Amazing Spider-Man 395 was cover dated November 1994 and was on sale September 1994, sharing the Spinner racks with Badrock & Company 1, Manhunter 0, Shadows & Mysterions 1 and Timecop 1.
Credits: Writer: J M DeMatteis, Pencils: Mark Bagley, inks: Larry Mahlstedt and edited by Danny Fingeroth.
Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Angela ‘Nocturne’ Cairn, Thomas ‘Puma’ Fireheart, Mary Jane Watson-Parker and her sister Gayle.
Plot: A drug deal in Manhatten is interrupted by the bat-winged Nocturne and her compatriot, the almost feral Puma. The moneyman in this deal, Clifford White is cornered by Puma and is brought to his knees by the emotional powers of Nocturne and he screams, feeling all the pain his drugs have caused.
We now find Spider-Man standing in the Forest Hills house, he grew up in. Standing there in his rain soaked costume, unsure of what he’s doing, walking through the past of the person who he no longers wants to be. He walks into his bedroom and sees the ghosts of his childhood, a happier Peter, an Aunt May not lying in a hospital bed and an Uncle Ben, alive and well. It gets too painful and he leaves, unsure why he’s even gone there at all. Elsewhere Mary Jane Watson-Parker visits her sister Gayle and is welcomed with open arms.
Back in New York, Nocturne is looking for someone. She and Puma head off believing that they have found them. At Midtown High, the object of that search is still looking at ghosts, this time his teenage years. His old principal, his high school crush and all the little battles, wondering what the point of it all was. In that vulnerable moment, Puma attacks.
Spider-Man fights back and before this escalates, Nocturne tries to make peace, using her emotion powers to explain that Puma has submerged his humanity and is just a wounded beast in pain, just like Spider-Man. But Puma hasn’t quite submerged all of his human side and remembers his enmity towards Spider-Man and the attack begins again. This time Nocturne is injured and the Puma and the Spider square off, with nothing to hold them back from battling to the death.
Notes: The worst enemies we have are the demons within us. While the clone has spent 5 years avoiding Peter’s life, the original Peter has lived that life and it really hasn’t been going too well lately. He’s now caught between his pain and his nostalgia. All being Peter has done is cause him and others pain, so he hides inside the mask of the Spider and tries to forget, but memories don’t go away, no matter how nicely you ask them to and pain is even harder to shift. Puma also feels the pain of his former life, despite not being cognisant of most of it. This is mostly lost on the characters in this book, but not on me. To see one of comics’ most hopeful and human characters become so cynical and divorced from his humanity adds a melancholy to this tale. DeMatteis excels at this kind of stuff, psychodrama both in and out of the self, my only issue with the writing is it neither explains what has turned him to this, nor indicate what it has to do with Nocturne. These cracks are painted over by the beautiful Mark Bagley artwork, which is perfect for Spider-Man, all slender figures and clean lines. It’s 90’s but that takes nothing from how well this story works, or how beautiful it looks. It’s not an incredible issue, but Damn, I’m intrigued.
Art: 5 out of 5 (C’mon it’s Bagley on Spider-Man)
Writing: 3 out of 5
Overall: 8 out of 10
Some entertaining beats in an interesting opening chapter.
Next Time: Another first issue from the Age of Apocalypse.