The RG heads on over to Spider-Island this week, with Amazing Spider-Man #666, it's the number of the beast, but is this book hellish, or is it devilishly good?
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.
This week is Amazing Spider-Man #666, the prelude to this summer's big Spider-Man event, Spider-Island. And as we all know, the Review Group loves events! Oh God, so much sarcasm, it hurts.
On one hand I enjoyed all the Peter and supporting cast stuff that went on throughout the book. On the other hand.. still not a fan of the Jackal or the fact that this has a lot of the pieces of the Clone Saga going for it. I'm glad he isn't the big bad in this, and curious to who the true bad is. Whomever this mystery woman is hopefully she isn't the Queen from Jenkins woeful arc from way back. I'm hoping it's Ms. Arrow aka the Other. That would explain her control over the big man spiders. Slott did dial Warren down a lot, but he's still the Jackal. I'm curious who the pair tested on given we know who Jackal's big Spider bodyguard is. Is it Spidercide or is it Ben? Really my only real complaint is the tacked on, "Hey kids it's Phil Urich and Norah Winters." But I guess they needed an intro since everyone else was in this issue.
Spider-Island is an event I was planning on checking out in trade, but since this is the Review Group I picked up the prelude.
There was a lot happening in this issue. Slott conveniently writes out Aunt May and most of FF to better manage the event. He also catches readers up on Peter's current status quo which will make it easier for readers to jump right into 'Spider-Island'. Brief cameos of Jonah, Horizon Labs, Phil and Norah, Venom, Betty, Madame Web, Shang-Chi, the Avengers, Mary Jane, and Carlie set the stage for upcoming events that may involve said characters. Getting some setup with the event's villains works too.
The art was great! Stefano Caselli's style is a good match to go along with Humerto Ramos' (the artist for Spider-Island). His detail, storytelling, and facial expressions are top-notch.
Well I'm going to be real honest with this one. I finished the book, sat it down and thought... so? I don't care. As much as I have tried to enjoy Spidey for the last few years I always come back to this thought: "This ain't the real Spider-Man. He was destroyed a few years ago with OMD." I'm old. What can I say. The art though was top notch and enjoyed every panel. But this single issue really made me realize my Spider-Man is dead and I think I'm done with this book.
My Score: 6.50
Best event book on the stands right now simply based on this prelude issue. Slot gave us a fun rapid-fire issue that firmly set all the storylines that Spider-Island will feature into effect...and unlike most of the others I didn't get a jarring feel of scenes jumping all over the place without a chance to digest it. It's been ages since I've seen a Spidey event and the prelude did its job in whetting my appetite for #667.
To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect of this given that it was dredging Clone Saga stories with the return of the Jackal. But what was a truly pleasant surprise was Kaine and possible Ben Reilly getting thrown into the mix. The story so far really is a Clone Saga reunion with only Spidercide out of the picture.
Best way to sum up the story itself is is a day in the life of Peter Parker as he juggles being a solo hero, FF member, Avenger and plain old Peter Parker's personal life in a typically hectic day with kung fu lessons from Shang Chi thrown in to boot. Oh yeah, and obviously there's the small flashes of formerly ordinary people now with spider powers ranging from nobodies to low level criminals to even Peter's new girlfriend Carlie Cooper setting the stage for next month where all New Yorkers gain these powers in what looks to be an absurdly fun, crazy event where EVERYONE is pretty much on equal footing with Spider-Man in the powers department.
But it seems like this is what Slott excel's at: using these oddball concepts and writing some of the best Spidey stories I've read in years. The book is once again fun after writers were trying to make the book as dark as they could for the sake of conformity with the changes in comic book tones. Not to say there is no darkness, Slott may have not hit truly twisted peaks like his "Arkham Asylum" mini did, but at its core the book is just fun. Which is how a Spider-Man book should be...and Dan Slott gets that.
On the art, big fan of Caselli's art and this issue was not a letdown. Gracia's colors complemented him very well too...at times it felt like the panel helped tell the story just as much as the dialog did.
Story - Nowadays, there's a whole lot of Spider-Man out there. His solo title is out twice a month, he's on two Avengers teams and on the FF. He makes about 5 guest-appearances in other titles a month, and there's always the occasional mini-series. That's a lot of Spidey, some might say too much. There's a lot of disparate threads (or webs, if you will) which Peter Parker is involved with, and sometimes even the most dedicated fan can get lost, and confused as to just how exactly he finds the time for so many adventures. This issue of Amazing Spider-Man does a wonderful job of twisting all of these webs into one compelling story, and sets the stage for what looks to be an exciting event.
Dan Slott was pretty much born to write Spider-Man, and this may be his best issue yet. In this issue we see every side of Spidey, and Slott gets each one. We see him as the solo hero, stopping a bank robber, we see him teaming up with other heroes, as he and the Young Allies take on Hydro-Man (this scene also did a good job of showing how he's evolved as a character, he has matured, looked up to by other heroes, and is able to use his scientific mind to fight crime like he never did before). We see Peter at work at Horizon Labs, we see his personal life, chatting with his girlfriend Carlie Cooper, then Norah Winters and Phil Urich (secretly the Hobgoblin! And still really fun as a dark reflection of Peter) and then his ex, MJ Watson. We see Peter's family in Aunt May and Jonah Jameson Snr.
We see how Spidey functions as both a member of the Future Foundation and then as part of the Avengers, and how each team is different (I loved how Sue Storm expressed the same disdain some online fans do at the New Avengers, that they just sit around hanging out). And finally we see him train with Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung-Fu (you always have to use his full title) and Madame Web, which is not only a timely reminder that he's lost his Spider-Sense, but that there is a mystical side to Spidey too. Add to this cameos from J.Jonah Jameson as NYC Mayor, Flash Thompson as Venom and his girlfriend Betty Brant, and the past year or so of Spider-Man stories all across the Marvel Universe are brought together almost effortlessly, and it's a lot of fun.
But that wouldn't be enough on it's own, a story like this might satisfy continuity heads and people who spend most of their time ranting on the internet about how "SPIDER-MAN AND WOLVERINE ARE ON TOO MANY TEAMS AAAAAAARGHHHH!!!", but it would be pretty boring without a looming threat, and I think Spider-Island provides a good one. There are multiple enemies being set up here, the first is that a load of random New Yorkers are getting powers very similar to Spider-Man, which can pretty much only be a bad thing. Thousands of people with all the power of Peter Parker, but none of the sense of responsibility. For the last few issues there have been back-ups featuring these new Spider-people, but this issue is a veritable explosion of them. It's going to be really fun to see how people handle becoming Spider-Men, and the fact that characters we know like Carlie Cooper are getting these powers will be fun to see. Compare the first page of this issue to the last, the same skyline, but one with only Spider-Man, the other with loads of them.
The villain behind all of this is the Jackal, a character most famous for being behind the Clone Saga, and I think Slott has a lot of fun with him, he's crazy, but smart, and you know that when he shows up, there's a big plot. The fact that he has Kaine, the failed Spider-Clone with him is equally exciting. And then there's the tease that Ben Reilly, the actual Spider-Clone is back, which is just... wow, awesome.
But then, is the Jackal actually behind this? It appears he's acting under orders from someone else, a mysterious woman. I have literally no idea who this is, and that's just how I like my mysteries, too often these days, ostensible mysteries are way too easy to guess, but this? I'm stumped. My only wild guess is the clone of Gwen Stacy, but that's just insane.
This was just a great issue of Spider-Man, it featured every aspect of the character, and made them all fit together, and also set up an exciting new threat, that's a lot more than I expected. If you're not reading Amazing, then Spider-Island is a great jumping-on point, and you can even tweet about it! Event comics get a lot of stick, but when they are done right, there's little better in Mainstream comics, and this looks set to be a good one.
Art - Stefano Caselli has been one of the most underrated artists in the industry for a long time now. From Avengers: The Initiative, to Secret Warriors, and then to Amazing Spider-Man, he's kind of gone under the radar, by being on smaller books, or being overshadowed by Marcos Martin. But I think this issue may propel him to another level, as it's his biggest exposure yet. It helps that this is the best his art has looked, he was always good, but this stuff is just perfect.
Best Line - 'You're from Yancy Street. Girls next door are missing prominent teeth'
I wasn't going to pick this book up on saturday but my LCS had a bunch of issues with their name on them so I bought one of those variants.
Now I went into this fully expecting to hate the issue, I've been woefully underwhelmed with Slott's take on the character. That said I didn't 'hate' it, but I didn't like it very much either.
The issue opens up like Spider-man 3. Everything is going perfect for peter and of course when things start going well for peter he starts acting like a jerk to everybody which leads to a groan inducing look at how he handles his relationship. It isn't long before we are introduced to our super original plot concept where our heroe's powers are replicated in multiple no name characters. Actually its not so original we've just seen this exact plot in the pages of Captain America and the Hulk with in the past year and Green lantern has been doing it for years. So our plot isn't unique.
We are also reintroduced to the Jackal, I don't know how he was originally written, but this character is annoying and not menacing in the least.
So we have an overused plot, a lame villain, a jerky peter, cheesy dialouge, horrible uses of Jonah Jameson (look to the pages of Ultimate fall out to see how this character can be used well) and more references to OMD just so that fans of the previous incarnation of Peter Parker will never feel comfortable with this new direction.
I take it back I did hate this book, but the art was nice.
Overall - 1
I haven't read any title starring Spider-Man in years and as a result I was afraid that I wouldn't understand everything that was going on this issue. Admittedly there were a few changes that surprised me (not that I wasn't expecting that to be the case thought) like, "when did J Jonah Jameson become Mayor of New York?" and "When did JJJ get a father named Jay and when did that father get together with Aunt May?" I do have to say that Dan Slott did a good job of making sure that new readers like myself did indeed understand these points and also in staying on them only long enough for them to be clear before getting on with the story. I do have to say that I like where Peter is currently working -- it makes a lot of sense.
There really wasn't anything for me to point out that was bad. I got a laugh out of the hospital scene with Betty -- "It's stuck to my skin! It won't come off!" I also enjoyed the poker scene as well as the fight with Julia Carpenter. Having said all of that, we come to the bottom line of the whole point of this issue. It's a prelude issue for Spider Island and as such if it works the way it's supposed to, the reader should come away wanting to see what happens in that story. That may have been the case with others, but sadly not with me. I liked everything having to do with the supporting cast and Peter's current life but had no interest in anything having to do with the build up to Spider Island.
This is a tough one for me to rate because I really enjoyed the fluff half of it, but had no interest in the Spider Island build up which is essentially the meat of the story. I guess I'll give it a 5 out of 10.
First off, I really like Dan Slott. Or I used to, since I haven't read Spider-Man for a couple of years it's been a while since I've read his stuff. This was the most boring Dan Slott comic I have ever read. Peter's doing this, and this, and this, and this, and this... I tried to stick with it, but 20 pages in and I couldn't help but skim, just flat out too tedious for me. Some people like to whine about Peter's marriage getting OMD'd, me, I like to whine about Peter ever becoming an adult. I like Peter as a teenager, the forthcoming Untold Tales Omnibus might be the only Spider-Man book I read for the next 10 years, that's how long it's going to take for me to want to read adult Peter Parker again after this borefest.
The art was okay. I'm not a big Caselli fan, but he has continued to improve over the years.
I had no intentions of getting this book but by happenstance while visiting my old home town, I went into a comic shop I hadn't been in for almost 15 years. I ran into this (now grown) kid that used to hang around there and to my utter shock he not only remembered (name and anecdotes) but he recently had bought the store. As owner he showed me HIS cover for ASM #666 (which has him on the cover) so I bought it more for the novelty of an old pal done good than for the book itself...
However, once I actually read the book, which is written by Dan Slott whom I loved on She-Hulk, Thing and Might Avengers, I quickly realized that the decision I made years ago to stop reading Spider-Man was the right one.
Slott did a great job of introducing me to the status quo and characters. It read a lot like how comics used to be back when the creed was 'every comic is someone's first comic'. The difference he is that nothing in here makes me care or even give a damn about Spidey.
Two Avengers teams and the FF? Jonah STILL playing the menace card. That got old in 1964!!! Firestar acting like a dweeb. She was an Avenger (a real one) - sad to see her reduced to her old 'amazing Friends' status. Rulk - really? Jackal - really really?
The only thing that I was actually interested in reading was what Carlie wanted to talk about and of course it's the one thing that never happened.
The book is written well, but since JMS and then OMD there's still nothing here for me anymore. And that makes me sad.
The art was good but I kept getting a cartoony Terry Dodson vibe that never let up. Caselli draws an awful Thing (and all the spider men on the last, you'd think they wouldn't be wearing dress shos if they can suddenly climb walls).
Story - 3
Art - 4
Overall - 3.5
Well, ASM #666 isn't mind-blowingly awesome. And the scenes with Spidey swinging from robbery to robbery are a bit dull. But this isn't by any stretch a bad issue.
The overall light tone of the book is perfect for Spidey. And the story has enough allusions and references to the glorious past to warm my old fanboy heart. I am thrilled, for example, to see Gloria Grant back in Amazing Spider-Man. I hope that Slott has Gloria and Pete finally go out. Spidey writers never explored the sexual tension between these two characters back when Gloria was first introduced as Pete's neighbor. It would make for an interesting romance now -- two characters that have a long history, but no serious history, between them. Anyway, what I enjoy about Slott's Spider-Man is the balance between old and new elements. There's enough of both to interest fans no matter how long they've been following Spidey's misadventures.
The art is slightly too cartoonish for me. The exaggerated anatomy -- especially the oversized feet -- gets on my nerves. But I recognize that the illustrations are strong and dynamic and that the storytelling is straightforward yet engaging.
I read so many Spider-Man comics as a kid, was a big fan, homemade Spider-Man costume one Halloween and everything. When they came out with this web shooter in the mid-'70s, I begged my parents to buy me one. Pleaded for one! In K-Mart!
They said no, dammit. No?! But then I found a five dollar bill on the floor in the books aisle (romance section) as I wandered up and down the aisles cursing them and their penuriousness. My father was a God-fearin' man, and he said to take that money and buy that web shooter was to make a deal with the Devil. I said I'd call that a bargain. The best I ever had! Web shooters! Take that, Faust!
At some point though, I just burned out on the sheer number of robberies foiled, hoods webbed up, JJJ apoplectic fits, and girl troubles. And Spider-Man is one of those characters where I'm too invested in the books I read as a kid--in my case the '60s and '70s, also heavily influenced by the 1967-1970 cartoon run which I still love and own the DVD set of the complete episodes. Those Ditko issues, those John Romita issues. Early Marvel Team Up. I love those.
Dan Slott bores me a little once again here, but I think the Spider Island idea would make a fun cartoon. Dan Slott should write cartoons. Caselli does a decent job here, hopefully the dynamic style will work well with a city full of webs and web-slingers. (Hate the FF suit though. There's no reason for a group as currently diverse as the Future Foundation to dress alike anyway, and the new designs are el sucko.) Slott's writing just drags for me, I don't mean to be rude about it, he's just not my cup of tea. I will be buying the Cloak & Dagger tie-in issues though, out of fondness for the characters.
Good but not great, I can see how this might go either way, fun or lame.
Thwip! Wow, that was a pretty good week, with some very wide-ranging opinions, it's not often a book will get both a 9/10 and a 1/10! Those polar opposites meet in the middle for a combined score of 6.15. To read the whole thread, which not only has all the reviews, but an argument about One More Day (and if there's one thing the internet doesn't have enough of, it's those!), fire your web-shooters at this link. Next week is Severed #1, the new Image title from American Vampire and Detective Comics writer Scott Snyder, please join us, please.
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt
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