Review: Amazing Spider-Man #684 by Dan Slott & Humberto Ramos

Amazing Spider-Man #684

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

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue ended with Spider-Man and the Avengers getting taken out by the Sinister Six (though they did manage to remove Electro from the field). This issue starts with someone in a stealth suit moving behind the scenes during the last minutes of the fight. First the mysterious stranger rescue Black Widow from the crashed Quinjet, and then blows up the Quinjet to provide the distraction Spider-Man needs to release himself from Doc Ock’s control and escape.

Doc Ock and the rest of the Sinister Six take the rest of the Avengers alive.

Spidey quickly discovers that his rescuer is Silver Sable using Symkarian stealth technology. Spidey asks why she rescued only Black Widow and himself, and she explains:

Spider-Man is contacted by Horizon Labs, now operating in international waters after JJJ shut down their New York labs. They offer to put their full technological muscle behind Spider-Man in his fight against the Sinister Six.

Meanwhile, Doctor Octopus is addressing the United Nations, making his demands for saving the world. 2 billion dollars and full pardons for each member of the Sinister Six and the construction of the Octavius Academy to forever recognize his genius. He gives them a list of launch sites he will be using to send his lens into the sky to stop global warming.

Several of the world nations seem to willing to go along with this. The Symkarian ambassador reaches out to Silver Sable, telling her that one of the sites is near Symkaria. Spidey and company decide to head there, when Spidey realizes is it in the Saharan Desert and would likely draw Sandman there.

Spidey works with Horizon to put some plans in place, including the creation of what he calls “the pink hippo app” and a way to radioactively tag and trace a single grain of sand. Spider-Man has a theory that Sandman has one “core” molecule that guides the rest of his body.

They arrive at the base, and Sandman attacks, with the full mass of the Sahara Desert to use as a weapon. Spidey tags the “core grain” and then puts into place the Pink Hippo app, where Widow, Sable, and himself are able to protect images into Sandman’s head to force him to turn into whatever shape they want.

Spidey is able to get Sandman to change into his daughter, forcing his “core molecule” to the surface where Spidey is able to grab and contain it. Spidey is thrilled that he’s managed to take out two members of the Sinister Six, but then Octopus tells the world that Spider-Man is trying to stop him from saving the world and should be treated like a global threat.

Review: One detail I would have loved to have seen expanded on was Sandman’s past as a hero. I know Captain America mentioned it in passing last issue, and Sandman refers briefly to his past working for Silver Sable in this issue, but I  thought there was some missed opportunity to really expand on that.

Part of it is that when I started reading comics, Sandman was a hero, so that is how I think of him in a lot of ways.  I’ve always been a sucker for stories where a villain changes his ways.

There were lots of great character moments in this issue, including some that come dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall like Silver Sable teasing Spider-Man about his many costume changes and Spider-Man saying Silver Sable’s invisible jet reminds him of something out of a comic book.

I did think that it was strange that they included Widow in the story and really didn’t seem to give her much of a role. I really hope that changes over the next few issues.

Even with all the great character moments, this story has been epic so far. I am not quite sure why the world would be so willing to go along with Doc Ock’s plans, but that’s a pretty easy suspension of disbelief to make.

One thing that bugs me is that why are the world governments in comic books (a lot of fiction come to think about it) such pussies? In this issue, they were all tripping over each other to go along with Doc Ock; there is a very similar scene to this in Irredeemable.

Back in the day, Humberto Ramos was one of my favorite artists in Impulse and X-Nation 2099, though I hadn’t really been loving his work on Amazing Spider-Man. It often just seemed like caricatures, and didn’t have the great detail some of the other Spider-Man artists seemed to put into this book. I suspect it’s because of the hurried schedule they have Amazing Spider-Man on.

This issue was a huge turn around back to the Ramos I used to love. The fight with Sandman in the Sahara was just brilliantly drawn and written.

Ends of the Earth continues to get bigger and better each issue. Even after Spider-Island, which I liked quite a bit, this is shaping up to be one of the best Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read. I honestly have no idea how Slott and Ramos can top Ends of the Earth (and you know they will try with issue 700 coming at us pretty quickly).

Ever since Big Time, Amazing Spider-Man has really reclaimed its deserved position as one of Marvel’s top titles. I do miss the back up stories, but I still think that I am ALMOST getting my four dollars worth from each issue. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not.  If I didn’t love this book, I sure wouldn’t be this eager to pay my four bucks for each issue to see what happens next.  Highly recommended.

Final Score: 8.5 – Ends of the Earth has been epic! One of the best Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read, and we still have three issues to go!

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