Amazing Spider-Man #29 Review

by Charles Martin on September 11, 2019

Amazing Spider-Man #29 Review
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Francesco Manna
Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I don't think I'm a die-hard fan of Nick Spencer's Spider-Man. I can take or leave a lot of the stories, particularly the big ones.

But Nick Spencer's Mary Jane is another matter. Though I might be all "benefits and drawbacks" about this volume's Spidey, I am ride-or-die behind its Mary Jane. And this nearly-standalone issue, which focuses on a Pete's-eye perspective on his relationship with MJ, is some tasty catnip for Mary Jane fans.

Mr. Spencer's script sketches a lovely duality into that Peter-spective. With MJ, he is the supportive boyfriend through and through, shoring up her doubts and encouraging her to grab onto her new acting opportunity with both hands.

But with Aunt May, he uncaps the yawning well of fear and regret dug by hundreds of issues of melodrama and heartbreak. Happy endings just aren't built into the Spider-Man story template -- not permanent ones.

Aunt May's response easily earns the issue's MVP award. She is honest and respectful about the hardships Pete is dwelling on. But she is also eloquent and insightful and powerfully heartwarming about all the things Peter and Mary Jane have done right

The heavy speechifying calls for subtle visual support, and that's precisely what artist Francesco Manna and colourist Carlos Lopez deliver. The strong colours are reserved for the characters at the start; muted backgrounds keep the focus where it should be. Mr. Manna handles changing facial expressions and emotional weight with great skill. His takes on the main characters are excellent; he harmonizes well with the norms of the title but holds onto a positive bit of personal distinction.

The back half of the issue turns darker and more superhero-y thanks to Peter's sorta-sister Teresa needing some spider-help. The art team handles the gear-change admirably, and Mr. Lopez dials up the colour intensity to suit the wham-bam action.

But despite looking great and telling a reasonable story, the Teresa part of the issue is inevitably an interruption. It's explicitly set up that way, of course. When heroic duty derails his relationship plans, Spidey's response is essentially, "There it is. Right on time." 

Without throwing any shade on Teresa or the way her story's told, I think the conclusion that she's playing the role of "generic Spider-interruption 12b" here is inevitable. 

It's ever so slightly disappointing because the balance of the story, the relationship stuff, is also potentially generic. This is hardly Pete and MJ's first dance around the "missed connection" maypole. But sheer storytelling passion brightens up the premise and delivers a satisfyingly novel experience.

A last-minute surprise draws a heavy, memorable line under the bittersweet outcome and ensures that this particular relationship delay is going to come back to haunt Peter and MJ.

This issue pushes Mary Jane temporarily off-stage but gives her a terrific sendoff by carefully exploring what she means to Peter right now. The Spider-Man antics are a touch generic, but if that's a result of concentrating the book's considerable storytelling powers on the relationship content, the trade-off is definitely worth it.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
It feels like the baddy du jour is just recycling a scheme he ran in Spider-Man/Deadpool not that long ago.