Amazing Spider-Man #25
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, Kev Walker, Patrick Gleason, Cliff Rathburn, Victor Olazaba, Dexter Vines, Nathan Fairbain, Edgar Delgado, Dave Stewart and Laura Martin
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run gets a handsome, but oddly constructed 25th issue. Picking up directly after the finale of “The Hunted,” Spencer splits the narrative across two fronts. On one hand we pick up with Spider-Man’s continued search for Curt Conners, while on the other, we get a charming girl’s night out with Mary Jane and Carlie Cooper, one interrupted by the new female Electro.
The latter plot provides the issue a real grounded energy, exploring Mary Jane’s quest for direction and exactly what she gets up to all those times Peter is late for dates. Spidey’s A-plot is a bit weirder, however. Standing as basically a postscript to “The Hunted,” we are dropped feet-first into the final leg of Spidey’s search, and it doesn’t really connect as well as Spencer wants it to. Though crackling with action thanks to a team of talented artists, Amazing Spider-Man #25 might be better served once it hits the trade.
In case you were unaware, Peter’s life is in shambles again. He was recently trapped in Central Park by Kraven the Hunter with dozens of animal-themed supervillains and forced to fight to the death. And to top it off, new villain Kindred is pulling strings behind the scenes to attack him. That Ol’ Parker Luck, right?
Amazing Spider-Man #25 serves as a sort of epilogue to “The Hunted,” but it’s reliance on the previous arc fails it a bit. For one thing, Nick Spencer has to continually refer back to events from “The Hunted” in page. These get a bit of jazziness thanks to Humberto Ramos handling them, carefully inserting them throughout Spidey’s fight-focused quest. But even with the flashbacks, there is no real weight to this. We know that Peter is running on fumes and has to fight a whole hallway full of self-replicating robots, but the emotion Spencer wants just isn’t there. It almost reads like a few pages cut from a previous issue.
The B and C plots of Amazing Spider-Man #25 improve the experience, however. As Peter fights for Connors’ “soul,” we get a nice twist on the Mysterio cliffhanger from last issue, which finally gives Kindred some real teeth along with their name reveal. But it’s the B-plot involving Mary Jane and Carlie Cooper where Spencer finally finds the heart he was searching for with his Peter/Curt scenes. Though a whole different set of themes, Mary Jane’s angst is centered around her listlessness and regret at not continuing her career as an actress, and it is engaging stuff. Made even more so by Ryan Ottley’s close-up staging and expressive character models.
Speaking of Ottley, he gets a chance to display both his knack for action and emotion here in Amazing Spider-Man #25. Aided by guest artists Kev Walker, Ramos, and Patrick Gleason, Ottley bounces back and forth between the fisticuffs of Peter’s battle and the drama of Mary Jane and Carlie’s night well. The fight itself loses a little bit of steam in some parts due to Ottley’s pinched scene construction — one scene in particular makes Spider-Man look a lot like Flat Stanley - but Ottley doing action is still nothing to scoff at. His layouts thankfully ease up a bit for the better in the Mary Jane scenes, however. Instead of tight punches and kicks, Ottley switches to broader, more cinematic layouts, more focused on the women’s state of mind and reactions. It is a really neat contrast for the issue.
Though a bit disjointed, Amazing Spider-Man #25 is not without its charms. It sets up the next arc well, using a few great guest artists to do so. It even sees the potential in Mary Jane-led stories. Unfortunately, as a single issue, this story just never completely coalesces, depending too much on the previous narrative of “Hunted.” Despite its murderer’s row of talent on the credits page, as far as milestone issues go, Amazing Spider-Man #25 doesn’t quite deliver the weight its hefty page count might promise.