REVIEW: ‘Amazing Spider-Man,’ Issue #86

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Amazing Spider-Man #86 - But Why Tho

Amazing Spider-Man #86 is written by Zeb Wells, illustrated by Michael Dowling, colored by Bryan Valenza, and lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna. It’s published by Marvel Comics. After his confrontation with Doctor Octopus, Ben Reilly’s faith in the Beyond Corporation has been shaken. And it completely shatters when he discovers the secrets on a hard drive Octopus stole. At a crossroads, Ben seeks the help of Dr. Ashley Kafka while his girlfriend Janine Godbe plans her own escape from Beyond’s watchful eye.

Previous issues and one-shots slowly revealed that Beyond was not on the up and up, and in this installment, it all comes crashing down. Ben has always struggled with feelings of self-worth and identity due to his history as a clone-something that the first issue of Ben Reilly: Spider-Man also touched upon. But he truly believed that he had a chance to do better with Beyond and now that’s been yanked out from under him. The ending of the issue is a truly bleak one, as it hints that this latest deception may be the last straw for Ben’s psyche.

Wells, who launched the Beyond Saga with Amazing Spider-Man #75-76, returns to script this issue. It’s a masterclass in how to build tension, as Ben slowly unpacks his feelings with Doctor Kafka. Kafka also reveals that she was less than trustworthy of Beyond and has been working to help Ben; it’s a nice change of pace to see a psychiatrist in superhero fiction that’s actively trying to help their patient, in more ways than one. Wells is slated to take over as the main writer of Amazing Spider-Man after the Beyond Saga and if this issue is any indication, the web-slinger’s in good hands. He also shows that he has a good grasp of Spidey’s history, as Ben’s past adventures are referenced during his therapy session.

Joining Wells is Dowling, who illustrated Ben’s battle with Kraven in Amazing Spider-Man #79-80. Dowling’s art brings a sense of realism to Wells’ script and humanity to the characters within it. Readers can see that Ben is struggling due to the stubble covering his face and the bags under his eyes. The art also leads to dramatic moments such as Ben flipping out when his spider-sense is triggered and a two-page spread where he literally falls into a swirling vortex comprised of his memories. Valenza’s colors perfectly compliment the realistic vibe; the book moves from the sunlit streets of New York City to the dark underbelly of Beyond’s HQ. And the sound effects by Caramagna literally feel like they’ll pop out of the book. Their shading and texture give the letters a three-dimensional effect.

Amazing Spider-Man #86 is a character-focused look into the worst day of Ben Reilly’s life and kicks the second half of the Beyond Saga into high gear. Given how the issue ends, I’m curious to see how Ben pulls himself out of this spiral, and whether this is what convinces Peter Parker to don his webs again.

Amazing Spider-Man #86 is available wherever comics are sold.


Amazing Spider-Man #86
4.5

TL;DR

Amazing Spider-Man #86 is a character-focused look into the worst day of Ben Reilly’s life and kicks the second half of the Beyond Saga into high gear. Given how the issue ends, I’m curious to see how Ben pulls himself out of this spiral, and whether this is what convinces Peter Parker to don his webs again.