Amazing Spider-Man #653
“Revenge of the Spider-Slayer, Part Two: All You Love Will Die”
Plot: Dan Slott
Script: Fred Van Lente
Art: Stefano Caselli
Colors: Edgar Delgado
- The assault on the base continues from last issue, with Smythe’s forces closing on Jameson’s motorcade as Spider-Man and the Scorpion face off on the exterior of the shuttle.
- The shuttle is ultimately saved with the unnoticed aid of Dr. Octopus, though the combined efforts of Spider-Man and the scientists on the ground serve to obscure this fact.
- Shortly thereafter, the cavalry arrives in the form of the New Avengers.
- The Insect Army, meanwhile, begins to attack more of Jameson’s loved ones, specifically May and Marla at the day spa and Robbie at the Bugle.
- Groups of Avengers race to each location to protect the intended targets.
- It quickly becomes apparent that Smythe has found a way to duplicate Peter’s spider-sense, and Peter hurries to Horizon labs to devise a countermeasure.
- Upon arrival at Horizon, Max Modell confronts Peter and tells him they need to talk about “you and Spider-Man”.
- The Squirrel Girl scene. Just because you’re about to die doesn’t mean you can’t be polite.
- In a few panels, the lenses on Spider-Man’s mask are drawn transparent. It’s a little odd, as I can’t remember having seen that before (And I’ve read a lot of Spider-Man!), but it’s a unique way of displaying emotions and reactions through the mask.
- Jonah demanding “real Avengers”. While I must confess I haven’t been reading the books, I’m still not sure why the New Avengers even exist as a separate entity anymore.
- Slott continues to reference the Lee/Ditko run.
- With Doc Ock’s cameo, the seeds are planted for a future story.
- Characterization of the Insect Army remains superficial at best.
- Phil Urich as creepy evil crazy guy. While I am interested in where things are going with the newly-minted Hobgoblin, as someone who read the short-lived Green Goblin series back in the nineties (not to mention a Spider-Girl fan) I’m just not quite sold on this characterization yet.
- While the tension consistently escalated last issue, the involvement of the Avengers causes it to briefly plateau this time.
All told, the writing remains solid, and while Caselli’s pencils seem to lean in a somewhat more stylized direction this issue, they remain excellent. However, I didn’t think it was quite on the same level as 652. It wasn’t a tremendous disappointment, but as I alluded to above, the arrival of the Avengers made the issue somewhat less suspenseful as a whole. The problem here, however, is that this represents something of a catch-22. After all, if the Avengers show up and it hurts the suspense, that’s a problem. But if Peter goes up against such overwhelming odds (to say nothing of the personal stake he has in the outcome) and doesn’t at least try to contact the superhero team of which he is a member, then he just looks like a complete idiot, so I’d say Slott definitely went with the lesser of two evils. Another major plus, was the fact that even amid all of the chaos of the current story, Slott still takes the time to seed future events. That in particular was something that I saw as glaringly absent during the Brand New Day run, as the various writers often (though admittedly not always) seemed more interested in developing their own arcs and characters than in working towards a greater whole, so it’s good to see this sort of foreshadowing again. Finally, I remain concerned about the level of development being given to the members of the Insect Army. While this issue introduces us to a further two individuals (bringing the total to three) it consists of little more than a name and a one-sentence reason for why they want Jonah to suffer. While I do understand that there’s only so many pages in which to develop these characters (and the fact of the matter is, they don’t need to be too thoroughly fleshed out in their introductory story anyway), I still believe that in order for this version of the Spider Slayer concept to work, they need to eventually develop into more or less three dimensional characters.