Two months ago, I was unexpectedly impressed with the high quality of "Amazing Spider-Man" Extra #2 -- so much so that it convinced me that the series was worth following. It occupies an odd place in continuity, telling stories that seem almost essential to understanding the ongoing plot of "Amazing Spider-Man," but not entirely.
The first of the three stories is an epilogue to “Character Assassination”, where we discover the fate of Vinny, see the return of Flash Thompson (following up Guggenheim's previous Flash story) and witness Spidey pay a visit to the Night Nurse. As a story, it's frankly all over the place. Between two artists and almost entirely disconnected narratives, it feels like two stories mashed together, and not convincingly so. The scenes dealing with the regular cast feel important enough to have been in the main title, and the in-story flashbacks are entirely the opposite –- throwaway and out-of-character.
The second story is less plot-critical, telling a flashback story of when Harry was younger and Norman was, for a moment, a “real” dad to him -- though only as much as Norman Osborn ever could be. The relationship between Harry and Norman is one of the more intriguing parts of the post-“One More Day” Spider-Man status quo, and even if it’s not directly related to any ongoing stories, this short look at their past is thematically important. Continuity fans, however, will be interested to know that it contains what appears to be the first post-“Character Assassination” meeting between Harry and Lily. It’s also written by Joe Kelly, who will soon take the reins for the next big Spidey story, the Osborn-centric “American Son,” so if you want a taster of how Kelly approaches these characters, this is the place.
Finally, Phil Jiminez writes and draws a story about the new Kraven. In this case, it’s a prelude to yet another forthcoming arc -- “Sinister 666” -- but you wouldn’t really know it, except for the teaser blurb at the end. It’s a decent enough short, though of all the stories, it feels most like it should’ve been a full issue by itself.
Overall, then, “Amazing Spider-Man Extra” does still seem to exist to plug continuity gaps, but it does so in a way that adds texture to the Spider-verse while keeping the stories generally optional. The bimonthly series has yet to find its feet, but so far, it’s been more good than bad. The strength of the series is that it offers sneak peeks of exactly where the characters are going to turn up next, and what they’re doing when they’re out of the main title. That being the case, “Amazing Spider-Man” fans should really just treat it as another issue of the ongoing, and I’m happy to say that it does hold up to that level of scrutiny.