Spidey pushes himself to the brink once more.
1966’s Amazing Spider-Man #33 may well be the most influential Spider-Man comic ever published. It features that iconic scene where Peter Parker, badly injured and buried under tons of rubble, taps into his deepest reserves of strength and overcomes the impossible. It’s a defining moment that countless writers have tried to recapture in the decades since. Anyone who works on the series for any significant length of time is bound to deliver their own take on that moment. With Amazing Spider-Man #15, Nick Spencer has his opportunity. And this issue is successful in that area, even if it struggles in others.
Where issue #14 was a fairly lighthearted showcase for Aunt May and a handful of Spidey’s rogues, this issue veers in a darker direction as our hero races against time to rescue May and other innocent bystanders from a collapsing building. The same basic framework quickly falls into place – looming danger, a ticking clock and the need for Spider-Man to push past his limits to ensure that those he cares about survive.
This whole sequence boasts the desired emotional effect, though often in spit of the art rather than because of it. There’s the basic problem that Chris Bachalo’s art style is such a drastic departure from what’s come before on this book. Though that’s not the fundamental issue. If nothing else, the darker tone in this chapter plays to his strengths a little better. Bachalo’s storytelling leads to unnecessary confusion and hinders the flow of the plot. For example, an early sequence features Spidey taking out his rage on Taskmaster before returning to the problem at hand. Between the jumbled environment and the overly zoomed in quality of the art, this scene just lacks clarity. That’s a recurring problem with this issue, where figures and environments are either murkily rendered or the panels aren’t given enough breathing room.
There’s another key sequence in this issue that doesn’t quite reach its full potential. In this case, Spidey is confronted by a familiar face and given an emotional wallop. But because Spencer’s script devotes so much energy toward clunkily recapping the history between the two characters, it isn’t able to focus enough on the drama of the scene. It’s all over and done with far too abruptly.
Fortunately, there are some other memorable moments in this issue. Both Spencer and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man writer Tom Taylor are doing great work with Aunt May in 2019. They’re testing her in new ways while also allowing her to take on a more prominent and proactive role in the franchise. The setup for the upcoming “Hunted” storyline is also enjoyable. Now that the series has paid homage to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s “The Final Chapter,” the time has come to offer a fresh spin on Kraven’s Last Hunt next.