Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 666
And so begins Spider-Island! Issue 666, having nothing to do with devil, is the prelude to the biggest Spider-Man event since One More Day. Spider-Man is working overtime trying to protect New York, work with the Fantastic Four and the New Avengers, all the while keeping a job in a science lab and a girlfriend. Despite the pressure building on the wall crawler, Peter Parker seems to be having fun, though he fails to notice how those close to him are gaining the same powers as him.
This first issue in the saga is a lot of fun and bodes well for the rest of the arc. Dan Slott makes Peter look energetic in this oversized package. We see every major player for Spider-Island in one form or another and get a good sense of what’s to come. These characters, like Mary Jane, Aunt May, Carrie, the Jackel, Venom, JJJ, and Spider-Girl all have a strong presence. Some of course have more time than others, but for their role in this event they each get their due time. This only works because Slott makes New York feel alive and pulls together all the disperate parts of Peter’s life into this one issue. It helps that this living New York doesn’t despise Spider-Man, as Marvel seems tempted to make its citizens do every other arc.
Slott’s only real fault is his lack of subtly. It is pretty clear that Peter’s new found devotion to the sanctity of human life solely exists to be challenged at some point in this arc. This is literally said aloud at one point in this issue. Furthermore, the mastermind of the ensuing chaos is shown as a mouth with the rest of the body covered in shadows, in what has to be one of the most cliché ways to hide a villain’s identity.
There is also the layout and art, which line artist Stefano Caselli and colorist Marte Garcia approach with an impeccable style. Stefano manages to make most of his shots feel cinematic and unique. The vaguely anime inspired line work give an epic feel to normal events, like Jonah’s hammy reaction to his approval rating dropping or Peter nearly getting hit by a bus. Caselli, despite having a style that is remarkably from Marvel’s house brand, also makes all the characters recognizable even to a casual reader. He’s an excellent visual storyteller, and at times, you can get by without even looking at Slott’s dialogue. Garcia adds to that with his use of stark colours and gradients that give Spider-Man a cartoony feel, more so than with just Caselli’s lines alone. Garcia helps diversify characters in the panels, and like Caselli’s lines make each cameo or guest star feel recognizable.
All in all, this extra large issue is worth your money spent, and while it may not be perfect, it’s one of the best prologues I’ve seen to an event in a long time. To pull in all those threads, Slott has to drop a lot of references to other comics, which may alienate any casual readers. It’s a necessary evil and serves those curious enough to find the origin of these plot threads. Spider-Island is a great introduction to what I hope is a more focused summer blockbuster. As while I enjoy the world shattering nonsense of Fear Itself, there is something to having characters that are on screen long enough to be likeable.