Review: ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #56 Neuters Kindred In Favor Of Old Norman
by James Ferguson
I keep reading this hoping we’ll get some sort of closure for the many plot threads hanging out there and it just never happens.
Kindred unleashed his final attack on Spider-Man with the Order of the Web and Mary Jane nearby only to get captured by Green Goblin and Kingpin. What do these two villains have up their sleeves? What happened after the big explosion at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #55? What the heck does Kindred want?
Needless to say, there are still quite a few questions heading into Amazing Spider-Man #56. You’d think with extra issues in “Last Remains” that we’d get at least a few answers, but that’s not how this arc or this series has rolled. What is particularly strange with this chapter is that writer Nick Spencer essentially ret-cons his own work. Remember all that time we spent with the Sin-Eater? Literally none of that matters. Every single thing that guy did has been put back to normal.
The plan that Green Goblin and Kingpin enact is perhaps the most complicated setup I’ve seen in recent memory. Spencer jumps through so many hoops to get Kindred in this one spot and none of it seems necessary. With all the action and excitement we could have, we instead get a bunch of folks standing around and talking, trying futilely to explain what the heck is going on.
In wrestling terms, Kindred is buried in Amazing Spider-Man #56. He has been built up as this absolute monster for two years and he’s sidelined by the Green Goblin and Kingpin in a squash match. Instead of putting over new talent, Spencer is going with the same old villains.
It’s not all same old though. There is an interesting dynamic with Norman at play here. Artist Mark Bagley illustrates a fantastic transformation for the character, going from the conniving Goblin personality to a humble, repentant father. Bagley captures this change in Norman’s facial expressions over the course of a few panels and it’s perfect. If the Sin-Eater’s deeds were negated and everyone’s sins and powers went back, Norman can’t be genuine here…right?
Inkers Andrew Hennessy and John Dell capture the creases in Norman’s furrowed brow perfectly here. You can see the weight of the world weighing this man down through the wrinkles on his face. This contrasts well with the other more youthful characters.
Much of this issue takes place in the bowels of Ravencroft. Colorists Rachelle Rosenberg and Edgar Delgado provide a sterile palette, like that of a laboratory or hospital. It’s funny that Norman’s emotional outpouring comes in such a space.
One cool detail in Amazing Spider-Man #56 comes in how Bagley differentiates the flashbacks from the present. The panels in the past have rounded corners while the others have more traditional right angles.
There’s an attempt to humanize Kindred a bit in this issue. Letterer Joe Caramagna maintains the monstrous voice of the character despite this, using scratchy word balloons. Honestly, at this point, I would love even the smallest bit of an answer as to how Harry Osborn turned into this demonic entity or why he’s doing any of this. We can make some guesses based on the references to “One More Day” but absolutely nothing has been done to flesh Kindred out as a character so he’s just this force of nature.
Amazing Spider-Man continues to walk in place, refusing to move the story forward even an inch. If anything, we took a few steps back with this issue. Even more new things are added in without wrapping up any of the many plot threads that are still flailing around. I keep reading this series hoping we’ll get some sort of closure and I’m left hanging every single time.
Amazing Spider-Man #56 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.