AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10 / Writer: Nick Spencer / Pencilers: Humberto Ramos & Michelle Bandini / Inkers: Victor Olazaba & Michelle Bandini / Colorists: Edgar Delgado & Erick Arciniega / Letterer: Joe Caramagna / Publisher: Marvel / Released on: November 28, 2018
I was one of those unapologetic fans of the Peter Parker / Mary Jane marriage. Ryan Spencer’s choice to bring back, if not the marriage, the relationship has been a welcome change. Unfortunately, no matter how much I cheer on the relationship, I have to admit that Mary Jane has often been little more than a character to put in danger or a driving force writers choose to use to endanger the Parkers’ wedding. In Amazing Spider-Man #10, Mary Jane’s subplot rivals Peter’s story and treats her like her own person.
Picking up immediately after last issue, Amazing Spider-Man #10 sees the Thieves Guild send their full force against Peter and Black Cat. The fight lasts the balance of the issue until Peter is able to call in the other heroes to recover their stolen goods—the Thieves Guild heist from earlier issues. The fight disperses, and Peter and Black Cat share a private but platonic moment. Meanwhile, as the fight rages, Mary Jane is attending a support group of people who have relationships with super heroes.
Humberto Ramos has a particular style. His characters are frequently thin and wiry, their faces often angular. This works exceptionally well during fights, as Ramos’ style creates a dynamic look. This is an asset during the fight against the Thieves Guild where Peter is surrounded and fighting against insurmountable odds. An arguable detraction during the fight is Black Cat’s face, the expressions of which are overly exaggerated. However, this shortcoming during the fight is balanced against a quiet scene near the end where Black Cat confesses that she no longer remembers who Spider-Man is and that that gap is painful. Her face becomes softer, more rounded; her eyes simple and human. I suspect these pages were done by Michelle Bandini just based on the softer feel of those pages.
Inkers Victor Olazaba and Michelle Bandini use a slightly heavier hand earlier in the issue, but they—like Ramos—know when to use a light touch in that emotional scene.
Colorists Edgar Delgao and Erik Arciniega deliver a somewhat paint-by-numbers color job. One thing that stood out, though, were the few flashback scenes during Mary Jane’s story. The most interesting one was a panel that came close to mimicking the old dot matrix feel. These lighted, washed out pages—often with a full color Mary Jane atop them—caught my eye.
The Real Story
Mary Jane’s monologue at the support group goes on a while, overlapping with the fight on multiple pages. Letterer Joe Caramagna does an able job positioning the narration boxes across the action. The boxes are as out of way as possible in each panel, letting the eyes flow first to the action before the narration.
Mary Jane has come up several times in my discussion of Amazing Spider-Man #10. To be sure, there’s a fun action story in the issue. But the real story is Mary Jane’s and her examination of why she’s with Peter—whether she should be. She even touches on matters of a new job and how it might fit in with Peter’s life. This is a spectacular look at Mary Jane’s character on her own even as she is in a relationship with Peter. Nick Spencer has infused this series with exceptional heart and feeling, and no issue has exemplified this as much #10.
The Amazing Spider-Man has been a relentless stairstep of quality since Nick Spencer took over. Amazing Spider-Man #10 not only proves that point but manages to surprise even regular readers. Developing Mary Jane is not always an easy feat considering how two-dimensional she’s been from time to time throughout history. Here, though—more than at any point I can think of—Mary Jane feels like a real person with real concerns fitting her situation. It was a refreshing change and one with feeling.
Rating: 5 out of 5 missing Mjolnirs
Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he’s published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.