“You don’t look like a Ned.”
Ganke stands revealed as Ned!!! Oh, Black Cat makes a move and Miles and Rio try and talk things out, too.
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Oscar Bazaldua
COLOR ARTIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERING: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER ART: Patrick Brown
TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Idette Winecoor
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Black Cat and Hammerhead raid one of Mr. D’s warehouses, effectively declaring war. Miles and Rio meet in the park, with Rio still trying to come to terms with the revelation of his dual identity. Frustrated that his mom once again left upset, Miles goes out web-slinging that night, stopping a mugging and chasing the perpetrator into a bar. A brawl breaks out and Miles definitively wins. Danika and Ganke hang out, with Danika insisting she needs some name to call him since he won’t tell her his real one, in an effort to protect Miles. Ganke decides on Ned (probably because there is a movie coming out real soon with a Spidey who has a best friend that loves Legos).
THOUGHTS: Returning cover artist Patrick Brown has a little more to do this month with a solid cover that has nothing to do with what happens within, but would fit in perfectly with some colored bars on the side if this title was still Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s a friendly, neighborhood type of cover that gets the job done.
Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny! Hammerhead uses his, er, head to boldly makes his entrance, calling to mind Jack Nicholson in The Shining. New regular artist Oscar Bazaldua, presumably filling in for Pichelli as she crafts Spider-Men II, provides pretty snazzy entrances for the new devilish duo of Hammerhead and Black Cat. Once again for the record, I don’t care for Felicia returning to her larcenous ways, but it’s the card we’ve been dealt, Spider-Fans, and Bendis provides lighthearted, whimsical humor to the scene as Black Cat makes her decrees to Mr. D’s terrified underlings. By the time the warehouse gets destroyed, Bazaldua makes Felicia look like the cat that’s about to eat the proverbial canary.
In contrast to last issue, where secrets were hidden inside and kept in shadow, this time we find Miles and Rio in the light and out in the open. Also in contrast, Rio is in a far better place to have a conversation and ask questions now that the shock of betrayal is starting to subside. Bazaldua provides a nice balance to his layouts with two well-designed two page spreads during their talk. It’s a bit harder to notice if you read digitally, but I still picked up on it in my second read-through. His Miles at times does seem slightly younger than how Pichelli has been rendering him as of late, but it by no means detracts from the story being told.
Rio’s admission is just heartbreaking. Bendis and Bazaldua really let you into her head, from her expressions of disbelief, shock, and quiet hurt. Her entire world isn’t what she knew and even though I don’t believe Miles and Jefferson view her in a negative way, she doesn’t see it that way. Them keeping secrets from her makes her feel less-less of a wife, a mother, an intelligent human being. She’s been afraid of something like this all her life and now that it’s come to pass, I can’t blame her for still feeling like she has to run off to emotionally protect herself.
Miles takes this encounter and continues to brood until he decides to vent by going on patrol, ignoring his friends’ reminders that there is a test tomorrow. For a while, Bendis has told, not shown about this darkness within Miles. He finally starts to show it as Miles chases a mugger into Romita’s bar. Which Romita, Sr. or Jr., is up for you to decide, but once Spidey gets inside, he lets loose on the patrons. Once again in contrast to last issue, we get four pages of Miles letting his anger out in a fight, compared to the action being practically off panel as it wasn’t important in #15. Only once everyone has been taken down, does Miles take a step back and take in the carnage he has unleashed in a two page splash. Not only is he shocked (as is the reader), but there are even people cowering in the corner.
With all the drama out of the way, Bendis closes the issue out with a lighter scene between Danika and Ned. I mean, Ganke. I’m not sure if he’s trying to be funny, or “poke the bear” here. Honestly, I laughed, but the emerging grumpy old man in me kinda wanted to roll his eyes, too. Either way, I think Ned/Ganke may have himself a girlfriend!
This issue may not have blown me away, but it moved a lot of plots forward and had some good character beats. Bazaldua shows a lot of promise and I look forward to what he does on this title!
MY GRADE: B
JAVI’S HUH?: Danika seems to be going to the same school and the savvy YouTuber can’t figure out a way to uncover Ganke’s name?