The story format of beginning, middle and end is a lot tougher to realize than most think. A beginning is easy, there’s curiosity and tension. The end is also a smoother road because everyone’s waiting for the big pay off. The middle is where things get hairy. If you don’t know how to make the middle work, it can derail your entire story. With Amazing Spider-Man #671, the Spider Island story is in the middle. Not only is it in the middle, it’s in the transition from the middle to the end. If that doesn’t work, the entire thing implodes. Rest easy though, you’re in the hands of Dan Slott and there isn’t a better craftsman currently in the comic book biz.
So what’s been going on with Spider-Island? Let me explain. No. There is no time. Let me sum up. Jackal, working for the Spider Queen released genetically altered bedbugs that have given every inhabitant of New York City spider powers. The resulting riot has brought in every super hero you can imagine to regain control. Meanwhile, Peter Parker is split between battling the growing spider folks as Spider-Man and using his scientific mind alongside Reed Richards to discover a cure. It’s not just that the victims are getting spider powers but eventually they mutate into a giant spiders that are controlled by the Spider Queen.
Issue 671 works because Slott realizes when it’s time to show all the cards. Everything is coming completely unraveled and Slott has wisely picked up the pace. The mutations are happening faster, Anti-Venom is being drained to create a cure, Spidey is battling his mutated clone and, as a final topper, Madame Web may have given the Spider Queen the power of a God. Yep, the snowball has turned into an avalanche and everybody is getting buried. It’s a testament to Dan Slott’s ability as a writer that he can maintain such control over such a mess of events. There’s no fat here, every single page needs to be included for the story to work. Rarely is a comic such a precise house of cards but Slott nails it across the board. He even manages to make the reveal of who is in Laboratory Six a drop-the-comic moment without it being any kind of lame plot device.
Ultimately, issue 671 pushes all the elements into a bottleneck, allowing all parties to head towards what is sure to be a crushing finale. Keeping pace with Slott through the entire thing is Humberto Ramos. His art captures all the excitement, all the action and fits perfectly with what Spider Island is all about. Ramos’ style is very unique, it’s a heightened reality, a way of presenting characters that is uniquely comic book. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but usually it allows us to remember that we’re reading a comic and that comics are supposed to be bigger than life.
On a side note, Ramos outdoes himself with the cover. As sad and pathetic of a nerd as this makes me sound, the cover of Mary Jane Watson is really hot. I know that my fellow geeks that have girlfriends will be attempting to get those girlfriends to wear Mary Jane’s outfit.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10