Spider-Man Beyond has built a unique sort of Spider-Man story. It started as one thing- an exploration of corporate sponsored heroism- and has now turned into something very different, and it’s notable both for its in-universe meaning and the allegory beneath it.
Ben Reilly’s journey has taken a turn for the worst. That means it’s quite a read for us, from Zeb Wells, Michael Dowling, Bryan Valenza, and Joe Caramagna.
Beyond has broken Ben Reilly’s mind. They’ve kidnapped Ashley Kafka. Now the only hope to expose them for the evils they’ve done may be Janine Godbe. That’s only if she can outrun the Queen Goblin, a monstrous evil that is a lot more than anyone expects.
On the surface, you might think that this is another new Goblin story, just another attempt at leaving a mark on the legacy of Spider-Man. Quickly though, it becomes obvious that’s not what this story is. Though the Queen Goblin is terrifying- probably the scariest new Goblin since the demon Hobgoblin- her background is ever scarier.
Wells writes a condemnation of corporate hubris in the background of this great superhero action story. Beyond immediately loses control of the Queen- before she’s even deployed, in fact. Ben is broken, but unexpectedly he’s beyond their control as well. Wells shows suddenly a Beyond Corporation that’s in it deep, and that’s much more interesting than just a dust-up between a corporate hero and a corporate villain.
Dowling’s work, especially paired with Valenza, continues to be just stunning. His reveal of the Queen Goblin in the first few pages is frightening, and he depicts her slightly off kilter, with weird angles and disquieting close-ups. Another great touch is how he always depicts Maxine Danger with an up angle, giving her the appearance of always looking down at the reader, always above them.
Valenza’s colors bring the unsettling qualities of both the Queen Goblin and Beyond to life. His colors on the panel revealing the Queen makes her feel ethereal and demonic- a creature in the world but very much set apart from it. Caramagna continues to be this run’s unsung hero. His letters and SFX work is great, but he also paces the dialogue so well. A great example of that is Maxine’s speech about how Roxxon covered up evil deeds through a supervillain attack. He spreads it through the page in a way that makes these evil words feel cold and detached.
Spider-Man Beyond is gearing up for a hell of a climax. I hope the creative team lives up to what they’ve set up here.
Amazing Spider-Man #88 is available now from Marvel Comics.
The newest Goblin makes her debut in a tale that’s much deeper than it appears. It’s a terrifying new addition to the Marvel Universe, with a twist.