Spidey goes to space! He doesn’t wear an astronaut suit, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. He does team up with the Human Torch for the first time since Johnny’s resurrection, and it’s handled much better than Spidey’s last team up with an old friend for obvious reasons. The rest of this issue is kind of forgettable.
The Amazing Spider-Man #680
Words by Dan Slott & Chris Yost
Pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks by Klaus Janson
Colors by Frank D’armata
Letters by Joe Caramagna
I’m starting to get dizzy again. Reading this issue I was reminded of Spider-Island, not because this read like a part of that event, but because with all the jerking back and forth between various stories and plot threads I feel like each issue lately is a scene from a Spider-Island issue. Maybe that’s not as clear as I’d like it to be, so look at it this way: we had that Vulture story, which ended abruptly with the Vulture escaping and implications we’d see him again; we had that horrendous one shot about the Sinister Six making bad jokes and playing free iPad games; we had that crossover story about Spider-Man’s hilariously bumbling clone he sends out to do grunt work for Daredevil sometimes; we had an entertaining though spastic time travel diversion; and then we had Morbius’s return and a promising new character for one issue, which has disappeared into the mist.
Now, there is no doubt in my mind that all of these one and two part stories are a build-up to Ends of the Earth. And I’ve been enjoying at least half of them, so this isn’t purely a complaint. But there is one thing I’ve been really missing, something I referenced last issue, and that is the sense of an overarching story progressing slowly though the course of several smaller ones. It’s often said that the development of the “soap opera” element to ASM was one of the things that gained it such immense popularity, and I think that’s referring to a sense you get similar to that of an episodic TV series, where every episode contains its own story but usually contributes at least partially to a longer thread running through each episode.
I miss having that feeling with ASM. And part of what’s taking it away, I think, is the rotating artists on this title, something I’m getting really tired of. My feelings about most of the artists who’ve worked on the title recently range from “like” to “love” (excepting Ramos, I’m afraid), but it would give a much greater sense of cohesion to all this stuff if we could just have one solid, consistent writer/artist team. They figured out that having three rotating writers for ASM was a bad idea and gave it to Slott full time, so why not do that with an artist?
That said, Camuncoli’s a solid artist with a style that works well for action-packed comics like this one, and I think his art looks better here than it did in the Vulture stories. I’m not sure why this would be since the inker and colorist are the same as well, but whatever the case this issue looks good.
But hey, you probably wanna hear about the actual issue, right? Well, Jonah’s heroic astronaut son is once again on a dangerous space mission where something goes awry, since space missions where something goes awry, and where Spider-Man has to intervene, are the only thing he ever does. This time he’s on a Horizon space station–I don’t know where this connection came from, but I suppose it doesn’t matter–and Pete, the rest of the Horizon crew, and Jonah are standing around chatting with John about how well the mission is going when suddenly it stops going well.
In one of the more head-scratching moments Slott has written lately, Peter decides that the only thing for him to do is to sneak out right in the middle of this and web-sling to the Baxter building and get the Fantastic Four to shoot him up into space so he can investigate. Now hold on a minute. Peter just got finished being a member of the FF, and he’s one of their oldest friends, and… are we really supposed to believe, after the story where he swings around talking to Grady on a bluetooth, that his most efficient means of contacting them is to disappear at a highly suspicious moment and swing over to their front door? Wouldn’t it have honestly made more sense for him to sneak off and contact them, then stay at Horizon to let them know of any further developments there?
Well, okay, as it turns out only Johnny is home anyway, so I guess that’s convenient for the story. But really, everyone at Horizon should know who Pete is by now, and there’s no more “psychic blind spot” to conveniently excuse it, so I hope the outright lunacy of this is going to be dealt with soon. But it probably won’t.
You’ve got nothing to worry about. You’re with Johnny Storm.
It was cool to see Spidey teaming up with Human Torch again, and that’s what lends this issue its legitimacy. There’s some competitive back-and-forth between them, and incidentally Mark Waid ought to take some notes if he ever wants to write a Spidey crossover with zingers between the two characters again. This is similar to the dynamic he wrote between Spidey and Daredevil, with two key differences: first being the history between these two warrants it, and second being it doesn’t make Spidey look like a nincompoop every time they have dialogue. Johnny pretends, for example, that his recommendation that Spidey join the FF in his absence was a prank, which is amusing and entirely in character.
Once the two arrive at the space station, they discover that it’s been overrun by octobots, lending weight to the idea that all these one and two part stories are part of a buildup to Ends of the Earth. They find John and the issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, though it’s pretty much your standard “will our heroes survive?!” type of thing and it’s really kind of cheesy to boot.
Is this okay? Sure. Would I bother to pick up the next part if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m just picking up ASM by default anyway? No, not really. Still, it’s worth a read if you’d like to see some amusing Spidey and Human Torch dialogue (getting Johnny off the couch by spoiling all the reruns he was trying to catch up on was great) and don’t mind more of Slott’s goofy pop culture references (he’s way late on “Friday,” and it wouldn’t even have been that funny back when the video was viral). Sometimes I think Slott focuses too much on what he’s going to write. On the one hand, it’s nice to be getting some decompression-free stories; on the other, it kind of sours that when they are all just placeholders referencing something that’s coming up later. I’d be willing to bet that, when Ends of the Earth begins, we won’t really have needed any of these buildup stories to actually understand what’s happening. That doesn’t make them or it bad. It’s just that I wish the significant happenings could be a little more spread out over the course of Slott’s run, instead of getting big huge events in short bursts and then going through weeks of stories that are completely self-contained.
- Nice, well-executed team up with the Human Torch.
- Good art, and it even looks a bit cleaner than the last ASM issues Camuncoli worked on.
- This is pretty tired plot material. John Jameson in space, something goes wrong, Jonah flips his lid, Spidey runs off to figure out what’s up, he banters with Torch. It’s not bad, but you’ve probably read it before.