Amazing Spider-Men #394 was cover dated October 1994 and was on sale August 1994 sharing the spinner racks with Demon #0, Ectokid #1, Flash #0 and Hellshock #1.
Credits: J M DeMatteis, writer, Mark Bagley pencils, Larry Mahlstedt inks and Danny Fingeroth editor.
Cast Main: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Clone of Peter Parker, Mary Jane Parker, Anna Watson, Dr Kafka.
Cast Villainous: Judas Traveller, his entourage (Mr Nacht, Chakra, Medea, Boons and Scrier) Chameleon, Verminn and Carnage.
Plot: Spider-Man has entered the Ravencroft hospital, whilst his clone stands on the roof, struggling with his identity and Mary Jane leaves for Pittsburgh and Aunt May clings to life in her coma. Inside Ravencroft, Judas Traveller and his entourage examine Edward Whelan who Judas changes into his previous identity, Verminn. Not wanting to cause more suffering to the innocent creature, he changes him back to Edward and teleports him outside.
Spider-Man walks through the institute and finds Chameleon in a cell, constantly changing his face, his own identity lost. Then he sees Carnage, devoid of hope and moral concerns. It’s clearly shown that these mimic Spider-Man’s own internal conflicts. The wheels are starting to come off as the pressures of the last few months start taking their toll.
At the hospital with May, the clone of Peter is struggling with his identity and his sadness over May, when her doctor offers a friendly ear. Whilst at Ravencroft Spider-Man faces Judas Traveller.
The battle is short, Spider-Man is near the edge of sanity and facing all his demons and his failure to even hurt Traveller pushes him over it. Scrier, a player in all this appears and asks if the inmates are to die. Traveller says not yet, there is another one.
Chakra’s translucent form appears before the clone and offers a choice, stay at May’s bedside, let Spider-Man die and gain the life he has always wanted. Or, go to Ravencroft and risk his life for the one person who’s death can set him free.
Notes: J M DeMatteis is much like Roger Stern an often overlooked Spider-Man writer, but here he shows quality writing for this chapter. Highlighting the differences between both Peters, one tortured because of who he is and the other tortured because he isn’t. The captions showing Spider-Man’s descent towards madness makes make his final fall feel authentic. This isn’t a man suddenly going made, it’s someone being strong finally succumbing to the pressures he has been forced to bear. I get that and it’s handled well as is the choices each Peter is offered and the one each takes. The writing is more nuanced than part 1 and ramps up the intrigue and tension perfectly.
As for the art, Mark Bagley doing Spider-Man? Well it’s great, stylised, but consistent. Bagley is almost never better than when he is drawing Spider-Man and he even makes Traveller less ridiculous.
Overall I liked this issue more than the last one and I am eager to read on, which is the ideal response to a part 2 of anything.
Next Time: Professor X and the X-Men, together again, for the first time.