Things get dire for Peter Parker and Ben Reilly in very different ways. The creative team comes together to create one of the most intense Spider-Man stories in years, grounded in the mundane, rather than the fantastic.
The Amazing Spider-Man #76 laid all the cards on the table for the “Beyond” era. This is no longer just Peter Parker’s story. Ben Reilly is fully the Amazing Spider-Man now, while Peter’s story heads down a very different path…
Zeb Wells, Patrick Gleason, Marcio Menyz, and Joe Caramagna continue this new era in the aftermath of last issue’s events.
The U-Foes have nearly killed Peter Parker, and Ben Reilly is dealing with the guilt of his reckless actions causing his brother so much harm. Now, Peter is fighting for his life, as Mary Jane and May watch in horror. And Ben? He’s going to shut down the monsters who did this.
This issue quickly improved on the last. It’s half character study and half medical thriller — and that strange mish-mash really worked. Wells shows that Ben still needs to relearn the idea of having great power and great responsibility. His situation isn’t the same as it was when he was Spidey, just before the Onslaught crisis, or when he was the Scarlet Spider in Vegas. Bumbling into a situation carelessly will get more people hurt. Gleason does a great job of showing how Ben internalizes that, and how it’s physically weighing on him.
For Peter though, his poisoning is a fight for his life. Wells shows his impossibly upbeat attitude, but also his amazing support structure. Even though we don’t see it on the page, Aunt May becomes the living embodiment of “$%^# around and find out” when she realizes her son isn’t getting everything he needs. Then things take a turn, and Peter is put in danger. This point is the creative team in lockstep.
Wells has come up with a creative malady unique to Peter: his Spider-sense is detecting danger, and it’s inside his body. That may be causing his body to shut down. It’s horrifying when you realize this is why he’s seizing. Meanwhile, Gleason and Menyz show Peter’s Spider-sense going off in a completely unique way which makes it appear that the power is physically attacking him, with sharp and jagged shapes surrounding him and intense reds filling up the panels. Caramagna’s letters make the dialogue and sounds around the characters nearly audible through how vivid they are visually.
I didn’t expect to enjoy a slightly slower, more transitory issue this much, but it was pretty great. I truly hope it’s an indication of what’s to come.
The Amazing Spider-Man #76 is available now from Marvel Comics.