The Lifeline Tablet storyline wraps up, not with a bang, but a thud. Inconsistent artwork hampers this overwritten story, leading up to a cliffhanger that falls flat. At least a few loose ends are tied up in this extra issue.
The quest to collect the pieces of the Lifeline Tablet comes to a close, but who will be holding the super-powerful artifact when all is said and done? Will it be the Kingpin? Boomerang? Spider-Man? Does anyone care? All of these questions are answered in Giant-Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom.
I do wonder why we needed an oversized one-shot to wrap up this storyline instead of just doing it in Amazing Spider-Man. This is not the first time Marvel has pulled a move like this either. The extra pages don’t really add all that much either. Chunks of them could have been cut too. Did we need to see the Pro-Spider Slayers from Threats & Menaces and the property damage they caused? No. They were a gag that got played for a little too long.
Speaking TnM, the suit they gave Spidey met its end too. We all knew that was going to happen sooner or later because this is about the millionth time the wall-crawler has changed his costume, but it feels so lackluster here.
I do like how excited JJJ is in this issue. Letterer Joe Caramagna makes it clear the guy is putting on a show. He’s loving the spotlight, soaking in all this attention. He’s like a ring leader in a circus.
What struck me about most of this issue is how reflective it is. Writer Nick Spencer delves into Peter Parker’s mind as he second guesses himself a bit. After everything he’s been through recently, he’s forced to wonder if he has what it takes to be a hero in the first place. Has he earned that title?
This also plays into the relationships with others in the space, such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. They call him out for taking the loner idea too far. They’re his friends and he’s not acting very friendly. This spoke to me personally too as it’s something very easy to relate to, not just in the wake of the pandemic, but as an adult. It’s hard to make new friends and maintain friendships the older you get. This kind of reflection is where Spencer really excels.
The whole Lifeline Tablet story though, does not have the same effect. It feels like it’s gone on forever with no real stakes. Fisk has been trying to get his hands on this thing for no real reason. We never dug into his motive or anything. Just like Kindred, there’s no investment in this. The big twist at the end of this issue falls super flat too. It deals with a character that no one has cared about in decades so instead of ending with a jaw-dropping moment, it’s more of a “so what?” kind of cliffhanger.
The artwork in Giant-Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom is rather uneven. That’s not surprising as Roge Antonio, Carlos Gomez, and Ze Carlos all contributed pencils. This creates a jarring reading experience as we bounce from one style to another without warning. They don’t mesh well, so we’ll go from some tight linework to some looser forms with a turn of the page.
Alex Sinclair’s color work is more consistent, playing up the darker tones of the night and the sewer tunnels where a large chunk of the story takes place. While the story itself didn’t make the severity of the situation clear, we understand what’s at stake thanks to the colors used. You understand how Spider-Man has shouldered this burden, adding even more to the baggage he’s already carrying around.
The one saving grace with Giant-Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom is that it seems to wrap up a couple of dangling plot threads like the Lifeline Tablet and whatever was going on with Boomerang. It does start a new one with the finale, but as mentioned above, it feels like a dud before it even gets started. This run of Amazing Spider-Man has been fueled by nostalgia. That can be a good thing in some instances, but in this case, it’s more obscure, like you need to read hundreds of issues of this series to understand or care about any of this.