I am a blank canvas (Amazing Spiderman #80 Review)
Writer Cody Ziglar
Artist Michael Dowling
Color Artists Jesus Arburtov & Erick Arciniega
Letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna
It has been too long since we last spoke dear readers. I hope you all have had a wonderful year and prospered when I was gone. As some of you know, I was reviewing mainly Batman related pieces and honestly, I needed not only a change in scenery but one in the mood too.
That being said, TASM is another childhood love of mine. Despite having not read much of him in a very long while, I was elated to get my hands on this series!
We last left off in TASM with Peter in intensive care and bedridden due to special circumstances. During this time, Ben Reilly has taken the mantle of Spiderman with the help and consignment of the Beyond Corporation. The mantle came at a cost though, placing a target on his back. Aimed at by every rogue Peter has thwarted. Disillusioned with all the red tape from Beyond, Ben had gone off the grid. While there, he was attacked by Kraven the hunter, who had just shot him with a few of his famously drugged poison darts.
The issue begins with Ben tripping so hard he is literally melting. Having an existential crisis while Kraven orates one of his famous monologues, this one is much more anti-capitalist than what I personally am used to. Ben attempts to flee to no avail, Kraven hot on his trail. Sending Ben into a spiral resulting in Ben falling off of a skyscraper flat onto his back. He awakens in an unfamiliar place with his wounds patched up. Greeted by what I would call his animal spirit guides.
I really liked how this issue plays out, Ben finds himself asking the hard questions. Referring to himself as an empty husk despite being in the mantle of the friendly neighborhood spider. This is a question that feels fueled by the overall reception Ben tends to receive from people who generally have no interest in actually reading the character. Kraven is a whole menace as always and brings the intensity needed for this all to come to the climax.
The artwork for this issue is out of this world. Swapping from trippy melting spidey suits to flaming heads to spirit guides and everywhere in between. Flashing reality at strategic points to keep the audience aware of what’s actually going on.
The plot in this one is very simple, yet very dense. In the best way, it has Ben address his own self doubts and confront them head on, something that I think will make him a much better character in the issues to come. The internal and external conflict he faces perfectly packages his impending growth in a way that is both relatable and completely off the rails at the same time.
Summary This issue was a great one to dive into for me. Ben ponders who he really then comes out the other side more certain than he has ever been. A wonderful way to help him grow. He always was more than just a Peter copy, but now we all know it for certain. With art to reflect how turbulent these revelations were, I'm excited to see more from this team in the next TASM.