Based on my experience reading them, I believe that milestone issues are probably one of the most intimidating comics to write for the Big Two. And Spider-Man is no exception; Amazing Spider-Man #6 by Zeb Wells and pencils and inks by Ed McGuinness, inks by Mark Morales, Wade Von Grawbadger, Cliff Rathburn, colours by Marcio Menyz, Dijjo Lima, and Erick Arciniega, and lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles, does double duty as a celebration of the character’s upcoming 60th anniversary and the 900th issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Meaning that such an issue should not only deliver on its story, but it should also prove itself to be a memorable milestone issue. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man #900 does not live up to these standards.
I have been enjoying the current Amazing Spider-Man series. That is probably a sacrilegious opinion as the current series begins with certain changes to the life of Peter Parker that have proven to be controversial, as readers have felt that the character has been in a perpetual state of stagnation. Regardless, I felt that the first arc of the series was a welcome return to the street-level stories of the character with its use of Tombstone as the antagonist. The premise of “What did Peter Parker do,” which was used to market the series, was intriguing especially since much of the first arc had him deal with the fallout of his actions in terms of how it affected his relationships with his loved ones.
This informed my interest in this week’s issue of Amazing Spider-Man, at least before I read it. While the premise of the character known as the Super-Adaptoid; a being with the powers of the original Sinister Six: Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter by way of his son, Mysterio, Vulture, and Sandman did give me some reservations as it felt like a “gimmick” character, I was still open to the idea.
But that’s where I was wrong. Ultimately, the character proved to be just that—a gimmick. It appears that the character was created for this issue to create a sense of spectacle as Spider-Man is fighting someone who has the combined powers of some of his worst enemies. There is nothing else to it and while gimmick characters aren’t necessarily a negative, the character just didn’t work.
A milestone issue means a higher page count and with that in mind, I was expecting the series to advance with some of the plot threads that were established in the beginning. But instead, this issue tells a story that feels out-of-place, with the only connection being to the post-credits scene of the first issue with Doctor Octopus and a mysterious figure.
Perhaps the story of the Super-Adaptoid was meant to serve as a breather after the intensity of the first arc, but even so, it’s wasted on this milestone issue, especially since the character’s 60th anniversary is coming soon. The character’s presence in the story doesn’t feel meaningful and feels more like a cynical opportunity to get readers to purchase this issue because of their existence.
Not all is imperfect, however. While the main story isn’t good, writer Zeb Wells does nail the character of Peter Parker. Throughout the series, the character has had a bite to him that has been missing for a long time and he maintains that aspect of the character. Whether that be in his fight against the Super-Adaptoid or his adamant refusal to give up in the face of growing adversity, he’s written well.
Visually, this is a good-looking story. Ed McGuinness’ art is suited for the action-oriented nature of the story. There’s a smooth consistency to his inks, especially since he’s working with Mark Morales, Wade von Grawbadger, and Cliff Rathburn. Colorists Marcio Menyz, Dijjo Lima, and Erick Arciniega work well in establishing the mood throughout the various scenes of the story. And lastly, Joe Caramagna’s lettering is readable and consistent. Overall, the consistent and cohesive nature of the creators working on the visuals is a testament to how well they work together. Throughout the issue, I did not notice anything jarring about the story’s look.
Besides the main story, there are the backup stories, which are a mixed bag. Throughout the stories, the lettering is handled by Joe Caramagna, who maintains his consistency from the main story. The first story, by David Kibblesmith, David Lopez, and Nathan Fairbairn, has a humorous charm to it, as it deals with an all-too-relatable aspect of life for most folks. Unfortunately, the last two stories are not particularly interesting, and they feel like a waste of space. The second story is a “Spidey meets a celebrity” gimmick by Jeff Loveness, Todd Nauck, and Rachelle Rosenberg. While these stories aren’t necessarily bad, I do not find them particularly interesting because of this gimmick. And lastly, there’s the third story by Dan Slott, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente. While the story is a sweet testament to the familial relationship between Peter and his Aunt May, there is nothing novel about the story. And just like with the main story, the visual elements of the art, colours, and lettering are excellent as usual. I do not think this means that Amazing Spider-Man has dived quality. I believe the next set of issues have a chance to be good. But when considering that this issue was published in honour of the character’s anniversary, The Amazing Spider-Man #900 is a milestone disappointment.