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    Review: Amazing Spider-Man #666

    By | July 28th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Dan Slott
    Illustrated by Stefano Caselli

    THE SPIDER-MAN STORY OF THE DECADE BEGINS WITH THIS ‘SPIDER-ISLAND: PRELUDE’ Super-star writer Dan Slott and fan-favorite Spidey artist Stefano Caselli are back! New York has been INFESTED and the web grows as it gets ready to explode into SPIDER-ISLAND! Normal people are getting Spider-Powers! But not all of them realize that with great power must also come… you know the rest. Okay, sure we often say Peter Parker’s life will never be the same. But listen, pal, we’ve never been more serious. Heroes and villains are crawling all over Manahttan and no one knows why. This will change everything for Pete, for Spidey… and possibly for YOU! Look at it this way… If EVERYONE’S a Spider-Man… then no one is.

    Six! Six Six! The number of the spider! See, I could write solicits for Marvel! Dan Slott has been pulling in favorable review after favorable review since taking the reins of Amazing Spider-Man. Now he heads into probably the first big thing of his run. Excitement is high, but if things fall apart, this is where said falling apart will happen.

    …so, do things fall apart? Follow the cut and see.

    One of my first two Marvel comics was Maximum Clonage. I read it a few times, eventually gave up on trying to make sense of it, and didn’t read a Marvel comic again until the New Avengers: Illuminati. That being said, you can imagine my hesitation upon finding out that the Clone Saga’s fingerprints are all over this arc. The Jackal’s appearances in the back-matter of preceding issues had me ready to bail ship at any moment, but the way Slott characterized Miles Warren in this issue got me to calm down and approach it with an open mind. And I’m glad I did. From what I’ve seen in this issue, “Spider-Island” isn’t shaping up to be the spiritual successor to the Clone Saga, but to what the Clone Saga should have been. Peter has often been used as a sort of two-sided character: if he can’t beat an opponent with his spider-powers, he’ll rely on his intelligence, and vice versa. So what happens So what happens when an enemy that is Peter’s match in brain creates an army that is his match in brawn?

    Stefano Caselli is, in my opinion, an incredibly underrated artist of the industry. Most artists that have a fluid, energetic style similar to Caselli’s pull it off by keeping their lines “loose” – to use an abstract term that I probably throw around too much. Caselli’s work, on the other hand, is so very bold that it almost deceives you. “Wait a minute, that just looks too… solid. There’s no way he can be expressive with that kind of style!” But he is! In fact, he’s incredibly expressive. Take a look at the various panels of Spider-Man swinging through the New York sky, or Jameson’s miniature freakout. Drink in the awesome sequence of Peter and Madame Web sparring. I think part of the appeal for me comes from the various details he uses: clothes fold and crease as people move – even Peter’s suit! – and someone’s brow is always furrowing. These little details create the mirage of realism, when in actuality Caselli’s art is highly stylized. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking talking about, but I do know one thing: I love this art.

    By the way – and no offense to colorist Marte Gracia, who did a great job on this issue – but can we get Caselli and colorist Danielle Rudoni working together again? Those two make magic together. Anyway, moving on.

    “Spider-Island” seems to fit the bill for what I consider a good event. I know we’re only one issue in, but I’m not talking about the story. For example, I loved Civil War, but it fit the current model for events to a tee – a model I disagree with: writer/editorial comes up with a “big” story idea, it becomes an “event” mini, and it carries ramifications that other writers may not have planned for. “Spider-Island,” on the other hand, is something that Slott has been working on for a while, not something a different writer has thrown into the mix that he has to compensate for. It reaches out and touches other characters, but at its core it is a Spider-Man story. These summer blockbuster events may attract attention during their publication, but it seems to me that what people remember more years later is so-and-so’s run on ________. A few decades from now, when someone decides to read Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run, they’re probably going to pick up Civil War and Fear Itself to get the full picture. To read Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, though, all you’ll need (assuming things continue the way they are) are issues 648 through whatever-number-he-reaches. And that’s how it should be.

    Continued below

    Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a story arc by its first issue. Still, this lead-in to “Spider-Island” hits just the right beats to get me interested in what’s to come, and I’m sure it will do the same with a good amount of other people. As this issue begins, Peter’s life is going just right… and that’s just wrong. Slott knows this, and he milks it for all it’s worth, showing us just how peachy Pete’s life is these days, before he – assumedly – knocks it all down in a few months. Here we go.

    Total: 7.8 – Buy it!

    Walt Richardson

    Walt is a former editor for Multiversity Comics who just can't quit the site, despite the crushing burdens of law school and generally being tired all the time. You can follow him on Twitter @waltorr, but he can promise you you're in for a terrible time.