The Amazing Spider-Man #34
SPIDER-MAN’S HUNT CONTINUES! Who is Peter’s next victim? The penultimate chapter of a story you’ll never forget!
After the visually stunning but lightly plotted issue #33, The Amazing Spider-Man #34 picks up momentum of “Spider-Man’s Last Hunt” with a thematic conceit that’s extremely satisfying and a plot pace that grows increasingly engaging as the strangest aspects of Zeb’s run on the book begin to show their worth and depth. This arc continues to mark a transitionary period for the book, rectifying some of the run’s biggest writing inconsistencies that may turn what was once a mess into gold. While this is a big claim, and many readers may be averse to such a notion, there’s evidence of Wells’ taking the technical criticisms of his work so far and rectifying them to pen a genuinely great arc within the grind-house minutia of his run.
This issue intertwines three different points of view, with Peter acting as a slasher-esque villain the further he descends into the madness of “Norman’s Sins.” Mind you, he isn’t outright murdering anyone, but he is stalking and trailing behind those he deems worthy of his vengeance, such as Kraven and Norman. His demeanor is terrifying, showcasing how unnerving an evil Spider-Man could be without forcing Peter into a situation that would forever stain his character. As for how the book handles its many different character-based narratives, both Wells and Gleason do an excellent job imbuing each section with an equal amount of substance and importance.
The first, and the driving force behind the plot’s movement in this issue, is Norman’s. For readers who’ve been awaiting some sort of logical dissection/answer as to why Peter would dare try to be civil with the man who has done so much damage to his life, you’ll be pleased to finally get some confirmation that presents Peter as being both cautious of Norman, as well as sympathetic, even if that sympathy is coming from a dark and twisted version of Peter’s psyche at the moment. The two share an incredibly intense and emotional scene in this book that only furthers the legitimacy of their newfound relationship further, to the point that reverting Norman back to the Goblin at this point would be as incredibly regressive as selling beloved character growth to a demon. Editorial needs to let this ride out for as long as possible because the tension and stakes that their dynamic has brought to this story and those previous within this run have been one of the foundationally best parts of this rather maligned run thus far.
As for Kraven Junior’s role in this, Wells is giving the clone an identity outside of being a really convoluted retcon that had been done to put “Kraven’s Last Hunt ” back into the bottle from which it came. He spends a massive part of this issue struggling with the innate suicide-doctrine his father’s hunting code had imbued in him, attempting to reclaim the strength in life that his failure in killing Spider-Man significantly erodes. Wells’ appropriation of Kraven’s broken internal monologue from J.M. DeMatteis’ aforementioned classic is used more effectively in this issue than the last. This is due to it having a clear thematic use in this chapter, as opposed to issue #33 where it read more like a shallow attempt to replay the hits.
The third character we follow is Ashley Kafka, her role relatively small when it comes to page count but massive in terms of where this story is going and what the run has been trying to say thematically since Wells’ came onto the book back during the Beyond initiative. While I won’t spoil what her role is in the issue, it revolves around the now omnipresent theme of redemption, growth, and the perseverance of life against all odds that has been lukewarm in previous stories. Wells is playing with the fact that, regardless of magic sin or not, she has dark parts inside of herself that were amplified by corruption, as opposed to being the effect of it. Playing this against Peter’s current inhibited state, which is written with a sense of manic glee that just oozes character might I add, layers not just this book, but this overly run thus far in a level of thematic maturity it’s been missing.
Wells at a technical level is also wowing at every level with this arc. Instead of dropping and forgetting about it, the run’s B-plot surrounding Randy, Janice, and Tombstone gets some continued play in this issue in a way that will really matter to what comes next. Threads are getting weaved naturally back and forth both from this arc’s own stories, alongside what came before this arc and what’s to come after in a way that binds this run as a whole together with an incredibly strong central premise that is one of the better overarching themes for a Spider-Man run since the end of 2013’s Superior Spider-Man storyline. This feels like a major turning point not just in the quality of this title but in the overall level of serialized writing within the series. If Zeb sticks the landing and blazes forward with writing this strong, then we could be in for some really solid Spider-Man over the next year.
Patrick Gleason’s art just hammers everything home here in such a damn great way as he provides some of the best moments of visual storytelling in his career thus far. He brings a level of realism to the emotions on display, elevating what Wells is trying to attempt and bringing it to life in the way this run has desperately needed. That’s not to say the other artists thus far have been poor in any way; quite the opposite, actually. They’ve all been technically sound, but besides for Romita Jr., they haven’t quite fit the tone of the story or messaging in the same way Gleason does. These two are a dream team.
The Amazing Spider-Man #34is a great comic book, displaying sound writing and intense artwork to craft a story that's both incredibly entertaining yet thematically rich with a more-nuanced than usual take on redemption within the pages of this title.
The Amazing Spider-Man #34: When All’s Gone Cold
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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