It has all been building to this over the last few months as Ben Reilly tries to hold his mind together and Peter Parker attempts to swing back into being Spider-Man after a coma. The Beyond Board writing team has done an exceptional job developing the Beyond Corp, its employees, and head Maxine while throwing Ben Reilly into a thresher of pain and suffering. From the start, he’s dealt with a loss of memory and the uncanny nature of impostor syndrome, literally and figuratively. Can Ben figure things out and can Peter help him? We find out in Amazing Spider-Man #93.
There’s a lot of comic in this finale, running over 40 pages, featuring a few endings, and wrapping up the Beyond Corp, for now. What sets this issue apart is how it pushes Ben’s illness to a new and physical place. Instead of running from his fears and threats, he’s running right at them with a little push from Maxine Danger.
Maxine comes out of the Beyond era as a major player and manufacturer of chaos and pain for our heroes. She expertly manipulates Ben and ends up stronger even with Beyond crumbling around her. Janine is also a strong figure that shows she’s capable of being a hero in her own right.
Spider-Man fans will be excited to know Ben and Peter come to blows as the cover suggests. What elevates this story beyond a fight, however, is the great pain Gleason infuses into Ben. He’s erratic, angry, and not himself. Instead of being depicted as evil, he clearly isn’t himself and needs help.
Patrick Gleason draws the issue with colors by Bryan Valenza and letters by Joe Caramagna. There are some great splash pages showing action with an even scarier melted face imagery from Ben’s perspective. It’s truly haunting what he sees and elevates the empathy you’ll feel for him.
Gleason does some exceptional work with the eyes on the Spider-Man masks, too. They are quite big and expressive with some good reflection work enhancing the showdown between the Spider-Men.
The way this story wraps up relies on some convenient contingencies of Beyond Corp and some made-up science. Science has never been that realistic in Spider-Man or in superhero comics in general, but it reduces the impact of Peter trying to save Ben with time running out. You end up wondering if they went in this direction because they didn’t want to lose any of the main characters.
Wrapping up the book are three endings. The first is titled “Days” by Wells and Sara Pichelli and the second is “Weeks” by Wells and Mark Bagley (and Tim Townsend). The first story enhances the tragic direction they’re going with Ben while setting up Peter’s blessed life. Peter certainly deserves it, but the second story shows Parker has the worst luck while also setting up a mystery for the next story arc.
The third ending is titled “Months” and appears to be drawn by Gleason. It’s a huge twist that was hinted at in the “Days” backup. There are going to be some mixed feelings over this cliffhanger, especially since it involves a new costume design that’s pretty neat and supernatural.
Amazing Spider-Man #93 ends the five-month-long Beyond era with fewer conclusions and more new threads to develop. That’s not a bad thing, but it does make this more of a transition issue than a satisfying conclusion. There are a lot of good pieces that came out of this story and Ben Reilly ends up being a far more tragic character than even Peter Parker. For that reason, this issue and its ending are about as close to what Spider-Man comics are about as you can get, right down to an accidental transformation.
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