AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21 BY DAN SLOTT, CHRISTOS GAGE, GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI, CAM SMITH, ROBERTO POGGI, JASON KEITH
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
Slott and Gage facilitate Kaine's triumphant return to the Marvel Universe amidst the depth and tumult of DEAD NO MORE. Camuncoli, Smith, Poggi, and Keith beautifully render this reintroduction, making it as visually appealing as it is enthralling.
93 %
Incredible

Well, Spider-Man fans, we’re nearing the halfway point of DEAD NO MORE. I have to say, the event has caught me off guard multiple times already — and I LOVE it. This is one of the most engaging Spider-Man events in recent years, even more so than the SPIDER-VERSE, which is what prompted me to transition from trades to a subscription box. I’d been a bit confused once I’d heard Dan Slott say that despite CLONE CONSPIRACY being the main title for DEAD NO MORE, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN would still play a role. After reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21, I finally understand what he meant.

For those of you who’ve yet to read the last issue of CLONE CONSPIRACY, do yourselves a favor and close this review. Marvel saw fit to place a warning on the first page of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21, and as a True Believer, I feel obligated to do the same. This comic explains the events that transpired behind the scenes prior to and in CLONE CONSPIRACY #2, and explains the whereabouts of a character who has been missing from the Marvel Universe for nearly two years.

READ: This issue explains a great deal about CLONE CONSPIRACY #2, if you need a refresher, check out our review!

If you were left confused by CLONE CONSPIRACY #2, like I was, don’t worry, by the end of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21, all is made clear. Though this is THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the Peter Parker we all know and love makes nary an appearance in issue #21. The comic instead follows Kaine (AKA Scarlet Spider), an imperfect clone of Peter Parker, all the way from the end of the SPIDER-VERSE event up through CLONE CONSPIRACY #2. At the end of SPIDER-VERSE, Kaine morphed into a great spider-like beast called ‘The Other,’ and used its power to kill the patriarch of a group of immortal creatures known as Inheritors. This seemingly cost him his life, or so it would seem. He then encounters Karn, once an Inheritor, now, the Master Weaver. Karn informs Kaine that because he is no longer possesses the strength of The Other, Kaine’s status as a clone has led his cellular structure to degrade. Given that mutiple worlds have been overrun by zombified clones created by Miles Warren called Carrions, Karn refuses to send Kaine back to his home world. Facilitated by Karn’s portals, Kaine begins hopping between universes in order to find a cure for himself, learning along the way that ground zero for each outbreak took place in a city with a Parker Industries research facility after PI’s collaboration with New U. After joining forces with Spider-Gwen, the two watch an alternate reality’s Peter Parker and Miles Warren attempt to stop the spread of the Carrion virus to no avail. After learning from Karn that the cycle of the Carrion virus has begun in Kaine’s world, Spider-Gwen and Kaine travel to the latter’s home world, where the former replaces New U’s reincarnated Gwen Stacy, in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 21

As a fan, I would’ve felt cheated had the events of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21 been crammed into a few panels of dialogue in CLONE CONSPIRACY. Given the scope of DEAD NO MORE, it makes sense that Spider-Man veteran Christos Gage is lending Slott a hand. This event involves many more peripheral characters in the life of Peter Parker than I could have imagined, yet it does not feel oversaturated in the slightest. DEAD NO MORE is not some random filler event, but rather, a well-thought out, multi-faceted narrative that builds off of years of stories in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21 is no different. Though a tie-in, Slott and Gage are able to convey crucial information to readers pertaining to the event as a whole while remaining entertaining and engaging.

The two writers seemingly raise Kaine from the dead with one of the most satisfying explanations present in any Marvel comic in recent years, proving that the event’s title, DEAD NO MORE, is not only a reference to literal deaths. After years without him, it’s nice to see Kaine back in action. He is Peter Parker through the gritty lens of an anti-hero. Unlike Peter, Kaine is violent and foul-mouthed, yet he possesses the former’s strong sense of responsibility. Slott and Gage capture this image of Kaine perfectly; his violence and impulsivity as means to carry out what he feels is his duty.  

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 21

Penciler Giuseppe Camuncoli continues his run on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, however, backed by a very different team of inkers and colorists, his work appears quite different, in a good way. Thanks to colorist Jason Keith, and inkers Cam Smith and Roberto Poggi, ASM #21’s artistic style contrasts nicely with the bright, hyper-modern feel of recent issues of ASM; exuding a darker vibe, reminiscent of CLONE CONSPIRACY. For Camuncoli, the human body is entirely malleable. He renders the spider-based heroes present in ASM #21 in such a wide array of poses that would be unattainable for anyone less flexible than a master contortionist. The fight sequences possess such grace and fluidity that they could be interpreted as sort of a full-contact ballet.

READ: Want more Spider-Man? Check out our analysis of SILK, as a darker reinterpretation of Peter Parker!

The inks provided by Cam Smith and Roberto Poggi contribute to the vibe laid across the entirety of DEAD NO MORE. Reflecting the narrative’s dark tone, there is a great deal of inked cell shading, leading to an array of mostly-black panels, and figures emerging from the shadows. While not entirely clean, the linework’s imperfection is its strength, mirroring Kaine’s identity as an imperfect clone, and the cellular degradation experienced by all of Warren’s clones.

Colorist Jason Keith employs a palette largely comprised of muted greens and greys. This allows for Kaine’s costume to juxtapose with his surroundings in nearly every panel. And while ASM #21 serves to bolster the strength of CLONE CONSPIRACY, and DEAD NO MORE as a whole, for me, this issue is all about Kaine. Additionally, Keith plays off of the heavy shadowing of the inkers, employing shadowing and light to help figures stand out all the more.

LISTEN: For more on death in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, check out our podcast on KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT and THE DEATH OF JEAN DEWOLFF!

DEAD NO MORE is shaping up to be the most engaging Marvel event in years. Though it does not include the entirety of the Marvel universe, it delves deeply into that which it explores. Though I myself am a devout reader of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and its associated titles, I do not think that DEAD NO MORE’s depth serves to make it exclusionary to more casual readers. I believed the Marvel multiverse to be no more, post SECRET WARS, however, this does not seem to be the case.

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