The Amazing Spider-Man #684 Review

 The Avengers have fallen! As Doctor Octopus continues his nefarious plans, Spider-Man, Black Widow and Silver Sable plan a counter-attack. But they have to get through Sandman first!


Written by Dan Slott

Illustrated by Humberto Ramos

Inked by Victor Olazaba

Colored by Edgar Delgado

Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

THE PLOT: Silver Sable saves Spider-Man and the Black Widow from being captured along with the rest of the Avengers by Doctor Octopus and the Sinister Six. With the help of Horizon Labs, Spidey and the two agents plan a counterattack.

LONG STORY SHORT: The three “S”s attack Sandman and defeat him. Doctor Octopus then alerts the planet, telling the world that Spider-Man is a global terrorist menace.

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t have much to say about this issue, and probably won’t for the remainder of the story unless something big shakes it up.

The issue overall is fine. Spidey, BW and Sable go after Sandman, and beat him pretty handily. It was a decent chapter for Ends of the Earth. The thing is, the execution is just not working for me. This is cheesy, cliche comics 101, and Dan Slott brings nothing new to the table. Yes, Spider-Man’s intelligence defeats the Sandman, but he always does that. It’s meant to be this big, almost transcendent moment that pats the character on the back for living up to the title’s expectations whilst under the pretense of being more than he really is, and it’s frankly condescending to read. I don’t like Spider-Man worrying and fretting about not being smart enough, not being equipped enough, not being ENOUGH to stand up to a supervillain, let alone a guy he knows better than any other Marvel hero. I would buy it if the situation was inherently different and dire, but it isn’t.

This story feels very much at home in the 90s, which isn’t a horrible thing but a criticism nontheless. Back then, we got Micheline/Bagely classics like Round Robin: The Sidekicks Revenge, Maximum Carnage and the Assassination Nation. Multi-part spanning storylines with many different characters that ultimately added up to nothing important happening. What makes this story fall in line with those is that Doc Ock at the end of the day is doing nothing new. He’s blackmailing the world for science. It’s a Doctor Doom plot wrapped in Octopus plastic. That in itself is not a bad thing, and I feel I have to stress that. Certain aspects like super villain plots being rehashed isn’t a cardinal sin, especially when the plots are switched up with the villains commiting the crimes. What makes this come off as sort of pretentious is that everyone in the comic says it’s new, says it’s a bad situation, says it’s never happened before. One of the quickest way to take the reader out of the situation is to draw attention to the type of situation it is in a manner that the characters wouldn’t if whatever’s going on was real. People are going to be more concerned with stopping Doc Ock’s plot or surviving the consequence rather than to pat Dan Slott on the back for his “originality”.

It’s the same with the characters. At the very beginning, Mysterio suggests going back on one of the oldest, most nonsensical tropes in fiction and kill the heroes while they’re vunerable. But of course, Doc Ock has to conform to the cliche of “No, I have plans for them…MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”  I’ve already gone on and on about Slott’s dialogue, so I won’t repeat myself here besides just saying it’s bad.

On the positive side, Humberto Ramos does really good work here. His take on the Spider-Armor is really cool, as well as Edgar Delgado’s colors for it. I’m always more of a big-eye fan of Spider-Man rather than the small-eye take that Caselli does for him, but beyond that his art kicked butt all around.

I’ll also say that while Dan Slott’s Doc Ock is probably my least favorite, there was one instance that I thought served for some very good character insights. He says that he’s no longer afraid of Spider-Man, which is some nice continuity going back to stories like the Owl/Gangwar arc from Spectacular vol.1 and the Matrix Ock arc from Spectacular vol.2. I did like that scene.

I know there are people digging Slott’s run, and I have no problem with that. But as a whole, comics have moved beyond a certain level of storytelling to where they can’t really go back to anymore. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man feels embarassingly out of time in execution. The technical quality of the story isn’t necessarily bad at all, but the style of the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. It just makes all the characters and the adventures they’re involved in seem all the more inconsequential.

2.5/5 webs


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(31) Comments

  1. Mustached Avenger

    I don think that comics that are light-hearted like this issue are bad. My personal problem, and ur free to disagree with me, is that this dialogue, as well as this stupid trend lately to make everything feel all silver age like with references, gets annoying. This dialogue feels forced, old, and just amateur. It feels like a fanfic at times, which is why I can't stand it. Also, having ur characters point out what is wrong with ur story is not clever or meta (That's deadpool's job, btw) but just lazy. I feel that way a lot with slott's run. It's like he finally got his dream job, but gave up on improving and making his dream job better. Granted, he did lose point with me in killing of the Kingsley (i.e., the GOOD) Hobgoblin, I do try to give him a chance. His stories are at least fun.

  2. Mike 13

    Well, I finally got around to reading the last two issues, and I think it's all full of Spidey goodness... yes, I can see how the dialogue might be to cheesey for the mature mind, but it's all good comic book fun...if I were reading this at 12 years old, I'd be hopping in my pants... I would suggest that the people who hate the dialogue may have unfortunately grown up and out of Spider-Man... it can be a sad fact of life...

  3. Spidergeek

    I loved this issue. Every once and a while, it's nice for Spidey to have an all out brawl with the odds against him.

  4. Epidot

    I'm just a ball of complaints these days, but I'm still going to point out that it takes all sorts. Some people like the retro aproach, some prefere more modern style. That said, insults never changed anyones mind. I'm one of the prople where Slott's writing isn't sitting well. I don't see a sciense team on spead-dial and new high-tech-gear as a sign of a smart Spider-man. Probably dosn't help that I'm not sharing Slott's sense of humor either.

  5. Phantom Roxas

    Come to think of it, that comment about Spider-Man blatantly pointing out Sandman's idiocy reminds me of how in the two-parter with The Human Torch, he calls Spider-Man out for not using that special phone he had earlier, and Spider-Man can't come up with a response. If Slott is able to point out plot holes in his own story, surely he could fix them beforehand?

  6. Eddie

    Thanks Two-Bit! I will look forward to your review. I guess you'll also be reviewing the AVX thing, too? I hope you feel better. Have a great week.

  7. Two-Bit Specialist

    @18 Eddie - I'm covering Avenging Spider-Man #6. I got my issue on Sunday and then been sick the rest of the week, so I'll try to post it very soon. Punisher and Daredevil are also being covered. I also happen to think that Heroes for Hire arc was the best Spidey story I've read in recent time. I did cover the first issue but then got lazy with the other ones.

  8. Mike 13

    I though I was initially being civil already... at least until the testies got involved... lol

  9. Enigma_2099

    @#19 Who said you didn't? As I recall, no one said you couldn't. But there's a difference between complaining, and outright insulting. You smart enough to figure out the difference? And if not, could you at least try to be more civil about it? I COULD make a joke about the chilly testies crack, but I won't. Just make sure to use mouthwash when you're done. You have a pleasant evening, yourself.

  10. Mike 13

    @11... You're not going to get much sucking up with frotsy balls... And you have such a right to complain, why don't I have the same right to complain about all you pissy-pants who apparently are so damn grown up that your comics have to go along with your refined cultural tastes? Ahhhh, there's nothing better than chilly testies.... Have a great day.

  11. Eddie

    I can see both sides on this issue, too. I can't really argue with any of the points of the review, but I still enjoyed the issue to a certain extent. Are you guys going to review the Avenging Spider-Man, Punisher, Daredevil crossover? I liked the first issue and am getting set to read the Punisher issue. This is shaping up to be a good little arc. Remember the Heroes for Higher miniseries that came out last year? I'm thinking that the best Spider-Man stories lately are NOT in ASM.

  12. sthenurus

    I liked this issue, but Ock feels more and more like a James Bond Vilain. What i liked so far with this story wa that the ony thing going against Ock was spider-man assumptions he was going to go all Doom on the world. He never ask for anything else but help so far. But now, ith the whole money, abduction of heroes and so on, he just goes back to cardboard cut vilain. And bring Casdsel back. Prety please.

  13. hairychap

    Is the Sinister Six handily defeating you and all your Avenger chums not an `inherently different and dire` situation?

  14. Peter

    @14: Personally, I was pleasantly surprised when Sandman had a thought bubble over his head reminding us(or informing the unfamiliar) about his drive to help his daughter, Keemia. A thought bubble! Remember those? Those storytelling tools used to quickly give the reader information about a character's current motivations and feelings, in a way only comic books can? I thought that was a sight for sore eyes. Now it's all serious Frank Miller narration captions. Boxed off thoughts like this for dramatic effect. No time for those silly thought balloons. These are superhero comics. Serious business.

  15. Two-Bit Specialist

    I, for one, do not agree with the assessment that comic books have "evolved." I think there's room for both old and new school forms of storytellimg.

  16. spideytothemax

    @8 - It's almost like you're surprised and offended that everyone doesn't like the same things that you like. That "elitist nerd" garbage is the kind of crap that makes me want to stay off of comics book forums. I thought the issue was below average overall. I like the way Stillanerd put it. The scale of the story feels large, but also thin somehow. The Sandman fight was disappointing. What happened to the stuff he was pulling in the Keemia's Castle arc? I was expecting something really epic and felt really let down.

  17. reader

    I agree with #7, I feel underwhelmed with EOTE compared to Spider-Island but then again SI did have those backups leading to the event that added to the build up. Still enjoyed this regardless and yeah, I understand the criticisms with the dialog.

  18. Enigma_2099

    @#8 You done? Because if books cost $4 a pop, we have the right to complain. God, nothing frosts my balls more than uppity suck-ups...

  19. CrazyChris

    I thought the situation was "inherently different and dire." Sandman was in the world's biggest desert and theoretically could have become more powerful than he ever has before. I don't remember other stories where Spidey has had his own personal back-up team of scientists supplying him with tech on the fly, and the means they used to defeat Sandman was unique. Overall this did seem fresh to me, with the threat level escalated beyond the generic fight with Sandman. I liked the issue.

  20. Tom Winstone

    I enjoyed the issue, but can appriecte the review. If you compare this with say Batman #8 that book is modern and detailed, where as this one (art aside) feels like old material. I am no fan of Slotts work I admit, but when an arc sounds fun I'll check it out and this story is a 3star book fun but forgettable

  21. Mike 13

    I can't believe all the anti-old school comic book storytelling... like you've all "evolved" into some type of superior reader, and that comic books can never go back to what they were... Stick with the Vertigo books if cheesey storybook telling is too childish for you... oh wait, Vertigo books are comics, which would make them childish unto themselves... Christ... nothing gets my goat more than elitist nerds...

  22. stillanerd

    Okay, we're at the half-way point of this story, and while I don't think it's been terrible, I just find myself, thus far, underwhelmed by it. To compare it to Dan Slott's "Spider-Island" from last year, by the time we got to half-way point of that particular story, in which all the infected suddenly started turning into giant spiders, there was a sense that things couldn't have possibly have gotten any higher. Granted, one of the problems that story had was that it felt like there was TOO much stuff going on all at once, primarily because of the various tie-ins--including the fact that you had to read Venom in order to get major plot developments--but whatever it's faults, you certainly got the sense that it was epic in scale. By contrast, even though Ends of the Earth involves a potentially global-wide threat involving one of Spidey's most recognizable and greatest villains ever made, I just can't help but think just how THIN this story has been thus far. Yes, the fight between Spidey, Silver Sable, and Black Widow against the Sandman in the Sahara desert was decent enough and the way Spidey defeated him was quite clever, but it certainly doesn't help matters when Spidey himself tells Sandman during the fight, "That's your problem, Flint. The power of half a continent--and no imagination. Giant mallet fists? Please. Haven't seen you do that a kajillion times." Yes, I realize to remind readers that Flint Marko isn't all that bright, but at the same time, when you have a character calling attention to how unimaginative something is within the story itself, don't you run the risk of telling the reader "my story is unimaginative?" And couldn't help but think back to the episode from the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon in which Sandman incorporates the entire ocean floor to fight Spidey and all the sand constructs he came up with to battle Spidey vs. this fight which he has literally an entire ocean of sand to work with. I'll still read the rest of the story when it comes out, but so far, I don't think it's living up to hype. Still, we've got three other parts left, so there's still plenty of time for things to turn around.

  23. Max A. Frankow

    Yeah, I normally don't mind Slott's writing. But now it's starting to get to me. I was really looking forward to Spidey vs. Sandman in the Sahara, only to be disappointed. Someone, get Slott of this book. How long do writers normally stay on?

  24. tnr105

    Gee, It's sure nice of Black Widow to help out here while she and Bucky are under cover in Russia fighting Red Ghost and Doctor Doom in Winter Soldier...Wait, huh? I guess she borrowed Wolverine's uncanny ability to guest star in any issue regardless of logic.

  25. Phantom Roxas

    All he says is "I have plans for these "heroes." Gather them up. Except for the spider. Leave him to me." AvX isn't hurting this book from standing out as the grand culmination of Slott's run so far, assuming it's even supposed to be that. It's sad to hear that ASM has become a series of pretentious clichés.

  26. Peter

    @Two-Bit: No, he doesn't. The page he's referring to is right there. It's just an hyperbolic exaggeration to emphasize his criticisms with the comic.

  27. Peter

    I'm on the other side of the fence here, in that I can see how someone couldn't like this, but I love it. In fact, this is the first Slott Spider-Man issue I've loved in awhile. No Yost fill-ins, no Avengers taking precedence over everything, no feeling of filler adventures. Guest stars or not, it's Peter Parker and the supporting cast at Horizon Labs who come up with the solution to save the day, and Spider-Man who drives the action. Last issue, Spider-Man and the Avengers were beaten, handily. He did a lot of prep time, but he was outsmarted by Doc Ock every inch of the way. And when the whole world on their knees to Doc Ock, Spider-Man is the one who leads the fight back. I thought the fight against Sandman was clever, the usage of continuity neat(besides the one you mentioned, there's Sandman referencing his old relationship with Silver Sable), and Ramos really draws the hell out of it. My favorite details are the Spidey-Armor eyes he draws for panels to focus on the grains, and I do love the way he was taken out, literally going for the heart with Keemia. I thought this was a very solid victory for Spider-man, and this comic in general. I wasn't really feeling the first two issues for a variety of reasons, but I'm fully on board now. My biggest complaint was they could have gone bigger with the Sandman. He finally got control of the Sahara desert, and he basically does the same thing he always does, grow big and big smashy things. He's got the whole desert, he should have been HUUUUUGE, further establish how much more powerful a threat he is then usual. Oh well. And again, I love the tone of Slott's stories. We get enough super-serious Spider-Man from Venom and Scarlet Spider these days. I like that it's self-aware, it's humorous, it's fun to read, with unique voices for all of it's many characters. I can't wait for the next issue, frankly.

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