Written by: Nick Spencer
Pencils by: Mark Bagley
Inks by: John Dell with Andy Owens
Colors by: David Curiel
Amazing Spider-man #45 kicks off a new story arc and an oversized issue. Earlier this year, Spencer teased the return of this villain from the 1980’s and this return is accompanied by the return of longtime Spider-man artist Mark Bagley who sets the tone for the issue.
The additional page count is used as primer for the characters in this arc. Carlie Cooper, a character from Dan Slott’s run on the title, is reintroduced. Readers who picked up the series with Spencer’s run will benefit from this backstory. Peter Parker’s current relationship with Mary Jane and his villainous roommate situation come off more as filler to justify the oversized issue. While these character reviews do function as an introduction for new or returning readers with the new story arc, the recap doesn’t include many previous plots from Spencer’s run. The absence of those arcs is a remainder that the main villain, Kindred, who is starting to show his hand was slowly teased over the past 40 plus issues.
The rest of the issue races forward with a confrontation with the returned Sin Eater. The Sin Eater’s back story was given depth in last week’s one-shot and is summarized in a few panels here. His emotional history with Spider-man creates greater significance to his return from the dead and his expanded powers create a dangerous adversary. The arc is leading Spider-man down a path that will test him emotionally as well as physically.
Artist Mark Bagley has always beautifully rendered Spider-man’s fluidity and movement. The positioning and poses Bagley creates depict the nimbleness and power of Spider-man as a super hero. The action sequences are fast paced and easy to follow as Spider-man jumps from panel to panel leaping into action to save bystanders and sacrifice himself for others. Bagley’s more mature Peter Parker is reminiscent of his work in last year’s Spider-man: Life Story. His art for Mary Jane remains consistent with his previous work, so much so that it matches some of the facial features he’s used in the past. This legacy of Spider-man art works mainly in Bagley’s favor and connects Spider-man, Carlie Cooper, and the Sin Eater to the comics’ history. But this legacy also makes some of his alternative takes, like a close-up of Mary Jane that does not make her depiction earlier on the page, all the more noticeable.
Spencer’s re-introduction of historical characters may bring back readers or create opportunities for new readers to explore the original story arcs. But as an oversized issue, it does little more than set the stage for the new arc. Bagley’s artwork though, continues to be quintessential Spider-man.