogue and how the scene plays out.
Any faults with the issue are general faults with sequential serials storytelling. The opening mystery has no payoff, for instance, and you’ll need to read every issue of this Beyond Corporation era to understand what is going on. Fans who liked Nick Spencer’s “Hunted” storyline will also likely be dying for answers around his return.
Amazing Spider-Man #79 goes hard with the amount of story it’s delivering, varying ideas, and well-written character threads. This is as good as it gets in superhero comics with heart, action, and pure entertainment.
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