You can’t keep a good aunt down. Aunt May is currently buried under all kinds of rubble after a fight between Rhino, Taskmaster, Black Ant, and Spider-Man, but she’s now quivering in fear. She’s standing up and fighting not only for herself, but for the other survivors stuck down there. Her nephew is up there tearing through the wreckage to find her and he’s not going to let any super villains stand in his way.
I’m going to get into all of this in just a moment. Yes, it’s the main story, but Amazing Spider-Man #15 starts out with a super compelling side story that writer Nick Spencer has been percolating for a little while. It’s following Curt Connors and his resurrected lizard family, primarily his son, Billy. He’s a teenager that wants nothing more than to be out in the world with other kids, but his father refuses to let him see the light of day.
You can see how this might be going with a rebellious kid under what he sees as an oppressive rule. Curt wants to keep his family safe, especially since he only just got them back. He thought they were gone forever and now he has a second chance and he’s not going to let anything happen to them. That unfortunately means that he’s going to keep them under lock and key.
Although this family looks like literal monsters, there’s a lot of heart on display. Artist Chris Bachalo brings out the human side of them, even in the Lizard who appears more monstrous than the others. You can see the love he has for his family and the heartbreak he feels at his son lashing out. I’m not saying that his actions are entirely justified since this is the Marvel Universe where there are tons of mutants, inhumans, and other odd looking people out there so Billy would fit in somewhere. It’s just that he wants to keep them safe.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get back to the main story. As with the previous issue, not to mention what’s going on over in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, it really feels like Aunt May’s days are numbered. She is shown as an absolute saint in this chapter as Peter rushes in to save her. He’s outlining why she’s so important and how she’s inspired him to be not only a better hero, but a better man. It’s almost like a eulogy.
Letterer Joe Caramagna captures all of these powerful words in Spider-Man’s internal narration. These caption boxes are kept small and strong, placed in the perfect spot to convey the most emotion and carry the most weight.
Taskmaster makes the mistake of trying to interfere in this and quickly regrets it. We don’t see the real result of this. Instead, Bachalo breaks up the page in a number of smaller panels, each showing close-ups of savage blows at the hands of Spider-Man. Absent are his usual quips and remarks. We know how formidable Taskmaster is in combat, but he’s no match for this pure passion that is on display when a loved one is in danger.
Peter eventually digs his way down to find Aunt May. She’s literally in the ground, which could be another potential foreshadowing. In any case, when the scene is pretty grim. Since there’s no light getting in, it’s a dark and foreboding scene. Bachalo, along with Jim Campbell, set this tone with their colors.
In addition to all this, we’re given a glimpse as to what Kraven is planning, which does not bode well for the wall-crawler. Amazing Spider-Man #15 has a feeling of a pot of water about to boil. We’re in build up mode and we’re in for something big soon. By this point, I have to wonder if Aunt May will live to see it.