Well it seems in the hubbub of Secret Wars I completely missed Amazing Spider-Man 18.1. Apologies all sometimes we have to clear the webs out of our brain. Anyways onto the review of one of our last glimpses at the 616 Universe (not chronologically, but in release order).
WRITER: Gerry Conway
PENCILER: Carlo Barberi
INKER: Juan Vlasco
COLORS: Israel Silva
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ARTIST: Yasmine Putri
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Greg Land and Morry Hollowell
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: Our issue begins with a group of leaderless thugs attempting to battle it out for territory. One side still remains true to Tombstone, while the other seems to be simply defending their territory. Black Cat shows up, kicks people in the face, then demands they listen to her. They decide not to listen to her and they walk away. Shortly afterwards the new Crime Master shows up with The New Enforcers. The Crime Master tells Black Cat they will only listen to her if their perspective gang bosses bow down to her. From here we go to Parker Industries where Anna Maria and Peter are discussing morality, and whether someone can be wholly good or wholly evil. Later as Spider-Man swings through the streets thinking about Captain Watanabe he runs into her having a discussion with Mister Negative. Peter lunges for Mister Negative but he quickly disappears in a puff of smoke. Peter warns of the danger of dealing with Mister Negative but Watanabe states he is giving her vital Intel, and that she’ll explain more on the way. The way to where you may ask? Why to the Prison break out that Black Cat is currently attempting. Spider-Man battles The Black Cat, while Watanabe takes on the Enforcers. During the battles Spider-Man and Watanabe get separated leading them to different sections of the prison. The Wraith easily trounces the new Enforcers and when throwing one through a cell door she discovers the ex-Judge hooked up to some medical equipment. The Wraith questions the scared nurse looking after the judge and finds out he had been stabbed in a contract killing. Back with our titular hero we see Peter talk Black Cat into leaving peacefully so he can attempt to save his friend Watanabe. Surprisingly enough she agrees but only after telling him that “this changes nothing”. After a brief conversation with Hammerhead Spider-Man hears a loud bang. Running to check it out the issue ends with a shot of The Wraith holding an Uzi. DUUN DUUN DUUUUN.
STORY: Overall this is a fine issue, even if nothing spectacular occurs. There are a few nice character beats such as Black Cat actually showing a little bit of Human Empathy. Which could hopefully lead to possible redemption down the line. In all honestly I wouldn’t be that surprised if when a writer does try to write off Black Cat’s reign of villainy they don’t just blame Mister Negative. It seems to me that Mister Negative’s importance to the Spider-Man universe is an in-continuity explanation for a character acting evil. I think we’ve all figured out that’s what is happening with the Wraith so it’d be no surprise if he was secretly pulling Black Cat’s strings as well. It was nice seeing Anna Maria acknowledge that she still had feelings for Octavius as well. Otto was a good man to her, and despite the bad things he’s done she’ll always remember him for that. It was also nice to see an adult conversation between Anna Maria, and Peter one without Slott’s usual childish/oafish undertones. They seemed like two adults of equal standing having an interaction.
Another cool element of this story is that we get to see another Crime Master. I always enjoyed the look of The Crime Master and his place in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. Spider-Man had a lot of cool normal Crime Bosses in the early years like “The Big Man” characters who posed more of an intellectual threat to Spider-Man instead of a physical one. Who is this new Crime Master? Probably no one of interest, most likely some wannabe who bought the costume from Hobgoblin, but it’s still cool nonetheless. With the Crime Master comes yet another iteration of the Enforcers. Now while in the modern era they’ve almost always been a joke team, they are written with some seriousness in this issue. Unfortunately despite a cool introduction they are dispatched with ease by The Wraith. But hey if you are going to put in a fun fight scene why not include the first team Spider-Man ever fought.
Other than that however there’s not really a lot to talk about. This issue was action packed, but none of it is really worth digging into at any depth. It was a fine issue but it’s definitely the middle section of an arc, which makes it hard to review out of context. If you are looking for a nice little mystery however I’d recommend you pick it up. The artwork is solid, and the characters are written like you’d expect them to be. I think the ending of this storyline will be the real determining factor as to whether or not it was worth reading. Sincere apologies for the lateness on this review.