The end of a series that will infuriate future collectors attempting to locate Amazing Spider-Man #20 is finally here. Does it live up to Conway’s stories of years past, or does it all amount to a resounding sigh throughout fandom. Read on and find out.
WRITER: Gerry Conway
PENCILER: Carlo Barberi
INKER: Juan Vlasco
COLORS: Israel Silva
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ARTIST: Yasmine Putri
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: Chaos has erupted in New York City, Super Powered Goons, and would be crime bosses are robbing the city dry. Spider-Man is swinging throughout the city stopping all the crimes he can, while searching for The Wraith and Mr. Negative. After a short interaction with The Black Cat (where he nonsensically refuses to fight back) we cut to the offices of Mr. Negative. Negative is having a meeting with his Inner Demons remarking on how well his plan to throw the city into chaos is going. The Wraith shows up and tells Negative that she intends to kill him for all that he has done. While fighting the Inner Demons Wraith is interrupted by Spider-Man who tries to convince her to come back to the side of the light. She promptly refuses and runs out to the streets to attack a fleeing Mr. Negative. Mr. Negative turns a crowd of people into his slaves and they proceed to surround Wraith. Spider-Man saves Wraith, but decides she has finally gone to far and after a brief fight he immobilizes her. Then Spider-Man punches out Mr. Negative and the whole city goes back to peace. The comic ends with Yuri Watanabe standing on a rooftop after escaping the webbing clutching the mask of the Wraith in her hand and staring into the night.
STORY: So this is it folks…the end of Spiral. A book that was written entirely based on Conway coming up with Spider-Man’s final speech. When you look at what the entire series was building up to, and how it finally culminates I can’t help but give out a sigh. The book has ramifications only to the Wraith who after this mini-series will no doubt be set up as yet another Anti-Hero (because GOD knows Marvel needs more Anti-heroes). Every other character in this series comes out almost exactly how they entered. Spider-Man just learnt that their is evil within everyone? This is not a big change for Peter Parker, or Spider-Man. HE KNOWS THIS. He was just Mind-swapped for a year, not to mention countless other stories the most pivotal of which were written by Conway himself. No one is going to write the character of Peter Parker any differently after reading this issue.
Lets examine the Wraith character for a second because truly its the only thing you can analyse. She comes from a background of corrupt cops, but fought all her life to be a good cop proving that corruption wasn’t genetic. Suddenly upon seeing her partner die she becomes so completely and utterly enraged that she forgoes all of her principles to give into her dark side. So the message is what? Corruption is genetic? We all have a dark side? One mistake leads to ruin? Its unclear what we are really supposed to take away from this story. Its not really a fall from grace because Watanabe wasn’t really a character anyone cared about before this issue, and she wasn’t in a particularly great spot in her life to begin with. After this storyline the character is sure to fall into obscurity only to be brought back in two years touted as a big return and have all of this story completely forgotten. This series really shows one of the downsides of serialized story telling. In a similar vein its worth noting the appearance of White Rabbit in this issue. This is the third time White Rabbit has appeared in a year, and each time she appeared prior to this one she has been apprehended meaning that in a single year White Rabbit has broken out of prison 3 times. Its far more likely however that no one paid attention to White Rabbits whereabouts and decided to just throw her in to occupy some space on the page.
As far as writing goes there are a lot of deliberately expository statements that feel right out of the 70s. Spider-Man explaining who Mr. Negative is strikes as a particularly peculiar statement. No human thinks like this, and this being PART 5 of a miniseries I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s not a lot of brand new readers picking this story up. Exposition like this should all be confined to the first page of the story as it just comes off as insanely clunky when you put it into dialogue.
This entire story shoe horned in a plethora of classic Spidey foes who for the most part haven’t shown up a lot in recent years. However their appearances amount to nothing, and they are relegated to simple mcguffin’s serving no real purpose to the plot. Every bady in this series asides from Mr. Negative could have easily been swapped out for someone else and the story would have been identical.
ART: Yet again the art is what saves this from being a complete waste of time. The series as a whole has a very consistent tone, and art style which does give it a few points in my book.
OVERALL: A series that is best read only by die hard Spidey fans only who need to give into their web-head cravings.