A wedding, a gang war, new alliances, and new costumes. Amazing Spider-Man #31 is a beast of a comic. If we’re going by legacy numbering, then this would be Amazing Spider-Man #925, so it makes sense that Marvel wanted to go all out. This giant-sized issue sets up multiple story threads for Amazing Spider-Man and its spin-off titles. Let’s take a look at the many storylines it set up.
A wedding and a gang war
Let’s be frank, weddings in the Marvel Universe rarely go well, and the one seen in this issue was no exception. Randy Robertson was set to marry Janice Lincoln, and their union was a problem for tons of reasons. Randy is the son of Daily Bugle editor-in-chief Joe Robertson, while Janice is the daughter of the crime boss Tombstone. To complicate matters further, Joe and Tombstone have a contemptuous history. Oh, and Janice is also a D-list supervillain known as the Beetle.
Believe it or not, we’re still not done counting all the red flags. The issue begins with Tombstone telling a group of crime lords that if they don’t attend his daughter’s wedding, he’ll take it as a personal insult. The various crime lords all agree to attend, setting the wedding up to be a powder keg.
As you can imagine, the proximity of all the crime bosses makes the wedding a target for some opportunists. A mercenary named Shotgun crashes the ceremony and attacks Tombstone. The father-of-the-bride survives, but he’s critically injured. The mobster Hammerhead takes advantage of the chaos and kills his rival Masque. The wedding ends without Randy and Janice getting married – but maybe they should have known a bit better than to invite that many crime bosses to their nuptials.
This non-wedding appears to be the opening shots of Gang War, an upcoming crossover storyline that will run in Amazing Spider-Man and various other titles. “The ramifications from this wedding are going to be felt for quite some time and are leading towards the next huge ASM story,” editor Nick Lowe teased in the letters page.
Spider-Man and the Black Cat breakup
Since his debut in 1962, Spider-Man has been unlucky in love. Amazing Spider-Man #31 continued that trend. The anti-hero known as the Black Cat ended her relationship with Spider-Man, leaving the web-swinger single once again. After a heart-to-heart with Janice Lincoln, Felicia Hardy realized that she and Peter had been going through the motions and that their relationship lacked passion.
“Things got dark for you. And I was a bit of light. That was fun for a while. I like lighting you up. But I want a relationship, not a project,” Felicia told Peter. The two parted on friendly terms, with Black Cat telling Spidey she would always be around if he needed her.
The breakup with Felicia is hardly surprising. Despite dating Spider-Man, the anti-hero has played a relatively small role in the title. She had been absent from entire arcs of the series, including the Rabin storyline where Kamala Khan died.
This isn’t the first time Peter and Felicia have called it quits. Their first relationship ended when Spider-Man tried to arrest her for returning to crime in Amazing Spider-Man #227 (1983). Their second romance soured in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #100 (1985) when Spidey realized Felicia would never accept his life as Peter Parker.
Their third affair ended in disaster in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #129 (1987) when Spidey learned Black Cat had been working with a villain known as the Foreigner to frame him for murder. The couple tried a “no strings attached” relationship during the Brand New Day era, which appeared to end off-panel sometime after Web of Spider-Man #12 (2010).
This development frees Peter Parker up for a possible reunion with Mary Jane Watson. A recent poll by Popverse showed that fans want the two characters to be married again. While marriage is probably not in the cards, the breakup with Felicia does put the two characters one step closer to a romantic reconciliation.
The Superior Spider-Man returns
Doctor Octopus is planning something big, he just needs Spider-Man’s body. In this issue, the villain is seen at The Bar with No Name trying to work out a mysterious formula. We aren’t told what it is, or why Doc Ock is trying to solve it, but we know it’s important. “The ultimate equation! The culmination of my life’s work,” Otto says in frustration.
After wrecking his brains for the answer, Otto has an epiphany. “Of course! I found the answer back when I was him! Moments in time I can no longer fully remember. Very well. If I am to relearn this great secret, I must return to my life as the Superior Spider-Man,” Otto proclaims. This appears to be setting up Superior Spider-Man Returns, an upcoming series by Dan Slott. The title launches in October, shortly before the 10th anniversary of the Superior Spider-Man storyline.
Dan Slott teased the storyline in a statement to Marvel.com. “The challenge Marvel gave me was: for the 10th anniversary, how can we revisit Superior, without repeating ourselves, and while telling a story that impacts Spider-Man’s world today? Superior Spider-Man Returns is going to take an untold Superior tale, and drag it kicking, screaming, and violently exploding into the present. It’s going to give you everything you liked about Superior but in new surprising ways. No time travel. No clones.”
Mary Jane Watson becomes a superhero
After spending years on the sidelines, Mary Jane Watson is becoming a superhero. Spider-Man’s former girlfriend has had powers for the past year, thanks to some tech built by her boyfriend Paul Rabin. The technology allows Mary Jane to spin a holographic slot machine, which grants her different abilities based on where the slots land. These powers were originally meant to combat the villainous Rabin (Paul’s father), but now MJ is ready to step up and become a full-blown superhero.
Spider-Man’s now ex-girlfriend Felicia Hardy visits MJ, who is in a funk after finding out her adopted kids were merely magical constructs. Felicia gifts Mary Jane a new supersuit and encourages her to use her powers for good. “You saved them even before you had powers MJ. Because it’s who you are. And right now, this corrupt cesspool of a city could really use another hero,” Felicia says. Taking inspiration from Felicia’s words, Mary Jane dons the new suit, and flies through New York City as Jackpot.
Mary Jane isn’t the first heroine to call herself Jackpot. Another heroine named Jackpot operated during the Spider-Man’s Brand New Day era. At the time there were hints that Jackpot was Mary Jane, but she was later revealed to be a woman named Alana Jobson. After Jobson’s death, her friend Sara Ehret took over the mantle. Jackpot received her own mini-series in 2010 but hasn’t been seen since.
According to a press release from Marvel.com, Mary Jane’s adventures as Jackpot will be seen in a “yet-to-be-announced new limited series.”
Spider-Woman is angry
Jessica Drew’s son Gerry is missing, and she won’t stop until she gets him back. Spider-Woman was recently erased from existence during the last Spider-Verse event. Peter and the other Spiders were able to restore her, but the experience left Jessica shaken. Amazing Spider-Man #31 features a backup story, showing us what Jessica has been up to since then – pure violence.
In the story, Spider-Woman brutally beats a criminal, demanding to know where her son is. Unfortunately, he swallows some cyanide before he can tell her. The mystery of Gerry Drew’s whereabouts will be dealt with in Spider-Woman, a new series that launches this November. The title will be written by Steve Foxe with art by Carola Borelli.
Spider-Boy’s origin explored
Spider-Boy made his debut earlier this year, but there is still a lot we don’t know about him. We know that he’s a ten-year-old boy named Bailey Briggs, and he appears to be an orphan. Beyond that, we don’t know how he got his powers, or his origin. Spider-Man #10 (2023) revealed that Bailey has spider-fangs, which he uses to bite his enemies and inject venom into their bodies. What is this kid’s deal?
While this issue doesn’t give us all our answers, it gives us some hints. We’re introduced to a mad scientist named Madame Monstrosity. The villainess is the mother of Harlan and Farley Stillwell, two mad scientists from Spider-Man’s past. Madame Monstrosity is surrounded by human/animal hybrids, who she refers to as humanimals.
Monstrosity is angered when she sees Spider-Boy’s picture in the Daily Bugle. “Someone else is out there using my breakthroughs to create humanimals. Because I’m looking at one right now, and I don’t know how, but he’s mine,” she angrily says. It’s possible that Bailey was created by someone who co-opted Madame Monstrosity’s research, or perhaps his late parents were one of her humaninals.
Either way, the story will continue in Spider-Boy #1, which will hit comic stores this November.
A deadly alliance
Kraven the Hunter tangles with Queen Goblin during a three-page teaser. Their battle is ferocious, with blood spilling and bombs flying. However, the second page reveals that their rage turned into passion. Kraven and Queen Goblin spend the night together, savoring their love for the hunt.
This is probably bad news for Spider-Man, since both villains are a handful on their own. Who knows what kind of damage they can cause as a power couple. We’ll find out in Amazing Spider-Man #32, which will be published later this month.
The most notorious Spider-Man story ever told
The final sequence of the issue is a five-page teaser for a story that appears to be a sequel to Spider-Man Reign. We see Kingpin plotting some mysterious evil plan, as Spider-Man imagines a conversation with his late wife Mary Jane Watson. If you read the original Spider-Man Reign limited series, then you know exactly how Mary Jane died (it’s gross).
The cliffhanger simply states, “The most notorious Spider-Man story ever told returns.” While this hasn’t been officially confirmed to be a Spider-Man Reign sequel, there are plenty of contextual clues in the story and the artwork. As if that wasn’t enough, this sequence was written and illustrated by Kaare Andrews, the creator behind the infamous series. Yes, it looks like we’re getting a Spider-Man Reign sequel.
There is a lot to unpack here – but strangely no Rek-Rap. Maybe next time.
Amazing Spider-Man #31 was written by Zeb Wells, Dan Slott, Celeste Bronfman, Albert Monteys, Cale Atkinson, and Kaare Andrews. Pencils were done by John Romita Jr., Emilio Laiso, Ze Caarlos, David Lopez, Mark Bagley, Alba Glez, Paco Medina, Albert Monteys, Cale Atkinson, Patrick Gleason, and Kaare Andrews.
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