The cover to The Amazing Spider-Man #10 has had fans talking for months due to the appearance of an alive Gwen Stacy. Not only does this cover suggest a significant reunion, but should make Spider-Man fans nervous as it opens pandora’s box. Would series writer Zeb Wells dare mess around with the classic love interest that changed Spider-Man forever? The answer is a little bit yes and a little bit no.
The Amazing Spider-Man #10 is an A.X.E.: Judgment Day tie-in issue effectively explained in the first few pages. A Celestial god has risen and has set out to judge every human on Earth – and judge them all collectively on top of that. So far, we’ve seen the Celestial appear as a 50-story Celestial to some while also appearing as familiar folks. In the case of Gwen Stacy, it’s the latter. Well, that’s not 100% true, but it is valid for 95% of this comic.
As an event tie-in, Wells and guest artist Nick Dragotta utilize the judging theme to show how pure of heart Peter is, like how he checks in on friends and even helps a friend pick out a tux with doomsday looming. The problem is the reader already knows Peter is pure at heart, so it’s no surprise he visits those close to him and doesn’t mind doing it. That makes the issue predictable, although it is nice to see him check in on a few folks.
Always lingering around him is Gwen Stacy, who Peter figures out is the Celestial early on. Only he can see her, which is a curious oddity that follows him around. This oddity is also happening to others, like Ms. Marvel, who works with Peter now, and she has her own invisible person judging her too. That’s a fun wrinkle, which ties into the cliffhanger that seems to suggest Green Goblin has his connections to Gwen, however disturbed it might be.
Dragotta draws a great Peter, who has all kinds of empathetic qualities in his face alone. He’s a bleeding heart humanist, hugely important to an issue where he doesn’t suit up as Spidey much. He’s good at making Norman Osborn look positively psychotic in a single panel, and calculating in the next. There’s a wide range of emotions going on in this book, making the non-superhero stuff work.
I will say this, though: if you’re expecting a significant surprise from Norman, think again. I don’t know how often creators will think it’ll work, but seeing him yo-yo from good to bad and good again is getting tiresome. This series laid some groundwork to show he’s turned another leaf with a slight sense of danger looming at the corner of his eye, but the end of this issue confirms this villain will return to the green costume sooner than later. To be expected, but too soon, given he was absolved of sins recently.
I also hate to keep beating a dead horse on this one, but the larger mystery seems so far away since it was first teased I’d be surprised if fans care at all that Spider-Man did. It was a big hook with a lot of promise, but the monthly narrative doesn’t seem interested in resolving or even teasing it further. It doesn’t help the last issue was a Hellfire Gala tie-in, either.
A few thematic problems going on in this issue too. Starting with the event itself, we’ve seen Peter fight and maybe even die fighting the Celestial. Seeing him in this issue confused and asking questions is a bit perplexing. There’s also Gwen, who eventually gets around to telling Peter how she feels. Hugely important in the grand scheme of things, having this intimate moment with Peter in a tie-in issue using some weird random magic seems unfair to the characters. It’s a one-off that’ll likely get forgotten to time, but it’s still a considerable moment relegated to a tie-in.
The Amazing Spider-Man #10 utilizes the function of the big Marvel event to test Peter, even though we all know he’s as pure as heart as they come. It makes for a nice series of reunions for Spider-Man, but ultimately this issue treads water as we await something of importance happening anytime soon.
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