Mr. Negative is one of the more prominent villains in Spider-Man’s world of late. His status as a crime boss in the New York underworld would naturally bring him into conflict with The Hood, and it’s for this reason that he’s being given his own series under the Dark Reign banner. Whether or not he’s interesting enough to support such a series so soon after his creation does, however, remain to be seen.
Unlike most of the “Dark Reign” miniseries released in the last few months, this one does seem to have wider relevance in the ongoing tapestry of the Marvel Universe. Admittedly, it’s more related to “Amazing Spider-Man” than the events of Dark Reign, but it does give you information about Mr. Negative that will matter later on. Spidey fans, take note. It’s good to see Van Lente taking this opportunity to expand on Negative’s powers and origins in a way we’ve yet to see elsewhere.
Beyond that, the action focuses on the Hood and Negative’s gangland war, though there is just enough time for an appearance by everyone’s favorite wall-crawler too. Though, as you’ll see discover if you read the issue, there’s a fair reason why this isn’t a Spider-Man mini and is, instead, a Mr. Negative mini.
Pencils for the issue come from Gianluca Gugliotta. They’re perfectly adequate throughout, though for obvious reasons there’s a definite sense that Gugliotta is having more fun with the pages that feature Spider-Man than the rest of the book combined. That said, there are some nice moments elsewhere, such as the White Dragon’s re-entry to his hideout, or the White Rabbit (no relation) action scene.
Although Van Lente does a lot to expand Negative’s character and back story throughout the issue, there’s no denying that the appeal of the book lies mainly in seeing a lot of supervillains on the loose as much as in Negative himself. It’s not a harsh judgement to say that he’s still not that interesting as a stand-alone character — but a few more issues like this, and he might be.