The awkward buddy comedy team-up of Spider-Man and Boomerang hit a bit of a snag at the end of the last issue as the duo ran into Gog in the sewers of New York City. This would have been a big shock if I knew anything about Gog. Instead, it was a confusing cliffhanger. Now we take the time to understand who this monster is and how he got here, in possession of a piece of a magical tablet (aka the latest McGuffin for this series.)
To be clear, not counting flashbacks, Spider-Man appears in three pages of this comic. Every other page is dedicated to Gog’s backstory. When this part started, I thought that we’d see a couple pages of this and then get on with the story. Nope! We get almost a complete issue of Gog, told in stilted English. Letterer Joe Caramagna does do a solid job with the caption work on this, keeping the font consistent with a more monstrous feel.
Is Gog’s story a sympathetic one? Absolutely. Artist Ryan Ottley draws a great adventure here, harkening back to his time on Invincible with aliens, monsters, and some great family drama. An entire epic is told in less than one issue. For someone like me, with no knowledge of Gog, this did help fill in the backstory and put the character in perspective.
The problem is, I don’t care. That sounds blunt, but let’s be clear about this. This is Amazing Spider-Man we’re talking about. I picked this up to read about the adventures of Peter Parker and I got a flashback about an alien monster. I’m disappointed and any momentum this fledgling storyline has built has been completely killed. Writer Nick Spencer tends to work in layers, building and building upon various threads, but this just feels out of left field and did not work for me.
Much of Amazing Spider-Man #42 treats Gog like a family dog. Ottley packs a lot of emotion and personality into these pages, aided by Cliff Rathburn’s solid inking work, creating crisp, clean lines. Ottley focuses on specific moments, staying on a shot for a bit longer to give it more weight. This is especially true for the end of this story that has its fair share of heartbreak.
Colorist Nathan Fairbairn fills these scenes with lively color. We’re mostly dealing with alien worlds so there’s an entirely different color palette than what we’re used to. There are lots of blues and pinks making up this landscape. Fairbairn establishes each portion of Gog’s history with its own unique tone.
This run on Amazing Spider-Man has been fairly inconsistent. This issue in particular is a low point, not because of the story or art, but because it feels completely out of place in the serialized narrative. This could have been boiled down to a smaller back up story, although it wouldn’t have carried as much weight. Instead, it took over the flagship Spider-Man title, seemingly derailing everything for the sake of talking about a Z-grade monster for 20 pages. There’s a chance this all comes around as just one part in a big master plan, but at this point, Amazing Spider-Man is a cluster of ideas and plot threads that haven’t really gone anywhere. This is just one more.