Review: Amazing Spider-Man #681 by Dan Slott, Chris Yost, & Giuseppe Camuncoli

Amazing Spider-Man #681

Written by: Dan Slott & Chris Yost
Penciledby: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by: Klaus Janson
Coloring by Frank D’ Armata
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

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

This might be the most unnecessary complaint you will ever hear from me about a comic, but it drives me nuts that Marvel isn’t more consistent about titling their comics. Last Amazing Spider-Man review I did was issue 678 “I Killed Tomorrow, Part 1: Schodinger’s Catastrophe,” but then this issue doesn’t have a title at all. I know, I know. It’s not a big deal at all, I just like consistency, especially when formatting reviews.

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue, Spider-Man and Human Torch went up to the Horizon space station to figure out what was going on up there when the station loses contact with Earth.  They quickly discovered that John Jameson was the only astronaut left with his own mind, as Doc Ock’s mini-Ock’s have turned the rest of the crew into zombies.

Things were further complicated because the lack of gravity made Spider-Man’s webbing useless and the limited oxygen meant Human Torch couldn’t really use his powers either.

John Jameson, Torch, and Spidey quickly discover that Doc Ock has cut off their escape, destroying both Torch’s Pogo plane and the station’s shuttle. They reach out to Horizon labs and get them to cut off the oxygen to the station to knock out the mini-Ock zombies. In retaliation, Doc Ock sends the station plummeting towards Earth.

Using magnetic webbing and some clever uses of Torch’s powers, Spidey and Torch are able to get everyone into the stations Deep Space Sensory Deprivation Chamber, and guide everyone to safety. Johnny even manages to land them close to Daytona Beach for spring break.

Meanwhile, Doc Ock is ready to move his grand plan into motion, setting up the huge Sinister Six arc starting next issue called “Ends of the Earth.”

Review: Call me a total dork, but I absolutely love when stories have symmetry. When this “Doc Ock’s last Hurrah” storyline started way back in Amazing Spider-Man 600, it involved Spider-Man and Human Torch teaming up to stop Doc Ock’s plans to remake New York in his own image. So having a Spider-Man/Torch team up to lead into Ends of the Earth  was a clever touch.

One thing I noticed is at the end of the issue, when we see the group shot of the Sinister Six, it looks like Rhino and Sandman’s eyes are glowing like the astronauts Doc Ock had “zombified” with his mini-Ocks. I wonder if this means some of the Sinister Six might not be acting under their own volition.

I actually really liked when Sandman was a hero and an Avenger, so I am always hoping to see Marvel get him back on that track, so this could just be wishful thinking on my part.

I also am curious how the various plans we’ve seen Doc Ock and the Sinister Six all tie together in Ends of the Earth. It should be something pretty epic!

Slott has done a brilliant job of making Spider-Man a must read comic again. The stories are just intense, and all of the characters really get a chance to take the spotlight. I loved seeing Spidey and Torch using all of their powers in a variety of ways to save the day. I also loved the subtle hints of characterization dropped by John and Jonah through the issue. Slott truly doesn’t seem to waste a single line of dialouge, which I always think is impressive.

I haven’t read too much of Chris Yost’s work, but if this issue is any indication, he is a great addition to the team!

I did think that some of the art on this issue was inconsistent at times. This has been a major problem with Amazing Spider-Man the last few issues.  Issue to issue, it’s never clear who the artist is going to be, and the book seems to look very different from arc to arc.  In this issue, there seemed to be some inconsistencies even from panel to panel.  For one of Marvel’s flagship titles, the art needs to be much better…or at the very least more consistent!

Also, the threat never quite felt as immediate as it should have. I try not to be too jaded a comic reader, but at no point did I really feel like Spider-Man, Torch, John Jameson, or the crew of the station were any real danger. And this is probably foolish of me, since Slott has shown no problem killing characters in shocking ways (RIP Marla Jameson).

As brilliant as the characterizations were in the last two issues, I did sort of feel like I was sort of biding time to Ends of The Earth, a story line that has literally been building for the last 80 issues.  Don’t get me wrong, this was still a very good comic, but if I am honest with myself, I not sure it was worth paying 8 bucks for these two issues.

From my perspective, I would rather read one awesome issue of Spider-Man a month than 3 very good issues of Spider-Man.  Get a top of the line artist on here, relax the release schedule, and Spider-Man would easily deserve a 9 AT LEAST every issue.

Final Score: 8.0 – Still a little expensive and not loving the art, but Amazing Spider-Man still is great. Really looking forward to Ends of the Earth!

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