AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #16
Written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado, and Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Kicking off a new arc after the Spider-Verse event, it’s nice to hone in back on what Peter — and just Peter — is up to. This issue opens with a familiar, lighthearted scene: Peter stopping a two-bit criminal (well, this is a strange giant reptilian criminal, but still) in New York City, slinging jokes as well as webs. We’re quickly introduced to important characters in Peter’s life: Aunt May; Anna Maria Marconi, scientist at Peter’s company, Parker Industries, whom he had some relationship drama with; and Sajani, also of Parker Industries.
Dan Slott and Christos Gage, with Humberto Ramos’ wizardry, know how to interplay visual humor with the script: here, Peter waxes about criminals needing “our help! Our understanding! Our compassion!” while he is, in fact, punching criminals. We also meet the central conflict: Parker Industries’ rival for a major deal is Alchemax, a company led by none other than Liz Allan, Peter’s childhood classmate (and crush).
Surprisingly, this issue features a backup story. Black Cat is the main character, and it briefly references new series Silk. I love Black Cat’s outfit here. Ramos, inker Victor Olazaba, and colorist Edgar Delgado give Black Cat a sleek, updated costume with gold shoulder ornamentation and an intimidating-looking razor-sharp chain belt. We learn about Black Cat’s backstory, and it humanizes her: her crimes are not just due to idle aspirations, but from deep-seated hurts and the desire to assuage them. It’s a special treat to have a backup story be as compelling as the main story, and Slott and Gage accomplish that here brilliantly.
The only thing I’m bummed about, and I’m sure this was due to the limited page length, is that Anna Maria Marconi had very few lines, and Sajani could have said more about her aspirations for the company which don’t mesh with Peter’s. Slott and Gage are starting some new world-building: the only things we learn about Alchemax are its Liz Allan connection and her cronies’ willingness to go to extreme measures to get Peter out of the game.
Peter has dealt with a lot of universe-hopping, overtly gruesome threats on his life lately. Now it’s time to see how he handles more subtle challenges closer to home, and this arc-opener delivers the intrigue.
The Verdict: 8.0/10