“Avenging Spider-Man” #19 from Christopher Yost and Marco Checchetto is an interesting character study that yields some great little thoughts and plot progressions on the titular character. The idea behind this story is sound, even if the actual idea of the story isn’t as satisfying. Spider-Man and Sleepwalker team up to battle a fearworm that has attacked on the subway and found the wall-crawling hero something of interest.
The action of this issue breaks between the real world and the nightmare realms the fearworm takes Spider-Man into. This other place becomes an arena to discover some elements of Otto Octavius he would rather not think about. In many ways, the scenes are gripping if only due to the intriguing nature of glimpsing the inner psyche of the character. It’s a shame that the framing plot of Spider-Man fighting against this fearworm, and then Sleepwalker turning up, is so flat and relatively lifeless. This issue almost feels like it would have worked better without Sleepwalker and simply been an examination of Otto, but the because the book’s concept is a team-up, Sleepwalker gets panel time. Unfortunately, he isn’t used exceptionally well.
Marco Checchetto’s art is still spectacular in places. He breaks up his storytelling motions between the two different arenas of the story, crafting regular panels for the real world, while his nightmare realm has sloping and erratic panels like a broken window. The effect makes it simple to understand the location instantly on any given page. He sells the personal moments well enough with a mean-looking father to Otto, but it’s the majority of a double page splash that excites as Checchetto presents a monstrous, but beautifully intricate black octopus creature. The colors from Rachelle Rosenberg bring Checchetto’s line work to life in dark and moody ways.
“Avenging Spider-Man” #19 is a solid tale that delves into the psyche of the new Superior Spider-Man. The main thrust of the plot isn’t as gripping as the cerebral B-plot, but the art is enough to carry the thinness of the story. It’s a shame to see a niche character like Sleepwalker not given his own major plot element to be used instead of merely being a facilitator for a good deconstruction of the lead. Fans of this C-list character will be disappointed he isn’t utilized to better effect.