Writer: Nick Spencer / Artist: Ken Lashley / Marvel Comics
I was not even a little bit ready for this comic in any fashion. First, I didn’t know it was coming out after reading Amazing Spider-Man #18. I found out that Marvel is releasing these “.HU” issues in-between the main title. A move like this screams, “Those nerds are going to buy this twice a month, why not four times?” Had I not been provided with a review copy, I might not have read this, and my soul would’ve had an inexplicable lesser ape-sized whole in it. Spencer and Lashley spend this comic centered on Gibbon, a low tier occasional antagonist for Spider-Man.
Previously in the “Hunted” story, Spider-Man tries to save the animal-based portion of his rogue’s gallery trapped in Kraven’s grand game. Faced with the choice, Gibbon decides to forsake Spider-Man in favor of the Vulture. The appeal to villainous camaraderie is proven misplaced as Vulture betrays Gibbon, leaving him injured at the mercy of the Kraven killbots and their entitled, thrill seeking, wealthy controllers. This comic explores the aftermath of this incident alongside Gibbon’s history. Through inner monologue Gibbon reflects on his past and the circumstances that led him to this moment. To quote Kendrick, we find “Power, poison, pain and joy” in Gibbon’s DNA. The book ends with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and our less friendly neighborhood rhino interfering with the hunters although whether they make it in time is up in the air.
A fun exercise in reviewing this book was getting to a part of Gibbons tragic origin and looking up his Marvel Wiki page to see whether or not something this sad was written in 1972. What Nick Spencer is able to do is take a character most likely to be the punchline of a joke about silly comics book villains and weave his history into a heartbreaking and relatable tale. Gibbon is tormented in school for his appearance and when he wants to dedicate his life to helping others, as he was inspired by Spider-Man, the hero laughed at him. He understandably lashes out and cements himself as a villain, but his story continues with stints of embarrassment, love, heartbreak, contentment, villainy and heroism. What makes this character special is that he’s essentially a normal dude. He made a bad decision that he still pays for, but he has a good heart and every once in a while gets to show it. Damn it, Spencer. What Brian Michael Bendis did for the Armadillo and Tom King did for Kite Man (Hell yea) Spencer has accomplished with Gibbon.
10 “Marty-induced Tears” out of 10
Reading Amazing Spider-Man? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.