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'Amazing Spider-Man' #14 prepares us for a clone saga playing off classic X-Men tales
Marvel

Comic Books

‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #14 prepares us for a clone saga playing off classic X-Men tales

Your lead-in to ‘Dark Web’ starts with ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #14.

Amazing Spider-Man is the lead-in to this winter’s Marvel event Dark Web, which features Spider-Man’s clone Ben and Jean Grey’s clone Madelyne Pryor teaming up. Zeb Wells heads the event using Amazing Spider-Man #14 to reveal how Ben and Madelyne get into cahoots and their targets. Two spurned characters have found some solace in each other’s similar pain. Dark Web should delight fans looking for a revenge story.

Broken up into four stories, Amazing Spider-Man #14 details how Ben’s wife Janine is dealing with Ben Reilly, now missing all his good thoughts and stuck with all the bad. The second shows us how Ben and Madelyne team up, the third reveals Janine’s role in all of this, and finally, the fourth gets the diabolical plan underway. Read together, there’s enough here to understand Ben’s motivations rooted in his pain and desire to become whole again while supplying plenty of demonic imagery and dark magic in which the event will be marinating.

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Season-themed, the first story is titled “Spring” and features art by Michael Dowling with colors by Richard Isanove. As a lead-in, this story takes the realistic and human situation Janine is in and helps us understand how she’d join Ben. She’s reluctant, but loves Ben too much to give up on him, even if his plan could hurt people. Wells utilizes a critical interaction between Janine and a stranger to remind her that ex-cons like herself may have only one path before. The system won’t rehabilitate or accept them, and that’s just enough to think about before she goes all-in with Ben’s plan. The art has a realistic look and feel that suits the lead-in aspect of Janine joining forces with a man filled with rage.

Next is “Summer,” with art by Kyle Hotz and colors by Dan Brown. The art is gorgeous here, leaning into the curves of Ben’s muscles to the demons that populate Madelyne’s Limbo. This story connects the dots between both characters, revealing how Ben uses his intellect to find Madelyne and how the two could ever broker a deal. Madelyne points out her pain is what brought Ben there, which is just enough explanation for things to fall into place. We never really understand what Madelyne is after, but Ben’s rage is clear even if it’s irrational and misguided. There’s an excellent sense of humor in the story as well, but good god stays for the details in the environments of Limbo and its creatures.

Amazing Spider-Man #14

I want all these demons as plushies!
Credit: Marvel

“Fall” is drawn by Terry Dodson with colors by Rachel Dodson, showing how things have developed further between Madelyne and Ben. Janine is on the plans, and while she’s still more level-headed than the two, a significant moment changes her physically and maybe even mentally. There’s a nifty new supervillain costume to check out here–already revealed at SDCC–which leans into the goblin aspect of Spider-Man villains. Art and color have a wholesomeness that’s hard to resist.

The final story, “Winter,” is drawn by Ryan Stegman, with Tim Townsend and JP Mayer on inks and Matt Hollingsworth on colors. The seasonal themes are essential, especially when reading this story since it’s unsaid that the time passing between stories means off-page development. Madelyne has cracked the code on getting Ben’s memories back, even if it’s at the cost of lives. Stegman’s overtly dramatic style suits these moments, and you can’t argue a giant cauldron is a good place for villains to hang out around.

So does this issue work as a prelude to Dark Web? Mostly, yes, but it’s not a slam-dunk. We never know the motivations for most of these characters save for the general goal Ben has, which makes them more like talking heads in a narrative than people. Janine goes through a critical moment that motivates her to change, but it’s still hard to believe she’s willing to back Ben, who is going to an evil place to achieve them. Madelyne’s goals and reasons for working with Ben are also vague, nor is it clear what she’s after. Characters seemingly do things just because, which makes it hard to care one way or the other. Themes around Madelyne and Ben being a clone are slightly touched upon but never probed in a meaningful or interesting way. There are also convenient plot-progressing moments, like Janine running into someone who knows her past or Ben getting hold of a machine to take him to Limbo.

Amazing Spider-Man #14 has just enough detail to give readers a sense of what we’re in store for with Dark Web, but it’s mostly half-baked. The players are present, and how they get together is clear, but the motivations behind their actions and goals remain vague or secret. The creators have stated that it takes inspiration from the Inferno event and Mutant Massacre, which might be why this issue doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man book. I’m optimistic about the upcoming event, but if you’re looking for a deep look at the characters underneath the rage and revenge, you can skip it entirely.

'Amazing Spider-Man' #14 prepares us for a clone saga playing off classic X-Men tales
‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #14 prepares us for a clone saga playing off classic X-Men tales
Amazing Spider-Man #14
Amazing Spider-Man #14 has just enough detail to give readers a sense of what we're in store for with Dark Web, but it's mostly half-baked. The players are present, and how they get together is clear, but the motivations behind their actions and goals remain vague or secret. The creators have stated that it takes inspiration from the Inferno event and Mutant Massacre, which might be why this issue doesn't feel like a Spider-Man book. I'm optimistic about the upcoming event, but if you're looking for a deep look at the characters underneath the rage and revenge, you can skip it entirely.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Every story looks absolutely great
Reveals how Ben and the Goblin Queen team up
Establishes the revenge aspect loud and clear
The motivations seem muddied or vague at best making it hard to care
Plot conveniences here and there
7
Good
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