With all the hyper-serious media frenzy stuff happening in comics, I want people to really start focusing on those writers who are returning the art form to a state of grace. For Marvel, Mark Waid is bringing the fun and enjoyment back into comics with Daredevil, as is Dan Slott with his addictively fun Spider Island story. Amazing Spider-Man #668, the second installment of Spider Island, is as good as comics get. Tremendous artwork and a story that’s unapologetically fun to read all coalesce to give fans a serious page-turner.
Chaos is the name of the game in issue #668. We’re dropped into the middle of a spider-powered free for all and the pace doesn’t let up for a second. Slott understands that a story doesn’t need to slow to a crawl in order for it to evolve. Thanks to the Jackal, all the residents of Manhattan Island are infused with spider powers. Those who take these powers as a way to wreak havoc are battling the Avengers and the new FF. In the middle of this melee Slott shocks us by having the Avengers force Spider-Man to stay out of the fight in order to avoid becoming an accidentally causality. In lesser hands, this could have been some overly emotional, drawn-out way to make Peter Parker a sad-sack again, but Slott’s too smart for that.
In what can only be called an inspired writing decision, Slott has Peter pretend he too suddenly received spider powers and puts a call out across the internet for fellow spidery New Yorkers to get involved in the current battle. The splash page where Peter Parker leads an army consisting of a UPS guy, a sports fan, some hit chicks, a comic nerd, a fat Goth kid a cop and others into a battle to aid the Avengers is drop-the-issue awesome. Slott even manages to work in a Ghostbusters reference! See what I mean, exciting and fun. Comics are supposed to be a good time and Slott revels in that idea. I’m sure as Spider Island continues it will get more serious, but I have faith that the story will mix those elements with the pure entertainment factor.
The rest of Amazing Spider-Man #668 keeps the pace, but gives us more meat for where the Spider Island idea is headed. We’re re-introduced to the mystery of who runs Lab Six at Horizon Labs, as well as the imminent end of either Venom or Anti-Venom. In between the plots points there’s the delightful back and forth of new spider-couple Peter Parker and girlfriend Carlie. There’s also a nice cliffhanger, one that seems to indicate we might meet the mysterious woman running the Jackal’s little spider show.
Humberto Ramos does more stellar work here. The man knows how to give us action; he knows how to make comics seem bigger than life without it getting ridiculous. His childlike excitement in drawing a city full of web slingers is palpable. This is the kind of comic book art I love, the stuff that is beautifully produced but never lets us forget these are comics. It’s heightened reality that leans more towards an animated vision. Even though the faces are rather basic, they convey emotion perfectly. Ramos is an artist that, with each passing issue, I love more and more. Amazing Spider Man #668 and Spider Island are textbook examples of what makes the medium of comic books so extraordinary.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING 9/10