[Comic Review] Meta Powers — The Amazing Spider-Man #8

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Last review, I mentioned it was fitting that Ms. Marvel was teaming up with Spider-Man.

Now, after reading The Amazing Spider-Man #8, it’s obvious that the appearance of Marvel’s new darling wasn’t just a coincidence. Christos Gage litters issue #8 with nods to various complaints over Silk’s costume and Spider-Woman’s covergate along with references to medical ad disclaimers and Taylor Swift. It’s clear Gage is cognizant of what’s happening outside in the real world, and the pairing itself hearkens back to the Marvel Team-Up Featuring Spider-Man issues that ran for a decade and spawned several other series.

In The Amazing Spider-Man #8, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel fight off the suped-up Dr. Minerva, a Kree scientist who’s genetically modified herself with terrigenesis cells. Having turned into a giant gargoyle-like monstrosity at the end of last issue, Minerva’s a preview of what could come if her plot to kidnap a new Inhuman isn’t stopped.

Cue superheroics for a whirlwind issue that starts well enough before giving us an unexpected finish that might feel anti-climactic at first.

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And for that, I have to credit Gage for not letting this story go the predictable route. The themes that Dan Slott set up in the previous arc are still in effect with Peter Parker now in the supervillain-reformation business. It’s a cool spin and one that hasn’t been explored much in recent comics, which have largely gone the grim and gritty route. Superheroes have mainly been given a limited number of options when dealing with criminals — kill or imprison.

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The process of rehabilitating criminals seems like a brilliant twist that’s perfectly suited to Parker’s sensibilities — after all, great power and responsibility. Parker’s also a testimonial — his body was inhabited by a nemesis who came to think of himself as a superior superhero. Only by literally walking in Parker’s shoes did Dr. Octavius come to realize Parker was indeed the ultimate Spider-Man.

The rest is history — at least until it’s retconned.

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But themes aside — the ending of issue #8 did seem a little contrived, though it makes plenty of sense. The Learning to Crawl sub-series introduced Clash, an early villain who now reappears in modern continuity. Unable to land a job because of his record, Clayton “Clash” Cole went henching for Dr. Minerva, and thanks to his mad scientist skills, he’s Parker Industries’ newest employee. it’s a happy ending, but I’d like to see what Parker does with villains who don’t have any immediate redeeming features — something future stories will likely discuss.

There’s also the ongoing origin of Silk who’s now out of the Parker residence and living on her own outside of Spider-Man’s shadow. She gets a brand new look that’s nominally better than what she had before — it’s something you’d expect from someone with minimal resources who’s also new to this world.

Last issue’s visual team Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and Antonio Fabela are back, and that’s great news because we don’t have to get re-acclimated to anything.

Camuncoli’s pencils are clean and easy on the eyes for the most part. My only issue is Ms. Marvel’s face. The closeups try to drum up one sort of expression or another, but they all miss the mark either due to being too exaggerated or too generic. It’s the way the whites of Kamala Khan’s eyes sort of take over, and there’s too much detail in the lips — I much prefer Alphona’s younger and more innocent looking Ms. Marvel to Camuncoli’s crazed fangirl.

But everything else is high-quality. Action scenes have a frenetic pace, we get creative camera angles that emphasize Ms. Marvel’s embiggening powers, and there’s a lot going on in each page.

Smith’s inks keep things contained and distinct. There’s plenty of detail and special effects, and the cocoon, which could have been taken for granted, gets enough TLC in the visuals that it becomes a character of its own.

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I’m most impressed by Antonio Fabela’s colors which are vibrant and high-contrast. I love the leveling from the shadows to the highlights. There are steps in the shades that add a lot of visual drama to the panels, and the sticky reds and blues grab at your attention.

Once again, The Amazing Spider-Man #8 carries an Edge of Spider-Verse story — the cover itself features the second story over the main one. The pacing for this issue’s main story felt little rushed, especially towards the end. The end result is a story that might have some bearing on the future, but it feels more like a detour at this point while Spider-Verse takes over. Hopefully, things return to normal next month, whether by Gage or Slott’s hand — and if there was anything immediately major that this issue showed — it’s that Spider-Man’s in pretty capable hands.


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The Amazing Spider-Man #8 (2014)
Marvel
Words: Christos Gage
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Antonio Fabela

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