A Stillanerd Review — Mysterio gets a taste of his own medicine, as his therapist makes him think his demonic new boss is all in his head.
Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 No. 24 (LGY No. 825)
Writer: Nick Specner
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inkers: Mark Morales and Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
“Everyone is a Target — Part 4”
Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Covers: Ryan Ottley and Nathan Fairbairn; Mark Brooks (Marvels 25th Anniversary Tribute variant); Joe Quesada (Marvels 25th Anniversary variant); Olivier Coipel (Spider-Man variant)
As much as we may love comics, they can still be a frustrating, reading experience. It’s especially true if you’re following a series and pick up an issue every two weeks to a month. Most comics, these days, are just one chapter in a longer, self-contained story, but there are certain ones that can completely disrupt your reading pattern. One of these is a comic which teases the next issue, basically making the comic you just bought is only an appetizer for the next issue that you should be buying instead. The latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man falls into that category.
What Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 No. 24 teases, of course, is Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 No. 25, which will also mark the fourth time the series has had a special 25th issue. It also teases the truth behind the mysterious bandaged person who can control centipedes and has taken an interest in Peter Parker. This same figure also claims to be a demon from hell, the same one who apparently brought Mysterio back from the dead, with the implication that there’s a connection between him and the infamous “One More Day,” in which Peter and Mary Jane traded their marriage to Mephisto in exchange for Aunt May’s life.
Yet like most teases, we don’t get a lot of answers about this mystery person. We do get their name, just not their real one. Though it does seem as though he’s the real deal, since he can, apparently, enter and influence Peter’s dreams. Other than that, the comic doesn’t show what we didn’t know about him already. Instead, the comic spends the majority of its page count on his current vassal, the one who’s also the antagonist for the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home, Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio.Credit: Ryan Ottley, Mark Morales, Cliff Rathburn, and Nathan Fairbairn (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 No. 24
It seems after his meltdown in court back in issue No. 1, the fishbowl helmet wearing “master of illusion” has undergone mandatory therapy sessions. Readers are then provided with some backstory on how Beck took his own life in during Kevin Smith’s “Guardian Devil” story from Daredevil, along with how he apparently came back to life. Naturally, Beck’s psychiatrist doesn’t believe a word of this. He suggests that Beck has spent so many years concocting convincing hallucinations that he can no longer tell the difference between reality and fantasy anymore.
Longtime Spider-Man fans will appreciate the irony of this. It was another, and altogether different, Amazing Spider-Man No. 24 in which Mysterio, disguised as a psychiatrist, tried to make Spidey think he was going mad. Moreover, Spencer really plays upon our expectations in the portrayal of Beck’s therapist. There’s an undeniable sinister aspect to him, accentuated even further by the Ryan Ottley’s art, especially from inkers Mark Morales and Cliff Rathburn. By keeping the psychiatrist’s face in almost complete shadow, you can’t help but try to guess as to who he might be, if anyone.
Speaking of the art, this issue should be required reading for future and aspiring illustrators on how to effectively illustrate light and shadow for dramatic effect. In every panel, the inking looks solid, crisp, and sharp, particularly when they’re up against a light source. It reminds me of what an art professor once told me, “Always draw your lights against your darks. The stronger the light, the stronger the dark.” Those panels with Mysterio in the psychiatrist office are a textbook example of that very principle in action.Credit: Ryan Ottley, Mark Morales, Cliff Rathburn, and Nathan Fairbairn (Marvel Comics); from Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 No. 24
And while Mysterio’s fear over the possible loss of his sanity grows, Peter’s fear over losing Mary Jane also looms in the background. The problem, however, is that the previous issue undercut this. His vision of MJ dead on the floor proved to be a fakeout, the mysterious bandaged man narrated that he had no interest in harming her, and it’s MJ. Deep down, we know (or least believe) she’s not in any real danger. Even so, Spencer does an excellent job showing Peter’s growing dread that MJ might die just as they’re starting to rekindle their relationship.
Yes, it’s annoying that Amazing Spider-Man No. 24 is essentially a one-shot interlude between “Hunted” and the 25th issue. At the same time, there’s no question that Spencer, Ottley, and the rest of the creative team put every ounce of effort into making a quality comic. That’s enough of a reason not to regard this issue as a waste of time but as essential reading instead.
Stillanerd’s Score: 4 out of 5