Tag Archives: dan slott

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #700 – “Final” Issue!

Amazing Spider-Man #700
Writer: Dan Slott [Back-up stories by J.M. DeMatteis and Jen Van Meter]
Art: Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks] and Edgar Delgado [Colors] [Art on back-ups by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sal Buscema, Antonio Fabela and Stephanie Buscema]

[SPOILER ALERT:  THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS THAT YOU PROBABLY ALREADY SAW ON THE INTERNET A FEW WEEKS AGO]

Amazing Spider-Man #700Given the way spoilers for this issue leaked a few weeks ago, it’s likely that you might already have your mind made up about it. As the “final” issue of Amazing Spider-Man, #700 is also the highest number any Marvel comic has ever reached, and it just happened to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the series’ first issue. (Now it kind of makes sense why they did the thrice-monthly and bi-monthly schedules the last few years, huh?  Solid planning.)

Anyways, the book’s final storyline has seen Dr. Octopus swap his consciousness from his dying body into the body of Spider-Man and vice-versa.  Peter Parker, now in Doc Ock’s body, is using that body’s final hours to try to swap the consciousnesses back into the right bodies.

I think we’ve covered before that mind-swap stories are one of two types of stories I hate because I can’t suspend disbelief for them.  (The other type is time travel, because the minute you go to another time period and do anything, you risk creating a time paradox that screws up everything that happens from then on.)

Spoiler alert: Peter Parker fails to swap minds back into the right body and dies in Doc Ock’s body, while Ock will be Spider-Man from now on in Peter Parker’s body. The catch is that, since Ock has all of Peter’s memories, Peter pulled a fast one on him at the end of #700 and made him remember everything that ever happened to him, thus somehow turning him “good.” This is the set-up fornext month’s new series, Superior Spider-Man. I think I’ve reached my jumping-off point.

The one thing that’s been pushed on Spidey fans lately is that Doc Ock is somehow Spider-Man’s greatest enemy of all time. As someone who has read Spider-Man comics for nearly 20 years (I’m including the period of time where Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man in the mid-90s even though I hated that idea, quit reading new issues for several years at that time and only bought back issues), I’ve never cared much for Ock. Spider-Man consistently beat him so decisively time and again so much that he had to get a bunch of other villains together as the Sinister Six to help him out. And even then, he still couldn’t hurt Spider-Man on the same level as the Green Goblin.  In my book, Norman Osborn will always be the arch-enemy because he killed Gwen Stacy. What did Ock do besides sleeping with Aunt May and being an occasional annoyance? He should’ve stayed dead after Kaine killed him during the Clone Saga.

Which brings up another issue: Does anyone really believe that Peter Parker is going to stay “dead” and that Doc Ock won’t eventually end up in his own body? If Peter isn’t back from the dead, in his own body, bythe time the sequel to Amazing Spider-Man hits theaters, then he will be by the time they make another movie with Dr. Octopus as the villain. Only the “Forever Dead Four” (Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Bruce Wayne’s parents) stay dead in comics, especially now that the big companies want to make things as accessible as possible to the casual readers they hope will buy these books after seeing the movies.  They need an easy in, and how do you explain to someone who’s never picked up an issue that Doc Ock is now Spider-Man, but in Peter Parker’s body, without opening the floodgates of confusion. Peter Parker and Doc Ock both will be back sooner or later, just like Captain America, Professor X (multiple times), Jean Grey (again, multiple times), Batman, Superman, and many others before them.

That said, this issue is very well written and I did enjoy reading it. Humberto Ramos turns in the best art of his career here, as well. Hell, it’s even the best art on the book this entire year (no offense to anyone else who worked on the book this year), and that’s coming from a guy who used to be on the fence about the guy’s art.

Look, I’ve loved Slott’s entire run on the book, but I’m just not feeling the new direction. I’ve got nothing against the guy.  At least, unlike some people you may have heard about through various media sources, I have enough class to not threaten the guy’s life over a comic book story. If you feel like me and see this as a good jumping off point, I recommend Batman and Batman & Robin, which arguably the two best superhero books out right now.

As for the issue’s two back-up stories, they’re both short, fun stories that exist, as far as I know, outside of continuity. Are they filler? I don’t know, but I really liked the one by DeMatteis.  I do wish this issue had some more of the gag pages like #600, but I guess there was plenty here to justify the $7.99 price tag. (Be still, my throbbing wallet.)

STORY: 9/10 (It was well-done.  I just don’t care for the direction.)
ART: 10/10

 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 – ‘Morbius The Living Vampire’ Preview

Amazing Spider-Man #699.1
Writer: Joe Keatinge with Dan Slott
Art: Valentine Delandro with Marco Checchetto, Antonio Fabela [Color Art]

Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 isn’t so much a Spider-Man comic as it is a preview for the upcoming Morbius The Living Vampire solo series.

Morbius has been a long-running sometimes-villain, sometimes-ally of Spider-Man since his debut in 1971’s Amazing Spider-Man #101.  Recently, he relapsed into his old bloodlusting ways and found himself in the Marvel Universe’s maximum security supervillain prison, The Raft.  This issue picks up during the prison break from issue #699, and has Morbius reflecting on his childhood and (you guessed it!) origin during his escape.

The new details added by Keatinge are a nice touch to the character and do more to flesh him out while giving newer readers a recap of who he is and how he became “The Living Vampire.” It makes sense that Marvel would give him his own solo book right now given the current popularity of vampires, even if Morbius isn’t technically a vampire in the classical sense.  Then again, the “vampires” that are popular right now aren’t real vampires, either, so there’s that.

Either way, I enjoyed this issue more than I thought I would and am actually intrigued by the idea of this series now.  Definitely worth a read for fans and anyone interested in the premise.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #699 – Maybe it’s not so bad after all…

Amazing Spider-Man #699
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos [Penciler], Victor Olazaba [Inker], Edgar Delgado [Color Art]

[HEY!  LOOK!  THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS, AND YOU MIGHT FEEL CHEATED IF YOU READ IT BEFORE YOU SEE THE ACTUAL BOOK!]

While I’ve calmed down about the big reveal last issue, it’s still a touchy subject.  If you missed it, a dying Doc Ock swapped brains with Peter Parker, hinting that the “new” Spider-Man in the upcoming relaunch of the book as Superior Spider-Man is actually Doc Ock in Peter’s body.

It’s not that I didn’t like the way it was written–Dan Slott’s writing makes me really want to like the story.  It’s just that there are two types of stories I hate–stories centered around mind swaps and time travel (we’ll get to that another time, maybe, because Slott has actually written a time travel story that I like).  I already know the response to this assertion, too.  It’s a comic bookScience fiction.  Real world logic and plausibility don’t apply.

Fair enough, but the limits of everyone’s suspension of disbelief are different, and this is why we probably won’t ever see Fin Fang Foom in an Iron Man film.

That said, let’s completely suspend disbelief for the rest of this review even if the concept is a bit much to wrap our heads around.  This issue, and the story as a whole, are very well-written.  Amazing Spider-Man #699 opens with Doc Ock’s body being revived following its flat-lining at the end of the last issue. Upon being revived (and spat on by a prison nurse), Peter Parker–keep in mind, again, that his mind is in Doc Ock’s body now with all of Ock’s memories and vice versa–examines the situation he’s in and begins trying to figure out how, with only hours left to live, he’s going to get out of this predicament and back into his own body.

After searching Ock’s memories, and giving us the totally unnecessary reveal that Aunt May had sex with Otto back in the day, Peter realizes that every time he used Otto’s own Octobot control helmet tech to stop him, he made his mind vulnerable.  Ock was then able to somehow put his brainwaves in the golden Octobot (seen occasionally since the end of “Ends of the Earth”), which then made its way to New York City and “hacked” Spider-Man’s mind when he was otherwise distracted by the spider signal jammers from the recent Hobgoblin story arc.

Pete then figures out that the golden Octobot had a mental link with Otto and takes control of it to put into action a plan that his life now depends on–forming his own Sinister Six–which includes Hydro-Man, Scorpion, and Paste-Pot Pete–to break him out of prison and capture Otto-Spidey.

As I said before, Slott’s writing on this story is still great despite my lack of enthusiasm over the premise.  You can tell he put a lot of time into planning this out at least as far back as the beginning of his run on the book with “Big Time,” and maybe even as far back as 2009’s Amazing Spider-Man #600. Humberto Ramos’ art in this issue is some of his best so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ve read is the best art of his career later this month in #700.

Overall, not a bad issue.  I really could have done without being presented the idea of Aunt May and Dr. Octopus having sex, though.

RATING:  7/10 (Because Aunt May having sex with anyone is just kind of gross.)

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #698 – WHY, DAN?! WHYYYYYYYYYY?!

Amazing Spider-Man #698
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Richard Elson and Antonio Fabela [Color Art]

 

WARNING:  THIS REVIEW HAS MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS FOR AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698 AND BEYOND.  DO NOT READ IT IF YOU PLAN ON READING THE ISSUE.

Dan Slott, you broke my heart.

Ever since your run on Amazing Spider-Man began last year, I’ve been one of its biggest supporters, going so far as to compare it to the Michelinie and Stern runs.  And then you did it.  You drove that spike in my heart that was like a thousand One More Days.

Actually, that’s a terrible analogy.  I actually liked One More Day.  Comparing that spike to 1,000 Clone Sagas or Ben-Reilly-replacing-Peter-Parker scenarios or JMS runs is far more accurate.

But the point is, you shook my faith in my favorite series.  You weren’t the first, though.

When I was nine years old, I quit reading new issues for five years because of the ridiculousness of the aforementioned Clone Saga and (temporary/retconned) replacement of Peter by his clone, Ben Reilly.  What you have done here, though, may be impossible for me to recover from.

Amazing Spider-Man #698 begins with a reminder that Doc Ock is on his death bed, with only hours left to live.  He’s struggling to say something, and it turns out what he’s trying to say is, “Peter Parker.”  For the rest of the issue, longtime readers will notice that the way Slott has written Peter’s dialogue and inner monologue is strange, and we eventually find out why when Spider-Man is summoned by the Avengers to the Raft (the ultra high security prison for supervillains) because Ock’s about to die and he keeps saying the name of Spidey’s secret identity.

And then, once the two are in the room, we get the big reveal.  We now know why Peter’s words sound so strange in this issue.

It’s because one of the most ridiculous and asinine predictions for what would happen in the “Dying Wish”/Amazing Spider-Man #700 arc ended up being true–Doc Ock somehow switched his consciousness into Peter Parker’s body and vice versa, and Ock’s body dies with Peter’s mind trapped inside.

I’ll probably still buy #699 and #700 just to have a complete run up through the “final” issues of Amazing Spider-Man–and I’ll probably still buy Superior Spider-Man #1, because, well, eBay–but for the first time in about five years, I’m not all that excited about the next issue of Spider-Man.

On the bright side, I can’t imagine this being something that sticks in the long term.  For the foreseeable future, however, it might be time to move on to something else.

RATING:  It’s gonna harsh your mellow, man…but at least the art is good.

 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #697 – War of the Goblins Concludes!

Amazing Spider-Man #697
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Dan Green [Inks], and Antonio Fabela [Colors]

Opening where the last issue left off, Amazing Spider-Man #697 has Peter Parker and Horizon Labs owner Max Modell on the run from both the original Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley) and his would-be replacement, Phil Urich–who are also fighting one another.  If you recall, Max helped Peter escape from the Kingpin’s HQ in Hell’s Kitchen while stealing the “Goblin Key” in the process, and was even nice enough to bring him a couple of Spider-Man’s webshooters from his lab. (Remember, Max doesn’t know Pete is Spider-Man.  He only knows that Pete develops Spider-Man’s gadgets and weaponry.)

While running, it’s revealed that Max is wearing a force field that he still has in development and that OG Hobgoblin has a back-up plan in case Philgoblin tries to attack him–a batdrone loaded with C-4 and following Daily Bugle reporter Norah Winters.  The Goblin Key, which opens Norman Osborn’s main Green Goblin cache, begins to ping, alerting Peter and Max that they aren’t far from its location.  Ending up there, they lock themselves inside and try to develop a plan to save themselves from the two Hobgoblins.

This was another expertly crafted issue from Dan Slott and Christos Gage.  It had fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action and gave the feeling that there was legitimate danger for characters like Max and Norah, who Dan Slott has really given readers a reason to care about during his run on the series.  We also get to catch up with Harry Osborn, who hasn’t been seen in about 50 issues and is now laying low in Seattle with a totally different look, and Roderick Kingsley’s character is expanded upon in a way that totally makes sense.  The two writers also continue to pave the way for December’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 (which I’m really unhappy is the last issue in the series just so a new series with a new #1 can be launched), planting more seeds with the rogue Octobot last seen at the end of this year’s “Ends of the Earth” storyline and the awakening from coma of… Well, you’ll have to read the issue for that, because it’s a big spoiler that’s bound to play into that monumental anniversary issue.

As for the art, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Co. remain on par with the first two parts of this story, delivering work that (and I’m not stretching the truth at all when I say this) reminds me at times of John Romita Sr.’s classic run on the book.  I’m not saying it’s the same, but the influence is very much noticeable and definitely a good thing.

Amazing Spider-Man #697 and the two issues before it are undeniably must-reads.

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!

 

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #696 – Battle of the Hobgoblins!

Amazing Spider-Man #696
Writers:  Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Dan Green [Inks], and Antonio Fabela [Colors]

When the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, was shown alive and well in South America, it was inevitable that he would eventually return to the scene to take on his successor/impostor Phil Urich–especially once Kingsley was shown arriving back in New York City.

At the end of the last issue, Philgoblin had kidnapped Peter Parker, who was distracted by the spider sense jammers placed around the city by Urich’s employer, the Kingpin, and the fat guy’s mole at Horizon Labs, Tiberius Stone.  Meanwhile, Julia Carpenter, the current Madame Web, went into convulsions in the port authority bus terminal and tried to warn Peter about her psychic visions one last time before going into a coma, which is where we catch up with her at the beginning of this issue before things pan over to Kingpin’s headquarters in Shadowland/Hell’s Kitchen.

Kingpin and Philgoblin make an ultimatum with Parker–he lives if Spider-Man delivers the briefcase he took from Philgoblin at the beginning of the previous issue.  Peter tells the two that he has no way of contacting Spider-Man because he does so via Spider-Man’s spider sense, and the spider sense jammers are currently blocking that.  Philgoblin then decides they’d be better off e-mailing a hostage video to Max Modell, owner of Horizon Labs and Peter’s boss, who then delivers the briefcase himself–which we find out holds the key that unlocks Norman Osborn’s largest cache, containing everything from his Goblin tech to the secrets he amassed as the Iron Patriot when he was in charge of the H.A.M.M.E.R. national security agency and the Dark Avengers.

While this is going on, we find out that the real Hobgoblin is doing his research on Philgoblin and knows that he’s obsessed with Daily Bugle reporter Norah Winters and that his uncle is reporter and longtime Spider-Man supporting cast member Ben Urich.  He shows up and conveniently distracts Kingpin, Philgoblin, and the dozens of Kingpin’s Hand ninja henchmen, allowing Peter and Max a window of opportunity to escape, but not before Peter finds a way to destroy the central transmitter for the spider sense jammers and snatches the “Goblin Key” from Kingpin’s possession.

Overall, this was a great second part to the “Danger Zone” story arc.  The Hobgoblin battle was a given from the moment Kinglsey returned, and it was played out very well. Dan Slott and Christos Gage also do a great job here of once again hammering home the idea that Phil Urich is a “dark reflection” of Peter Parker by drawing parallels to his “Uncle Ben” Urich and Norah Winters’ potential Gwen Stacy-esque fate.  There’s a lot stuffed in this issue, and a lot of questions are raised–particularly as to whether or not various people are connecting the dots when it comes to Pete’s secret identity.  The art here is also fantastic, though there are a couple of weird panels on the third page that have a lot of random black dots (all over the background on the second panel, and all over Philgoblin on the fifth).

Regardless, this issue maintains a fast, action-packed pace and ends on yet another cliffhanger.  I can’t wait to see what happens next, and isn’t that the way all comics in the superhero genre should be?

RATING: EXCELSIOR!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #695 – Sick Sense

Amazing Spider-Man #700
Writers:  Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Dan Green [Inks], Antonio Fabela [Colors]

After spending the better part of nearly two years believing Dan Slott had killed him off, fans can rest assured knowing that the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, is back in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.

And he ain’t happy about the guy who took up his mantle.

The issue starts with Spider-Man interrupting a briefcase heist being committed by current Hobgoblin and Kingpin muscle Phil Urich.  Philgoblin, as we’ll call him from here on out, has a trick up his sleeve, though.  Shady Horizon Labs scientist Tiberius Stone is on an adjacent rooftop ready to activate a spider sense jammer, but the plan backfires and enhances Spider-Man’s senses.  Narrowly escaping, Hobgoblin flies off with Stone in tow, but not before Spidey spots them.

Looking for answers, Spider-Man heads to Horizon as Peter Parker to ask his boss, Max Modell, if he knows where Stone is.  It turns out, however, that Daily Bugle reporter Sally Floyd is at Horizon writing a profile on the tech company, and someone let it slip that Pete “provides technology” to Spider-Man.  Naturally, Pete is instantly concerned that the story might allow people once again being able to put two-and-two together about him being Spider-Man (Dr. Strange–or Mephisto, if you’re still inexplicably angry about “One More Day”–fixed that for him after Civil War by implementing a psychic blind spot).

Heading to the Daily Bugle to try and convince Editor-in-Chief Robbie Robertson to cut that part of the story, he runs into Norah Winters and Phil Urich in the office right as Stone switches on amped-up spider-jammers citywide.  Elsewhere, Madame Web’s psychic powers go into a frenzy and she projects her consciousness out into the city to deliver a message to Pete, right as the jammers are sending his spider sense into a frenzy and distracting him long enough for… Well, you’ll find out if you read the issue.

Dan Slott and Christos Gage craft a perfect beginning to the “Danger Zone” arc, raising questions about Madame Web’s fate and teasing us with a brief page of Roderick Kingsley.  It’s already obvious that there’s an impending Goblin throwdown being set up, but if this is going the direction of once again revealing Pete’s identity to the world at large, one has to wonder what the point of the retcon a few years ago was.  Regardless, this issue’s tone is perfect and, having read The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 2, in the last several months, I frequently found myself comparing it to the Lee/Romita Sr. run–definitely a good thing.  Even Giuseppe Camuncoli, Dan Green, and Antonio Fabela felt more “classic” than what I’m used to seeing.

It’s gonna be a long two weeks waiting for the next issue…

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #694 – The 50th Anniversary story arc concludes!

Amazing Spider-Man #694
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], and Edgar Delgado [Colors]

If Amazing Spider-Man #692 and 693 were about introducing Alpha, then this week’s #694 is all about setting the character up for his next chapter–whenever that may be.

Deciding to take a break from his research at Horizon Labs, Peter Parker heads out to the airport to say goodbye to his Aunt May and her husband, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., before they head back to Boston.  As is the case when he has something to do or somewhere to be, he’s interrupted.  The Avengers request his help fighting off Terminus, who’s once again intent on taking over the Earth.

The Avengers unfortunately have the bright idea of having Spider-Man summon Alpha, and the egotistical teen hero with more power than everyone else present darts across the world from Japan to lay the smackdown on Terminus.  This causes problems, as the fight takes place above the airport and Alpha’s irresponsible use of his powers short circuits all of the planes currently in the air–including the jet carrying May and Jonah Sr.  Naturally, the day is saved, but as soon as Alpha leaves, Spider-Man and the Avengers all agree his powers, created in a lab accident by Peter’s “Parker Particles,” must go.

But, irreparable damage may have already been done.

Dan Slott packs a lot of great moments into this issue, continuing to showcase Alpha as an extraordinarily unlikeable character.  At least two recurring members of Spidey’s supporting casts get apparent status quo changes here, as well.  Seeing Peter act in a more stern, almost parental-like manner was different for a change, and I especially enjoyed Dan’s nod to all of the people who are unclear as to whether or not Spider-Man is still a Future Foundation member.  Combine this with Ramos’ art and a nice lead-in to the “Danger Zone” arc and you’ve got a solid conclusion to Slott’s 50th Anniversary story arc.

RATING:  A Tantalizing Tale in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

*ALSO:  If you didn’t notice, this issue’s cover was an homage to a classic cover from when the “big two” comic publishers could play nice every now and then.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #693 – The Jackal returns!

Amazing Spider-Man #693
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], Edgar Delgado [Colors]

Last issue, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos gave Spider-Man a new sidekick for his 50th anniversary.  This issue, he deals with the direct aftermath of that.

Created by an accident during one of Peter Parker’s demonstrations at Horizon Labs, teenager Andy Maguire is now Alpha, potentially one of the world’s most powerful superhumans.  Peter being who he is takes on responsibility and, at the behest of Reed Richards, makes Alpha his sidekick.  Unfortunately, the kid’s kind of an egotistical jackass.

As the issue opens, Alpha has just taken out Fantastic Four villain Giganto with a single punch and left the FF and Spider-Man standing around scratching their heads.  Hoping to clear his head, Peter goes to Mary Jane’s nightclub to see if she can make sense of everything.  She points out to him that Alpha is only doing what Peter would have done had he not realized the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” bit as a result of Uncle Ben’s murder–and then Pete realizes everyone knows who Alpha is because he doesn’t wear a mask.

Rushing off to Maguire’s home as Spider-Man, he arrives too late and quickly realizes Andy and his family have been abducted by the clone-crazy Jackal.

Dan Slott wraps up Alpha’s introduction here fairly neatly.  The more you read of Alpha, the more you begin to hate the kid–and that’s pretty much the point.  The end of this issue sets up the future status quo between Spider-Man and his new sidekick, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out between now and issue #700, assuming this plot thread doesn’t continue beyond that point.  Additionally, this is the second time Slott has written the Jackal in the last few years, and I have to say it’s a big improvement over how the villain was written back in the Clone Saga.

Ramos’ art remains impressive here, although I still have a few qualms with some of the less-detailed panels where bodies have less detail and defy anatomical form [SEE: The panel of Spidey swinging toward MJ’s club on the second page].  At his most highly-detailed, however, Ramos continues to be one of my favorite modern Spider-Man artists.

Overall, this was a great issue and a fitting end to Slott and Ramos’ 50th anniversary story.

RATING: 8.5/10

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #692 – Alpha is a D-Bag!


Review: Amazing Spider-Man #692
Story: 8/10 • Artwork: 9/10 • Overall 8.5/10

This could have been a great issue but it came off pretty bland. Expected better from Dan Slott but Humberto Ramos still rocks every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. All in all it gets us one issue closer to issue #700.

Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #692
Written by Dan Slott. Illustrated by Humberto Ramos.

• Special 50TH Anniversary Issue!
• Join us for a once in a lifetime event: the one, true 50th Anniversary Issue of the Amazing Spider-Man.
• A special over-sized issue harkening back to the legend the legend that started it all! Get ready for an all-new tale about a different kind of power and responsibility…
• Plus original stories by Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov & Nuno Plati!

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Review: Amazing Spider-Man #692 – 50th Anniversary Spectacular!

Amazing Spider-Man #692
Writer: Dan Slott, with back-up stories by Dean Kaspiel and Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art:  Humberto Ramos [Pencils], Victor Olazaba [Inks], Edgar Delgado [Colors], plus Dean Kaspiel [Art] & Giulia Brusco [Colors] and Nuno Plati [Art] on back-up stories

Spider-Man’s first appearance was 50 years ago this month in Amazing Fantasy #15.  Sure, that issue was probably actually released in June because it’s only cover-dated August, but these are minor details.  This month is widely regarded as Spider-Man’s “birthday,” so Amazing Spider-Man #692 is the super-sized 50th anniversary spectacular you would expect Marvel to release with the hefty price tag of $5.99.  (Seriously, Marvel… Kids see that price tag and think “I could buy an action figure for that same price! Why bother?”  Maybe a return to news pulp for lower cover prices is in the cards.)

Regardless of the price tag, Marvel and their Spider Office give fans a good bang for their six bucks here.

The big plot point of ASM #692’s main story–written, of course, by fan-favorite Spider-Scribe Dan Slott–was spoiled a month or two back, because passing up any opportunity for media exposure is a missed opportunity to score figurative new readers and that trumps the element of surprise in today’s comic book market.  If you hadn’t already heard, Spider-Man gets a sidekick after 50 years of fighting crime on his own.

Well, on his own except for when he’s a member of the Avengers.  And the New Avengers.  And the Future Foundation/Fantastic 4.  And all of those team-up books, issues, and stories.

But those are all different scenarios.  Spider-Man has never had a sidekick, and that’s because when he first became Spider-Man, he was only 14 or 15 years old.  That’s standard sidekick age in most superhero books, and probably the average age of most of Batman’s Robins when he first took them in.  Stan Lee created Spidey as the exception to the rule–the boy who would be a (super)man.

Anyhow, I digress.  As the issue begins, we’re introduced to mediocre teenager Andy Maguire.  (Get it?  Because the two motion picture Spider-Men are Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield?  I see what you did there, Slott!)  Andy’s a kid who goes by unnoticed by everyone, including his parents, because not failing is good enough for him.  C-average student, no extracurricular activities, not part of any “cliques” at school… He just kind of exists and barely gets by, but wants more.

He ends up forging his dad’s signature on a permission slip for a field trip to a Horizon Labs demonstration where Peter Parker is unveiling the newly discovered “Parker Particles.”  An accident occurs after Horizon scientist Tyberius Stone, who secretly moonlights for the Kingpin, disengages the safety measures, resulting in Maguire getting zapped and ending up with super powers.  His parents try to sue Horizon, and the world’s foremost experts on superhumans–Reed Richards, Beast, Tony Stark, and Hank Pym–are brought in to study Maguire, revealing that he now has energy projection abilities, super strength, force field projection, and flight, but can only use one power at a time.  Additionally, Reed Richards reveals that he had already discovered “Parker Particles” years before and never made their existence public because they increase in power exponentially, saying that where threats like the Hulk or Phoenix are “Omega-Level Threats,” Maguire is the first “Alpha-Level Threat.”  He tells Peter that the kid is his responsibility, and Horizon’s head honcho Max Modell offers Maguire’s parents coverage for all medical expenses and a lucrative contract instead of a settlement.

Thus, Andy Maguire becomes Alpha, Horizon Labs’ new face and corporate spokesman, and Peter is placed in charge of the Alpha Project. Of course, Maguire is no Peter Parker and all of the new power and fame goes to his head, but let’s not spoil everything, huh?

Slott does a great job of building up Andy Maguire’s character here and really puts you in his shoes at the onset of the story.  Spider-Man with a sidekick is fairly uncharted territory, and the difference in the two’s powers, as well as Alpha’s cocky demeanor, can only complicate things.  Judging by the villain reveal on the last page of the book, things ain’t getting simple anytime soon, either.  Humberto Ramos also delivers some of his best art to date on this issue.  His style has grown so much since his first issue of the book (#648) almost seems like a different artist, and the faces he draws remind me more and more of Todd McFarlane’s style every time I see his art.  Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado definitely make the art pop that much more with their vibrant ink and color jobs.

As for the back-up stories, Dean Haspiel’s “Spider-Man For A Night” draws on Amazing Spider-Man #50, exploring what happened with Spider-Man’s costume on the night that he decided to be “Spider-Man No More” with a conclusion that tugs at the heart-strings.  The story and art are both beautifully done, and the same can be said story-and-art-wise for Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati’s “Just Right,” which finds Pete going through a typical “Parker luck” type of day before ultimately helping someone else have a great day.

Overall, a fitting 50th anniversary issue.  One might be inclined to feel that there could have been a few more shorter features or gag pages (you do get a page with all five of Marcos Martin’s “Spider-Man Through The Decades” variant covers), but Amazing Spider-Man #700 is right around the corner in December, and that’s sure to have plenty of that sort of material if it’s laid out anything like #600 was.  Regardless, I’m definitely interested in seeing where the whole Alpha thing goes, especially with the villain reveal, and the two back-up stories were a great addition.  At least it felt like you were getting a couple of issues for the $5.99 price tag.

Rating: 9/10

P.S. As an aside, I can’t figure out why Marvel would keep The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 out of print during the character’s 50th anniversary year.  Somebody should figure this out, because I have Vol. 2 and no Vol. 1, and spending $200+ for one on eBay would kind of suck.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #691 – Return of the Reptile!

Amazing Spider-Man #691
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli & Mario Del Pennino [Pencils], Klaus Janson & Daniel Green [Inks], and Frank D’Armata [Colors]

Concluding Dan Slott’s Lizard epic, “No Turning Back,” Amazing Spider-Man #691 finds Spider-Man face-to-face with the Lizard-in-human-form Curt Connors back at Horizon Labs.

If you’ve missed an issue or two, Spider-Man seemingly turned the Lizard back into Curt Connors in Amazing Spider-Man #688 with the help of Morbius, but the Lizard personality was still in control.  After causing Morbius to lose control of his vampiric hunger as a means of distracting Spidey, Lizard-Connors got to work trying to return himself to his reptilian form while testing his formula on unsuspecting members of the Horizon team.  Ultimately, however, he discovered through a series of new sensory experiences that the human body was the superior form.

At the beginning of this issue, having taken care of Morbius in an uncharacteristically merciless fashion, Spider-Man returns to Horizon to find it overrun by lizard people–but all is not what it seems.  The Horizon Labs lizard people are all behaving rather friendly, and per Horizon team member and “amateur herpetologist” Sajani, Spider-Man is informed that humans and lizards are not natural enemies–with the exception of the Komodo dragon.  Thus, he is lead to believe that perhaps Curt Connors’ own resentment for the loss of his arm, his wife, and his son was the driving force behind the Lizard’s villainous ways all these years.

It’s an interesting and different take on the character, but before you can consider it for very long, Lizard-Connors’ hand is forced by Spider-Man’s return and he injects himself with a new, improved formula that transforms him into a much sleeker, almost gecko-like form as he promises that this time, there’s no returning to human form.  It’s actually pretty close to his original appearance, as opposed to the more iguana- or Komodo-like shape he’s taken on over the years.  Ultimately, to the Lizard’s surprise, bits of his humanity have begun to seep through, leaving him distracted as Spider-Man tries out yet another cure serum on him, and the results are somewhat surprising.

Overall, “No Turning Back” is another strong arc in Dan Slott’s superior run on Amazing Spider-Man, but it’s not without issue.  For a long-time Spider-Man fan, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe that Spidey would be so uncharacteristically merciless to a character like Morbius, who has been reformed for quite a while now and even saved the world in the Marvel Zombies 4 mini-series, assuming that’s canon.  I get that there’s been a lot on Peter Parker’s plate as of late and that all of this is leading into the upcoming “Danger Zone” arc and issue #700, which I’ve heard are supposed to be somewhat darker stories, but it just feels a little bit out of character in this instance.  Other than that, though, this arc was a fun roller coaster ride with fantastic art by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Co, and a recommended read for fans of the Lizard.  The joke about the annual Horizon softball game being people who were turned in lizards versus people who were turned into spiders last summer was an especially nice touch.

Oh, and speaking of “Danger Zone,” the lead-in tease at the end of this issue is sure to make Hobgoblin fans happy.

Rating: 9/10

Amazing Spider-Man #700 Predictions, Speculation, and Crackpot Theories

With the 700th issue of Amazing Spider-Man coming up this December, it’s only right that I, the Comic Vault’s resident diehard Spider-Man fan, weigh in on what may or may not happen in this momentous issue.  There are a lot of crazy theories floating around right now, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Current scribe (and the best writer on the book since Roger Stern or David Michelinie in my opinion) Dan Slott stated via cell phone at Comic Con a few weeks ago that this is going to be the biggest thing he’s ever done in comics, which is saying a lot coming from the guy who penned the phenomenal Amazing Spider-Man #600 just three years ago.  It’s even been said that what he’s doing in #700 will be so controversial among fans that he’ll have to go into hiding after the issue hits stands, or that this might possibly be his final arc on the book. (Damn you, “Marvel NOW!”)

With the ’90s Clone Saga and J. Michael Straczynski’s “Sins Past” and “One More Day” story arcs, Spider-Man fans have a high threshold for controversy.  At this point, what could possibly be more controversial at this point than Peter Parker’s clone Ben Reilly being revealed as the real Peter Parker and taking his place, Norman Osborn knocking up Gwen Stacy prior to her death, or Peter and Mary Jane trading their marriage to Mephisto (the “devil”) in exchange for Aunt May’s life?

Really, Marvel?  What were you thinking?  That “o” face in the bottom left corner is the stuff of nightmares. And Gwen… You desecrated poor, sweet Gwen!

Maybe resurrecting Gwen Stacy could top the scenarios above, but Slott has already said he (thankfully) has no interest in doing that, as Gwen is much more meaningful dead.

Over at the CBR boards, members have been posting a plethora of crackpot theories regarding what will happen in the issue.  Some have taken a statement that Slott made at Comic Con regarding the future not looking good for Madame Web as a hint that the new Madame Web, Julia Carpenter, will be kicking the bucket soon.  Personally, I think they’re reading a bit much into this and Slott was just being Slott.  Madame Web is a clairvoyant and only has visions when something terrible is about to happen–of course the future doesn’t look good for her.

“The future…always…looks…TERRIBLE…to MEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

Regardless, below is a list of my favorite theories from that thread:

  • Black Cat shows up with a baby.
  • Norman Osborn is Peter’s father.
  • Peter pulls the plug on Doctor Octopus and then goes crazy.
  • Peter gets flung back in time, is stuck, and in a nod to his clone brother, names himself Ben Parker.  He then meets a lovely girl named May Reilly.
  • Peter gives up being Spider-Man to be with Mary Jane or Peter ends up getting killed, with either scenario leading to new sidekick Alpha taking his place.
  • Peter moves to Japan and gets a giant robot.
  • Peter goes crazy and becomes the new Green Goblin.
  • Kaine is the real Peter Parker.
  • Batman subcontracts Peter to become his new gadget man in Batman, Inc. as part of a cross-promotional deal between Marvel and DC.
  • J. Jonah Jameson is actually a 1940s reporter covering the war in Europe.  He is wounded by a grenade blast, which kills his soldier body guard Steve Rogers.  For two months, Jameson has been in a coma, and it’s revealed that the whole Marvel Universe is taking place in his mind.
  • Black Widow becomes Spider-Man’s new crime-fighting partner and Spider-Man has a clone baby from an alternate reality with Mystique.

That’s a lot of outlandishness to digest, huh?  As promised in the first paragraph, though, I also have my own predictions as to what might happen in #700.

The cover for Amazing Spider-Man #700 is a preexisting collage by a French artist named Pascal Garcin.  You could say that this makes the presence of certain characters on the cover arbitrary, but I like to think that Marvel chose to use this cover for that issue for specific reasons.  If you look closely near the bottom, to the left of the center, there’s a Carnage hidden among all of the Spider-Mans.

Hey, look…It’s a schooner!

This leads me to believe that Carnage has some involvement in this issue, perhaps killing a beloved character like Mary Jane Watson.  Despite wreaking havoc in Spider-Man’s world in two mini-series over the last two years and continuing to do so in an upcoming Venom/Scarlet Spider crossover, it’s been years since Carnage has committed mass murder in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.  This site’s owner, Matt Sardo, even claimed to me in an e-mail that during Comic Con’s Spider-Man panel, “[The panelists] were asked what character they wanted to work with or draw. [Humberto Ramos] mentioned Carnage and then said, ‘Oh, wait.  I’ve drawn Carnage,’ and then he got dirty looks.”  What better time for Carnage to show up and do something chaotic than the book’s 700th issue, 24 years after the character’s “father,” Venom, debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #300?

Speaking of Venom, the border of the eyes on that collage is composed of the character.  I’m going to go ahead and also predict that if Peter doesn’t find out by then that Flash is the guy wearing the Venom symbiote by #700, he’ll probably find out there.

If I’m wrong about Carnage, then the next likely scenario is that the Roderick Kingsley Hobgoblin, rumored to return in the upcoming “Danger Zone” arc, shows up and kills someone.  Either way, I think someone is dying in #700.  Mary Jane is a likely choice, though I’d rather not see that happen.  Sardo wants Aunt May to die, and I have yet to figure out what he has against sweet, little old ladies.  Her husband, J. Jonah Jameson, Sr. may be a more likely candidate for the grave, or possibly other characters that have grown on fans in recent years–like NYPD forensic detective/most recent Peter Parker ex Carlie Cooper or Daily Bugle reporter Norah Winters.

Or maybe in their infinite wisdom, Marvel, seeing that it worked so well in Ultimate Spider-Man, actually do decide to kill off mainstream (Earth-616 for you nerds out there) Peter and replace him with his new sidekick Alpha, at which point they’ll lose me as a reader.  Just because something worked in one universe doesn’t mean it should be spread to the others.

But seriously… Keep any sweet, elderly women you hold dear away from this man.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #690 – Dr. Connors gives Horizon a hand

Amazing Spider-Man #690
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils]; Klaus Janson, Daniel Green, and Giuseppe Camuncoli [Inks]; Frank D’Armata [Colors]

Curt Connors, seemingly been cured of the Lizard thanks to a formula developed by Morbius, is actually just the Lizard in Curt Connors’ body.  To top it all off, in an attempt to transform himself back into the Lizard, he’s even regrown the arm that Curt Connors’ original formula was meant to regrow.

Having distracted Spider-Man by taking advantage of Morbius’ thirst for blood, Connors begins using Horizon Labs’ top minds to try to develop a formula that can turn him back to his Lizard form–progressively transforming each into another monstrous lizard as their formulas fail.  Further complicating things is that damn regrown arm, which he continually has to lazer off to keep up appearances as it keeps regrowing.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man is battling a Morbius overcome by thirst 12 blocks away when Madame Web appears to tell him she’s had another vision (and that Silver Sable isn’t dead), and that he’ll regret it if he doesn’t return to Horizon Labs at that moment.  He still takes his time finishing off Morbius, however, and the issue closes on a cliffhanger regarding the fates of a few supporting cast members after one of them notices Connors is missing the wrong arm.

Dan Slott’s writing remains strong here, with Lizard-in-the-body-of-Curt-Connors discovering humor (and making terrible puns about his severed arms), music, and junk food while everyone remains oblivious that he’s only Curt Connors on the outside.  I also enjoyed the back-and-forth between Spider-Man and Morbius, with Morbius trying to explain to a hero who doesn’t particularly trust him that he couldn’t control what he was doing.  The characterization of Spider-Man was a bit more stubborn and angry than we’ve seen from Slott, but it’s not totally out of character in the context of darker periods in the character’s history–and given the subplot in this issue involving Kingpin, Hobgoblin, and Tiberius Stone, things are going to get a lot darker before they start looking up again.

The art remains pretty spot on, although a lot of Camuncoli’s faces of anger/despair look like the psychotic face Romita Sr.’s Jonah Jameson would make when he was sure he was finally going to destroy Spider-Man’s reputation in early issues of the book.  Not a bad thing, but it catches me off guard every time.

It will be interesting to see how Slott wraps up this arc, especially as it pertains to Morbius going forward, and the fates of Curt Connors and everyone at Horizon Labs.

RATING:  9.0/10

Will Dan Slott kill Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man #700?

Dan Slott mentioned at Comic Con International that Amazing spider-Man #700 is the biggest thing that he has worked on in his career and that what happens in the issue would polarize audiences. Killing MJ is the biggest thing that people over at the Comic Vault could come up with. What do you think?

Below is the cover Amazing Spider-Man #700 by French artist Mr Garcin.

Dan Slott ending his run on Amazing Spider-Man after #700?


Dan Slott via Arune Singh’s IPhone told the Amazing Spider-Man panel at Comic Con International Sunday afternoon that he would have to go into hiding after issue 700 of Amazing Spider-Man.

“The issue will divide fans,” Slott said.

The audience was told that the last page of 700 is a gutsy move by Slott.

“It is the biggest thing he has ever done in comics,” Slott said.

A fan pointed out that Spider-Man has been taking darker tactics to make sure that no one dies, Slott replied that Peter Parker will continue down this dark path leading up to 700. Madame Web was mentioned during the panel and Slott made it sound like she would be around for much longer.Humberto Ramos was quickly hushed when he mentioned that he was draw Carnage.

As of now Marvel Comics has only revealed information up to 50th anniversary issue where Slott introduces Alpha, Spider-Man’s new side-kick.

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #689 – The Lizard Like You’ve Never Seen Him Before

Amazing Spider-Man #689
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Klaus Janson [Inks], Frank D’Armata [Colors]

[HEY, READ THIS FIRST!  If you haven’t read Amazing Spider-Man #688, this review will spoil some key plot points, and that’s no fun for anyone.]

In the first part of “No Turning Back,” Spider-Man and Morbius, along with a team of Horizon Labs scientists led by Max Modell, hunted down the Lizard in the sewers and “cured” him of his condition.  Now Curt Connors once again, the nightmare is seemingly over…or is it?

Amazing Spider-Man #689 begins in Morbius’ lab at Horizon, with Spider-Man and Modell assisting him in running tests on Connors.  Seeing that his “cure” worked, Morbius begins making preparations to make a batch tailored to his own DNA in order to cure him of his “living vampire” condition.  Unfortunately, Morbius has other problems to worry about–namely, answering for robbing the grave of Curt Connors’ dead son Billy, who was eaten by the Lizard during 2010’s “Shed” story arc, in order to produce a cure–and Curt Connors isn’t exactly purged of the Lizard.

As hinted in the end of the last issue, only Connors’ appearance has changed.  Still the Lizard on the inside, he spends this issue cleverly buying time alone in Morbius’ lab in order to distract Spider-Man and the others long enough to transform himself back to his reptilian form.  Taking advantage of Morbius’ growing hunger, Connors releases the scent of blood into the building’s ventilation system, prompting the living vampire to lose control and feed on one of the Horizon Labs brain trust members, Sajani.

Of course, this leads to Morbius’ prompt exit and Spider-Man chasing after him, leaving everyone else alone with Connors.

Dan Slott delivers yet another phenomenal issue of Amazing Spider-Man here, even going so far as to point out the history between Spider-Man, Morbius, and the Lizard dating back to issue #101.  Seeing Connors with the Lizard still in control of his psyche is also a nice twist on a Lizard story, and everything that happens as the issue winds down sets up some pretty high stakes for the story’s conclusion next issue.

Camuncoli’s art somehow looks even better than last issue, and I’d even put some of the facial expressions and action panels he draws up there with John Romita, Sr.  Klaus Janson and Frank D’Armata’s inks and colors make the art pop that much more.

This is another must-buy issue with a great cliffhanger ending in the mighty Marvel manner.  I can’t wait to see how it ends in two weeks.

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #688 – No Turning Back!

Amazing Spider-Man #688
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Klaus Janson [Inks], Frank D’Armata [Colors]

Coming off of the devastating loss of Silver Sable in the final chapter of “Ends of the Earth,” Spider-Man is desperately needing a check in the “win” column.  It doesn’t matter that he just saved the entire world and that Silver Sable’s sacrifice was only one life in comparison–Peter made a vow after the murder of Marla Jameson that, while he’s around, no one dies.

Of course, nobody can live up to that sort of statement, and Mary Jane tells Peter this herself at a party she throws in his honor (cleverly disguised as a “Hey, Horizon Labs helped stop the world from being destroyed by Doctor Octopus!” party).  Regardles, Pete doesn’t have much time to let this sink in and relax before his other ex, CSI detective Carlie Cooper, phones him to let him know that Billy Connors’ grave has been robbed.

If you remember, Billy Connors is the son of Dr. Curt Connors, who became the Lizard after a failed experiment with reptile DNA meant to give humans the ability to regenerate lost limbs.  Last time the Lizard took over Curt Connors, he decided to destroy his former self once and for all and devoured his son.

Anyways, it turns out Billy’s body was stolen by a certain Horizon-employed vampire/scientist who has found a way to change the Lizard back to Curt Connors again.  Is this the win Spider-Man is looking for…or is it?

Jumping back and forth between the present and the hours leading up to that moment, Dan Slott delivers an engaging start to a well-timed story starring the two main characters of The Amazing Spider-Man (in theaters next week!).  Instead of feeling like it was just thrown together to tie into the movie by featuring Lizard as a villain, it builds on the Lizard’s character developments from the past two years and feels like the logical place to move on to the character’s next step.

Despite a few faces taking an extra look or two to get used to, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Klaus Janson, and Frank D’Armata hit the ball out of the park in the art department.  The Lizard here feels as vicious as ever, if not more so with Spider-Man’s tattered costume displaying the savage consequences of the battle.

Morbius’ involvement here is sure to be the wild card in this darker Spider-Man tale, as the vampiric scientist’s control over his hunger has often been unstable in the past.  I’m not sure where Slott’s taking this after the final page, but it’s sure to be a wild ride if the past is any indication.

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!

 

6-page preview: Amazing Spider-Man #692 – Alpha origin

amazingspiderman_692_cover
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Marvel Comics Wednesday afternoon released a six-page preview of Amazing Spider-Man #692 written by Dan Slott with art by Humberto Ramos. This issue contains the origin of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new side-kick. Amazing Spider-Man #692 swings into your local comic book store on August 22nd, 2012.

Introducing ALPHA in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692!

Fans across the globe have been asking, “Who Is Alpha” and this August, in Amazing Spider-Man #692, they’ll find out! Marvel is celebrating Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary in style as the blockbuster creative team of Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos give Peter Parker his very own….sidekick?! When he’s not working with the Avengers of the Future Foundation, Spider-Man has been saving the Marvel Universe on his own for fifty years! But now, with his anniversary right around the corner, that’s all about to change!

This special event, could only be told in this oversized issue celebrating the values that made Spider-Man the world’s greatest super hero for the past five decades and many more to come. And with special variant covers by superstar artist Marcos Martin, depicting Spider-Man through the years, no fan can miss out on this! Get ready for a story about power and responsibility like you’ve never seen before in Amazing Spider-Man #692, swinging into comic shops everywhere, the Marvel Comics app and the Marvel Digital Comics Shop this August.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692 (JUN120622)
Written by DAN SLOTT
Pencils and Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS
FOC – 7/30/2012, On Sale – 8/22/2012

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #687 – As the World Burns

Amazing Spider-Man #687
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Stefano Caselli, Frank Martin Jr. [Color Art] 

HEY!  WAIT A MINUTE!
If you haven’t read the rest of this story arc, this review will spoil a few plot developments, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?  The end of this issue isn’t spoiled, though, so you’re safe there.

Victory is once again within Doctor Octopus’ grasp and the only people who can stop him are Spider-Man, Black Widow, Silver Sable, and Mysterio–who switched sides last issue, natch!  Unfortunately, they’ll have to go through the (mind-controlled) Avengers first.

The ensuing battle is among the best-written team battles to take place in Spider-Man (or a lot of other books) in recent memory.  Dan Slott takes advantage of the various characters involved, as well as plot points from previous issues in the last few years, to showcase everyone (with the exception of Black Widow and Hawkeye, but they were knocked out early on).  The Spider-Man/Spider-Woman fight and the bit with Thor’s Mjolnir were nice touches, but the turncoat Mysterio was the true standout in these pages as he showcased his mastery of illusion and quipped about leaving the super villain business for television.

This being the final part of the story arc, Spider-Man does finally confront the still-dying Doc Ock in his underwater base (where do these guys get the funds for this stuff?).  Octavius’ intentions are, indeed, to purge the Earth using his Octavian Lens, and with the doctor so close to death and the Rhino still on Ock’s side, Spider-Man’s pact of “no one dies” may finally be forced to end.  The people who (seemingly) die here just aren’t the ones you’d expect.

Overall, Slott gives what is thus far his best Spider-Man “event” story a fitting end.  The action stays on point, the dialogue stays fresh while referencing previous issues, the (seeming) deaths don’t feel meaningless, and several threads are left open for later.  In particular, it will be interesting to see whether or not Horizon Labs was ever able to figure out that a lot of Ock’s tech was developed by them–and Peter Parker, in particular–and what repercussions that may have.  Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin, Jr. continue to deliver the goods as well, especially with what might be the most menacing-looking incarnation of Doc Ock.

As with every other issue of this arc, if you haven’t read it, GO BUY IT NOW!

RATING:  EXCELSIOR!