Amazing Spider-Man #25 Review

by Charles Martin on July 10, 2019

Amazing Spider-Man #25 Review
"Opening Night"
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencillers: Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Patrick Gleason & Kev Walker
Inkers: Cliff Rathburn, Victor Olazaba, Dexter Vines, Patrick Gleason & Kev Walker
Colourists: Nathan Fairbairn, Edgar Delgado, Dave Stewart & Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Todd Nauck
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

Writer: Keaton Patti
Artist: Dan Hipp

Publisher: Marvel Comics

I seem to be in a TV-centric mood this week, so the best way to kick off my review of this plus-sized parcel of Spider-product is to quote from The Good Place, my favourite ongoing sitcom:

"I've come to really like frozen yogurt. There's something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it."

It's very human, very Marvel-ous, and very apt for the Amazing Spider-Man, the title that constantly challenges you to pay more for more Spider-story than you really want or need.

There's a delicious core at the center of this Spider-stravaganza, and it's surprising in both its content and execution. There are about 25 pages in here that prove "Mary Jane guest-starring Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley" might be one of the all-time-great "could have been" Spider-books.

When Pete's a no-show for a theatre date to see Galactus: The Musical, MJ has to team up with Carlie Cooper and save an old acting rival from a murderous ransom scheme orchestrated by the new, female Electro.

Spidey is busy tying up loose ends by saving Dr. Connors from his own kill-bots. In the meantime, MJ does a spectacular job saving the day by herself, playing to her strengths and rediscovering her passion for acting.

It's a beautiful story in both art and writing. MJ gets to speak a heartfelt soliloquy, but the part of the script that truly wowed me was the scrupulous array of Chekov's guns hung on the wall in preparation for MJ's victory. Her plan for foiling Electro is brilliant, logical, and as artfully foreshadowed as an O. Henry story.

Some of the additional material in the A story builds meaningfully on MJ's turn in the spotlight. Kindred and Mysterio are hooked into her future in a promising way.

But the A story has space for a lot more - too much more. Electro being recruited into a new, all-female villain squad feels superfluous. Peter rededicating himself to the study of science for the mo-jillionth time, likewise. And Kindred's other plan - to strike at Pete by attacking his associated spider-people - gets off to a questionable start.

The B story feels similarly gratuitous. It's not actually disappointing, and Rachelle Rosenberg has a blast bringing a colour-themed villain to life, but it just doesn't make itself feel like essential reading. If we had the ability to pick and choose our Spider-stories by the strip rather than by the issue - and adjust our spending accordingly - "Team-Up" would be consigned to bargain-bin limbo.

The C story brings things to a strong finish by subjecting the core tenets of Spidey's story to Keaton Patti's satirical bot-summarization. Dan Hipp's sugar-sweet "Sunday funny" art adds considerably to the charm factor. Wrapping it up in a compact, self-contained ball is another point in its favour; this is the good sort of backup content.

This issue slaps me in the face yet again with my long-standing objections to the Amazing Spider-Man. They have little to do with the storytelling, which lives up (at least in part) to the highest standards. But the publishing decisions! 

This is a "celebration" of a true nothing of a "milestone." It's sooo hard to reach #25 when you're using the company's strongest brand and publishing issues faster than fish lay eggs. What Marvel is celebrating here is the inexplicably persistent ability of the "Amazing Spider-Man" title to separate readers from an unconscionable amount of money.

There's also a question of sunk costs in terms of creative horsepower. That "murderer's row" of artistic talent roped into the A story sure is impressive - and they do produce great work. But how many other great stories could they be telling if ASM were a less-rapacious beast? If Marvel's flagship title weren't so grotesquely bottom-heavy, would there be room on the top shelf for two more gorgeously-illustrated monthly titles? Three? More?

Amazing Spider-Man #25 delivers a whole lot of nicely-drawn pages in exchange for your eight bucks. Some of them are even devoted to a tightly-scripted MJ story. There's still stuff worth reading in this title - but not worth paying for at the ruinous rate Marvel is pumping it out. Our recommendation: Follow ASM via more cost-effective means than shelling out for too-big, too-frequent floppy issues one at a time.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The C story is a goldmine of lovably broken lines: "With great power comes great power."