Amazing Spider-Man #670
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Tom Fowler
Just when you thought event storylines were stale and overplayed, along came Dan Slott with “Spider-Island.” This Spidey-centric event has, along with the X-Men’s “Schism” storyline, thus far surpassed any of the past few Marvel-wide books — including the current Fear Itself.
But I’ll get to that in a moment.
If you’ve missed the prelude in Amazing Spider-Man #666 and the first three parts of the story that followed, Dr. Miles Warren, AKA the Jackal, returned and unleashed an epidemic of genetically-altered bed bugs upon the city of New York. Bites from these bugs gave just about everyone in NYC spider powers, not everyone used them responsibly, Peter became the not-so-spectacular Spider-Man in light of everyone else having these powers, and the Avengers and several other heroes were called in to help keep the problem at bay.
Part four of Spider-Island, Amazing Spider-Man #670 opens right where the previous issue left off. Spider-Man’s current girlfriend, crime scene detective Carlie Cooper, has transformed into a spider creature along with the rest of the infected New Yorkers. Poor Pete…Now that all of Manhattan are spider monsters, he has no idea who he’s punching.
Moments like this are where Slott’s grasp on the book’s characters really shines through, and Ramos captures the breadth of Pete’s desperation accordingly in a full-page panel of Spidey on his knees, apologizing in vain to Carlie and watching helplessly as a stampede of formerly-human spider monsters rushes away into the city. Slott further delivers with a one-liner-filled Spidey/J. Jonah Jameson team-up that few others could have pulled off as well outside of a “What If?” book.
Alas, the team is not meant to last, as Jonah succumbs to the “spider flu” and transforms into a monster himself after arriving at his command center. I can’t elaborate any further without revealing a major spoiler, but it’s hard to imagine Jonah being the same after this.
Something that has really stuck out with me about this story arc is the effort put in to making sure the tie-in books fit in well with the main story. They aren’t necessary to have the full experience of “Spider-Island,” but they add depth and Marvel’s Spider Office has gone to great lengths to make sure everyone knows where they fit in the larger story. In this issue alone, there are at least two notes letting readers know where the Spider-Island: Avengers one-shot and Venom #7 fit.
Speaking of Venom #7, it basically details Venom’s (who, if you haven’t been keeping up, is now Flash Thompson and property of the U.S. Government) side-adventure to bring Eddie Brock AKA Anti-Venom to Reed Richards at Horizon Labs so an antidote can be extracted using the Anti-Venom symbiote. Rick Remender, who also writes the masterful Uncanny X-Force, captures Flash’s desperation to keep Venom under control as he fights the alien’s former host — even going so far as to tease fans by making it seem as though Venom is about to take over Brock again. (Damn you, Remender!) Fowler perfectly captures the fear in Eddie’s eyes as this is happening.
To add a bit of extra drama, Flash must complete this job quick, as his estranged, abusive father is in the hospital on his death bed with mere hours to live. Again, Remender captures the added turmoil within Flash throughout the book.
Overall, these are both solid issues. Slott and Ramos continue to deliver the goods in Amazing Spider-Man, delivering one of the most fun events in recent memory (while using a villain nobody wanted to go near after the “Clone Saga” storyline of the mid-90s, no less). You can get the full Spider-Island experience without Venom, but Remender’s run on the series has breathed new life into the character, and Fowler’s art is icing on the cake. I could go on all day, but if I did that, you wouldn’t need to read the books.
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