Review: A Chance Encounter Leads To Podcast Gold In ‘Amazing Spider-Man #40’

by James Ferguson

Despite being attacked by the villain, Chance, J. Jonah Jameson still wants to finish his interview with Spider-Man. How else is he going to be the next Serial podcast? There’s more than just this low-level bad guy’s antics going on, but the wall-crawler doesn’t know that. The Foreigner and another member of his rogues gallery are separately manipulating things from the shadows that are sure to spell doom for the web-head.

I came into this arc a little disappointed, but I was turned around by the end of this issue. Writer Nick Spencer is great at introducing new ideas to classic characters. We’ve seen this play out here and in the pages of Archie. These haven’t totally come together for me just yet, but I can see how they start to build on one another.
Amazing Spider-Man #40 has a nice battle with a no-name villain, but what the big deal coming out of this issue is how the hero’s image is changed in the eyes of the public. I’ve never really understood why people didn’t like him in the Marvel Universe, but seeing how disinformation can spread like wildfire in real life over the past few years, I get it now. JJJ was a muckraker slinging lies about the wall-crawler and now both of them are getting a chance to come clean.

It will be interesting to see how this aspect plays out in the coming months in Amazing Spider-Man. While Spencer can introduce these new ideas, he takes a slow burn route to build them up, taking a good amount of time to get to the big reveal. Case in point: It’s been forty issues since Kindred popped up and we are no closer to learning the newcomer’s identity.
As intriguing as this is, I’m somewhat lackluster about the villainous side of Amazing Spider-Man #40. Chance doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things and the reveals by the end of the issue were either blatantly obvious or ho-hum. There are some characters that (to use wrestling term) will never get over. We’ll see if Spencer can change that perspective.

The artwork in Amazing Spider-Man #40, is split between Iban Coello and Ze Carlos. The fight scenes are incredible with a varied layout and an unrivaled intensity to every image. I love how there are these blurred lines around the characters as they lay into one another. It adds a little extra oomph to the battle, like they’re both giving it their all. There’s a great half-page image that shows Spider-Man really letting loose and just clobbering Chance.
Although this showdown happens at night, it comes alive with a fiery light. Colorists Brian Reber and Pete Pantazis fill the page with bright oranges and yellows. Sure, some of that comes from the walls around the studio, but it transcends that, creating a background akin to anime in its styling.

The heated combat contrasts well with the others watching from afar. The two settings could not be more different in terms of the level of tension and action, yet the villains viewing the battle from screens elsewhere feels so much scarier.
The wrap-up to the JJJ interview is shown in a solid pattern of panels that reveal how much went into it. Letterer Joe Caramagna drops in Spidey’s internal narration caption boxes in a “matter-of-fact” way, like we’re listening to him at the end of a sitcom tying up loose ends. Caramagna is a master and has a way of placing a single piece of dialogue on the page to have the most impact.
I still have some misgivings about this detour of sorts in Amazing Spider-Man, but I was pleasantly surprised at some of the twists and turns this issue took. There is a grand plan for this comic and it seems to get bigger and bigger each month. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. I just hope we get some payoffs from all this building soon.
Amazing Spider-Man #40 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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