Warning! Spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #60 ahead!
Spider-Man has been referred to as the world’s greatest hero, but in recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Kindred lays out a striking argument against Parker. Though Peter vowed to always act responsibly after indirectly causing the death of his Uncle Ben, his track-record has proven both destructive and deadly for those closest to him.
After Dan Slott’s 10-year-long run received generally mixed reviews from readers, writer Nick Spencer returned the Amazing Spider-Man title to its roots, essentially rebuilding the Spider-Man archetype from the ground-up. Along the way, Spencer plotted the arrival of Kindred, a new villain with an intimate relationship to Parker’s past. Kindred knows the ins and outs of Parker’s life, including his enemies, friends, and loved ones. Fan theories regarding Kindred’s identity abounded – but his identity as Harry Osborn is finally revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #53. The first phase of Kindred’s plan comes to fruition when he manages to capture Peter in Amazing Spider-Man #54, and in issue 55 he hits Spidey where it hurts on all fronts.
Alone with Peter, Kindred tortures him while sowing doubts and guilt into his head. After Kindred reveals his identity, Spider-Man is distraught, but this distress turns to anguish as Kindred not only kills and revives Peter over and over again, but brings up his worst sins. Namely, Peter’s mishandling of Norman Osborn’s early reign of terror as the Green Goblin. After Norman suffered from amnesia, Peter chose to keep the Green Goblin’s identity secret. To Peter, this was a matter of protecting his loved ones – but Kindred asserts Peter’s motivations were purely selfish. According to Kindred, it was not out of concern for others Peter kept Norman’s identity secret, it was because Norman no longer remembered Peter’s identity as Spider-Man. While conversing with Kindred, Spider-Man blames his past mistakes on his youth. However, even as Spider-Man grew and matured he made decisions that proved fatal for others. Spider-Man sided with Tony Stark during the Civil War crossover event. Virtually everyone saw the Super Human Registration Act and its director Tony Stark as authoritarian in nature. But Peter gave Stark the benefit of a doubt, even going as far as unmasking on live television.
One of Spidey’s most devastating mistakes is a lesser-known one. In Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1 Charlie, a longtime friend (and possible ex-lover) of Wolverine goes on a warpath against the KGB agents who previously employed her as an assassin. Determining that her former employers are out to kill her, Charlie took it upon herself to wipe them out. Wolverine realizes the killings as telltale signs of Charlie’s handiwork and tracks her down. He learns Charlie wants him to kill her, since the KGB will torture her once they get her. Spidey arrives on the scene and intervenes. Wolverine and Spider-Man engage in a savage battle with Wolverine telling the wall-crawler he’d have to kill him to stop him. The chaos of the fighting leads to the two disengaging. Charlie sneaks up behind an enraged Spider-Man, who mistakes her for Wolverine. Peter spins around and, due to his spider-strength, kills Charlie with a single punch. Once again, Spidey’s desire to do the right thing ultimately results in the death of someone he wished to save.
After teasing for several issues, in Amazing Spider-Man #60, Spencer finally ties everything back to Peter’s deal with Mephisto by revealing the devilish deal-maker at the end of the issue. Earlier in the issue, Peter himself has a self-help therapy session at the behest of Mary Jane, where he admits Kindred may be right about him. From the death of Uncle Ben to Gwen Stacy’s demise, to even bringing the spawn of an evil alien god to earth, the through-line of Peter’s life is comprised of his heroic desires ultimately bringing more pain than they’ve spared.
Despite his heroism, all of the mistakes made by Spider-Man can be traced back to his vow to Uncle Ben. Kindred says he wanted Spider-Man to accept his invitation – to face the “truth.” Peter is so disturbed by Kindred’s assertions that he lashes out and violently beats a “cured” Norman Osborn before eventually coming to his senses and stopping. Once Kindred’s truth is laid bare, Peter reacts with anger and denial towards Norman. After Doctor Strange uncovers Spider-Man’s previous dealings with Mephisto, he discovers a startling secret regarding Peter Parker’s very soul. What this entails, and how it ties into Kindred’s arrival remains to be revealed – but it seems certain Peter will finally have to face the music in regards to his deal with Mephisto and devil’s machinations on his life.