29th May2020

‘The Amazing Spider-Man #43’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Nick Spencer | Art by Ryan Ottley | Published by Marvel Comics

It’s been a good couple of months since I picked up a Marvel book, with the obvious fall in both books being put out by Marvel and by real world distribution issues related to Covid-19. DC have been stealing a march on Marvel by really throwing themselves into digital, with an impressive slate already, whereas Marvel has been cobbling together some collections and specials just to keep some sort of presence. Well, now a few monthlies are creeping back out again, and I find myself picking up this title, One I have not read in a long time. To be truthful, on the fence with this one.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Spidey fan, and I have an almost complete 1980’s run of Amazing Spider-Man, which still ranks up there with the best. I’ve found a lot since to be a little patchy, with some very obvious misfires, and the best Spider-Man stories for me of the last decade have tended to be one-off’s or specials. Dan Slott did some good stuff too. So why am I on the fence? In two words, Nick Spencer. I’ve yet to read anything from Nick Spencer I’ve really liked. Marvel clearly love him, or at least certain Editors seem to, but I’ve found his stuff ranges from ok to not so ok. I know why Marvel have him on this book, because they think he’s humorous, and Spidey needs those one-liners to really shine. Still, I’m a reasonable guy so let’s take a look.

Obviously I wasn’t around for the previous issue, but a handy recap at the beginning of this issue tells me that Spider-Man has teamed up with Boomerang to try and get hold of something called the Lifeline Tablet, before Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, gets his big mitts on it. It had a guardian, however, called Gog, a shape changing monster, although it seems not quite as monstrous as one would assume. Actually, put that to one side until later, as we actually open with a gigantic Gog fighting Spidey and Boomerang in the sewers of New York. You can probably guess the mayhem, which culminates with Gog’s head smashing through to the surface. Spidey is seriously overmatched and is relying on help from Boomerang. And Wilson Fisk. Fisk these days is a semi-legitimate Kingpin, doubling up as Mayor of New York. He’s pitched up with plenty of guns, tanks and helicopters. Gog’s going down.

Then he’s not. Something doesn’t sit right with Peter over the heavy artillery attacks on Gog, with shades of King Kong here, as he realises Gog is not malicious just confused. He manages to shrink Gog back down in size, using Pym Particles originally used on Gog in the past. So, what can Peter do with a creature than can grow to huge size and destroy loads of real estate? Why, take it in as a house pet. Yep, Nick Spencer wraps this issue up by having Peter adopt Gog as his pet, albeit with an inhibiting collar to prevent any sneaky size changes in the future.

So, my verdict? My opinion of Spencer has not changed I’m afraid. I find his humour too obvious, too forced, and his style of writing too simplistic and lightweight. I get that Spidey is meant to be an upbeat book, but Peter adopting a monster as a pet? Not sure about that one. I don’t think Spencer’s a bad writer in the sense he knows what we wants to do and does that well, but I just find that what he does is lacking. I couldn’t score an issue like this better than average. The art, by Ryan Ottley, was a good fit for both the character and the often frenetic fight scenes, and no complaints there. A little of the ‘all-ages’ feel about the art but decent enough.

For me, the pay off at the end was the whole reason for the bit that came before it. It feels like Spencer had the ‘monster as pet’ bit, and it just took us 18 pages to get there. OK overall, but Spider-Man is better than this.

*** 3/5


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