Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Michael Dowling
Color Artist: Bryan Valenza
Cover Artists: Arthur Adams & Alejandro Sanchez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Peter Parker is out of commission as Spider-Man, but Ben Reilly is stepping up to take over while he recovers. Thanks to the backing of the Beyond Corporation, Ben finally thought his life was turning around. But after his last fight with Doctor Octopus, Ben learns dark truths about Beyond and in Amazing Spider-Man #86, we’ll see what Ben will do next.
So, this comic really gets right to it. Ben Reilly is having a therapy session with Dr. Kafka (the female doctor in the previews). They really get into the nitty gritty when it comes to Ben’s place in Beyond, his thoughts on the company, and how everything is going forward in the next issue. One thing I will say is that it’s about time that Ben realized that Beyond was shady and potentially evil. Everyone, from other characters to the readers could see all the red flags waving around Beyond, but not him. He was written to be clueless in an unconvincing manner. Now he’s finally seeing the truth.
The problem there is that readers don’t really learn any of those juicy, dark secrets that Doctor Octopus mentioned were on the drive he gave to Ben. Thankfully, Ben makes the smart move by giving it to Janine and the plot with her in this comic is probably the better story since she’s the only one acting with some sense. The best part about Janine’s portions of the comic is how her worry for Ben, herself, and what’s on the drive are visually conveyed through the art by Bryan Valenza, which is paralleled with Ben’s session by Zeb Wells.
However, the bad part of this comic is how clumsy and foolhardy, if not plain stupid Ben acts in this comic. Especially when it concerns his feelings about Beyond right now and the truths he learns about himself in this comic. But that’s a big Spoiler and we’ll dig into that in the next section. Thankfully, with how the comic proceeds from there, the ending leaves a lot of exciting potential for the next issue’s story.
So, Ben is having a session with Dr. Kafka and he straight up tells her that he’s not only doubting the Beyond Corporation but he tells her about the drive. Mind you, he does this knowing that they’re being watched on cameras. What’s worse is that Kafka not only says that she agrees with him about Beyond, but she honestly thinks that they can say whatever they want because she has a written agreement with Beyond to not monitor their sessions. Surprise, Maxine doesn’t honor that whatsoever, and like her, I’m also surprised that Kafka honestly believed she would.
You might think I’m being sarcastic or facetious, but I’m not. Ben and Kafka are genuinely caught off-guard by their corporate overlords abruptly ending the session and storming the room. Look, Kafka is one of those characters who should know better by now, even if she’s a clone. She worked with Norman Osborn at the Ravencroft Institute, when he was still evil, in Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run. She should know to be on guard when dealing with shrewd, shady, corporate executives like Norman Osborn or Maxine Danger. But when it comes to mistakes like this, it’s not on the characters but the writer, and possibly the Beyond Board.
Amazing Spider-Man #86 shows Ben Reilly trying to process what he’s learned about Beyond from Doctor Octopus last issue. However, Ben’s actions in this issue were kind of foolish given who he’s dealing with. The only one who does anything sensible and interesting in this situation is Janine, while things play out as they would with a shady corporation in Marvel Comics. However, the comic’s ending does leave potential for an interesting direction for Ben in the next issue.