Saturday, October 3, 2015

Amazing Spider-Man #20.1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Man, Conway has really told a great classic Spider-Man story here.  I could rave about it in a lot of detail, but I think that it's all probably best experienced as a reader.

I want to talk about two parts in particularly, though.  First, I loved how well Conway really "gets" Peter.  Peter realizes that he's turned a blind eye to Felicia and Yuri's descent into darkness because he had too much faith that they would eventually correct their course.  One of my main complaints about authors writing Spider-Man is that they portray him as excessively naive.  After spending the better part of his life as a costumed hero, he has to understand how the world works, even if he tries to see the good in everyone.  Conway essentially operationalizes that here.  He's more excessively optimistic, if you will, and he's aware that it's a problem.  Naive people generally are incapable of seeing the darker side.  Peter does, even if he doesn't like it.  It's a great insight into him as a character, and it takes someone like Conway to realize tease out that part of him.

Second, Conway also lets characters change.  Felicia and Yuri at this point are full-time villains.  Whereas Slott played with the idea that they could be redeemed, Conway functionally moves them beyond redemption here.  It's rare to see in comics.  The best recent example of it is the years-long process of Cyclops becoming a villain in the X-Men, and this evolution has been so well received because of the effort that Marvel put into making sure each step of that process made sense.  We haven't quite gotten that with Felicia, since her fury at Peter still strikes me as something that Slott manufactured.  But, Conway manages to right the ship, making it clear that Felicia is doing what she wants to do, as is Yuri.  The evolution of both characters feels totally organic, and Peter's rogues' gallery just got a lot more dangerous.

In other words, I'm a fan.  I miss this sort of story, where Peter actually reflects on his role as a costumed hero, and I hope that its reappearance inspires similar ones in the future.  The entire series is a solid read, even if (actually, particularly if) you're a casual fan.

**** (four of five stars)

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