WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man #24 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Mark Morales, Cliff Rathburn, Nathan Fairbairn and VC's Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
When you've been fighting crime for more than 50 years like Spider-Man has, sometimes it can be difficult for new villains to be established as credible threats. For example, there are decades' worth of stories about the Green Goblin, Venom and Doctor Octopus, yet readers are hungry to devour even more tales starring the familiar foes.
But all it takes for a new villain to click with an audience is the right mix of intrigue, mystery and a drawn-out reveal of who the character really is. That's the strategy Marvel Comics implemented when writer Nick Spencer and artist Ryan Ottley relaunched The Amazing Spider-Man for its "Fresh Start" initiative.
The Amazing Spider-Man #1's main story depicted New York's greatest heroes fighting an invasion by alien bugs. However, it was revealed to be the latest scheme from the Master of Illusion, Mysterio. After his apprehension by Spider-Man, Mysterio's court case appeared in a backup story by Spencer and artist Humberto Ramos, and introduced a mysterious individual covered in bandages, torn jacket and hood. He also appeared to command an army of vermin, with rats, worms and other bugs obeying his orders.
The character has appeared sparingly since then, always remaining in the shadows while keeping a close eye on Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego. However, as Marvel gears up for The Amazing Spider-Man #25, its penultimate issue finally gives readers a name to this frightening nemesis.
Part of Mysterio's sentencing at the Ravencroft Institute includes psychiatric sessions. We get to sit in on the latest appointment in Issue 24, and his newest doctor is a little skeptical of Mysterio's backstory. You see, the villain took his own life during the "Guardian Devil" story arc in Daredevil and was sent to Hell, according to his own words. Of course, he mysteriously came back to life to pester Spider-Man, with the cause of his resurrection left unresolved.
The shadowy psychiatrist begins to break Mysterio down as he gives his theory on the villain's life and death -- the doctor believes his death is just a hallucination; a side effect of years of illusions that have now taken a toll on his psyche. Right when the psychiatrist is almost on the verge of a breakthrough with Mysterio, the session is interrupted by the entrance of the frightening new villain.
The mysterious figures begins to insist his name be spoken aloud, although Mysterio is hesitant to oblige. Finally, the new villain uses his insects to rip Mysterio to shreds before revealing his name: Kindred.
Although Kindred's identity and powers are still unknown, we've gotten a few clues about what abilities he may possess. Kindred has somehow haunted Spider-Man's mind, projecting himself into Peter's dreams while killing Mysterio. When Spider-Man was fighting Kraven the Hunter during "Hunted," Peter saw visions of Mary Jane bloodied and possibly dead; Kindred was behind it all.
Kindred reveals to Mysterio that he really did die and go to Hell, and that he's the one who pulled him out of Limbo. Assuming he's telling the truth, that means Kindred has some pretty impressive powers to be able to revive the dead. Kindred also knows Spider-Man is Peter Parker, meaning they may have some type of familiarity with one another.
The solicitation for next month's The Amazing Spider-Man #25 doesn't outright say we'll learn who the bandaged villain is, but an oversized issue is just the place to make that kind of big reveal. Is he someone from Spider-Man's past? And why is he so obsessed with the web-head? The clock is ticking on these revelations.