Sinister War is the grand finale of Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man, which is set to end with issue #74 in September. I haven’t been reading the main Spidey title since Spencer took over in 2018, nor do I particularly love his comics work as of late, but staying with one character for that long and that many issues is impressive by modern standards. Even if it is with an uber-popular figure like Spider-Man, attaining such a long and uninterrupted streak–plus spinoffs and tie-ins—deserves a little bit of credit.
As for the story of Sinister War, it very much seems to be something of a sequel/successor to the infamous “One More Day” storyline, wherein Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage was essentially retconned out of Marvel history by Mephisto. With the couple now reunited and apparently stronger than ever, what could go wrong…? (The answer is “a lot,” specifically not just one but six supervillain teams coming after him, not to mention Mephisto also having designs on the beleaguered couple. Oops!)
As with many recent Marvel events, Sinister War is mixing and matching elements of past storylines to create something new but still ultimately familiar (case in point: Marvel’s latest riff on the equally infamous Clone Saga, now happening in Spider-Man: Miles Morales). As someone who doesn’t have a lot of nostalgia for Marvel Comics in general but particularly Spider-Man, this approach leaves me a bit cold. I recognize that Spidey fans will probably get more out of this first issue than I did, but it speaks to the strategy of these superhero publishers where it’s usually more viable financially to repeat what has worked in the past rather than truly embracing something “new.” It also doesn’t really inspire me to go back and read the bulk of Spencer’s Amazing run up to this point, either. To Marvel’s credit, the incoming creative team of the next Spidey era actually seems to be a bit forward-thinking and different than the last several years of Spider-Man comics, but, until then, it’s Sinister War presumably leading to the end of Spencer’s run.
The uninspiredness of Sinister War unfortunately extends to its visuals. I’m loath to critique the artistic sensibility of confirmed industry legend Mark Bagley, but his classic aesthetic is just not an exciting aspect of this series. I actually like his modern art a lot when it’s used cleverly (i.e. Spider-Man: Life Story, where his old school vibe serves a metatextual purpose), but it just doesn’t work for me here.
Sinister War #1
- Writer: Nick Spencer
- Penciler: Mark Bagley
- Inkers: Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, Andy Owens
- Color Artist: Brian Reber
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
- Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch, Paul Mounts
- Editor: Nick Lowe
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment