Review: Amazing Spider-Man #678 by Dan Slott & Humberto Ramos

Amazing Spider-ManĀ #678
I Killed Tomorrow, Part 1: Schodinger’s Catastrophe

Written by: Dan Slott
Pencilled by: Humberto Ramos
Inked by: Victor Olazaba
Coloring by Edgar Delgado
:Lettering by: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel Comics on Comixology

I can still remember the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man that I bought off the comic rack. It was Amazing Spider-Man 351, which featured Spider-Man and Nova fighting the Tri-Sentinel. Spider-Man very quickly became my favorite super-hero (followed closely by Silver Surfer oddly enough).

Over time, other heroes would take my top spot (Impulse, Green Arrow, Jack Knight), but I have always had a strong love for Spider-Man. Great powers, a stand out costume, and he always felt like a character I could relate to. It seems that whenever I come back to reading comics, Amazing Spider-Man is one of the books I always come back to. I checked out the last issue, because it was a Daredevil crossover, and even though it wasn’t by Dan Slott, I ended up picking up Amazing Spider-Man back issues stretching back to Big Time.

I also grabbed this issue which had a really cool premise, from the solicitation: “A glimpse of the future leaves Spider-Man with 12 hours to figure out how to stop it from happening.”

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with Peter talking about how much he loves his city and his job. He arrives at Horizon Labs, where he’s on “Double Check Duty” where one of the scientists is assigned to double check the work of another. He’s drawn the talkative and personable Grady Scraps who claims to have build a portal to the future. The portal takes you exactly 24 hours into the future. Grady walks through and brings back a newspaper from tomorrow as proof. Curious to check it out himself, Peter steps through and finds that New York City has been completely leveled.

Peter walks around the destroyed city, and finds a watch frozen at 3:10, which he believes must have been when disaster struck New York. Grady suggests that when Peter went through the portal, it meant that he skipped those 24 hours. So whatever happened, it must have been because Peter was gone during that time. Peter lies and tells Grady it is because of his friendship with Spider-Man. He tells Grady to look at the paper from the normal future, and tell him everything that Spider-Man was supposed to have done in those 24 hour period, so Spider-Man can make sure the bad future doesn’t happen.

Madame Web (Julia Carpenter) stops Spider-Man and tells him that he needs to do this alone, without the help of the Avengers or Fantastic Four, because that would change their futures too. Spider-Man gets in touch with Grady and begins a mad dash across the city. Apparently, he had a busy day, stopping a record number of purse snatchers, delivering twins, and stopping runaway cars. But none of this seems to have stopped the bad future from happening. The issue ends with Spider-Man watching the Symkaria Pride day parade at 3:09 still not knowing what he is supposed to be fixing.

Review: This story probably could have been told in one issue, but Slott does such a great job building the anticipation and danger that I really was glad that in the end he is making me wait a few weeks to find out what happened next. Even though it was a real doomsday scenario, Slott still kept the tone light-hearted, which I always think is a plus in a Spider-Man comic. I hate when Spider-Man gets too gloom and doom.

One thing I especially love about Slott’s run on Amazing Spider-Man is how well he has brought New York to life.

Some of my favorite comic runs have always treated the setting as a major part of the story (Starman’s Opal City comes to mind, and Seattle during Grell’s Green Arrow run), and it definitely helps that New York City is just about my favorite place in the world. Spider-Island was really good for this, and this issue also did it really well. It especially works because from the cover and solicit, we know that New York City is about to be in serious danger. I really think this helps make the reader fell connected to the danger faced.

Horizon Labs has really provided Spider-Man with a great new supporting cast. With Aunt May gone to Boston, and Spider-Man dumped by his girlfriend because he lied to her about being Spider-Man, it’s nice to see a strong stable supporting cast with lots of fun characters. Grady in particular always makes me laugh. I especially loved his fake echo when he talked about the doorway of tomorrow…orrow…orrow…

I am still waiting to see what happens when Spider-Man finds out who the mysterious “Number 6” is (a scientist at Horizon whose identity is being protected by the boss). The reader found out during Spider-Island, and it should create a very interesting dynamic when Spider-Man finds out.

Honestly, I don’t think Humberto Ramos is a great fit for this book. I like his work on a lot of titles (I especially loved it on Impulse), but I like my Spider-Man a little lessy cartoony. Above, I posted an image of New York demolished 24 hours in the future, and it just looks like random lines. No real sense of what we are looking at. There are a lot of artists who would have really brought that to life, and Ramos’ style just doesn’t really make that happen.

I prefer the way Mark Bagley or Sara Pichelli (the current artist on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man) draw Spider-Man. I even preferred Emma Rios’ art last issue, it gave the book a gritty realism that I think would work a lot better with the stories Slott has been telling. In the last few weeks, I’ve been catching up on Spider-Man back to Big Time, and there have been a lot of different artists. Without exageration, Ramos has been my least favorite.

I also thought it was a little strange that Amazing Spider-Man came out two weeks in a row. Marvel is getting a little ridiculous with trying to pump out their top sellers too many times a month. Especially this soon after a big event like Spider-Island. What would be so bad about doing one issue of Amazing Spider-Man a month? 4 bucks for a 24 page comic is already a strain, but asking the reader to pay it two weeks in a row is just extortion. At least before Spider-Island, Amazing Spider-Man had backup stories to make it feel like a better value. We don’t even get that anymore!

This was a very well written issue of Spider-Man, but the odd release schedule and Ramos’ art definitely made me drop the score some. With the right artist and price tag, this could easily have been a 8.5, but I feel comfortable giving it a 7.5. It’s still a very good comic and worth reading, but you might be better off waiting for it to come out in trade.

Final Score: 7.5 – Real intense story with great characterization, but the art really didn’t fit the tone of the book all that well. If it wasn’t for the book being Spider-Man, there is no way I would pay 4 bucks for this comic.

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