Amazing Spider-Man #620

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido

Colors by Javier Rodriguez

Lettering by VC's Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

With Mysterio pulling the trigger for an explosive underworld double-cross, Amazing Spider-Man #620 is quite the free-wheeling book, with the enthusiasm of writer Dan Slott and artists Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido bleeding through just about every page.

Of course, tonally this issue feels a lot lighter than the previous chapters -- much of the heavier elements of Dan Slott's storyline are excised to make this story tie up neatly -- but what surprised me the most was that it actually worked in this arc's favor. There's a real level of showmanship and even comedy to this Spidey vs. Mysterio fight, which makes exploding entrails and even a kick to the crotch seem pretty funny. Perhaps even more surprising is the level of exposition to this book -- there are a lot of moving parts to this arc, but it's to Slott's credit that he tries to keep you in the loop, even if you haven't read the previous chapters involved.

That said, Marcos Martin does a heroic job in realizing Slott's scripts, with nothing ever seeming cramped or bland. It's clear that he shares Slott's enthusiasm for Mysterio, because every page the villain is on just sings -- particularly, a one-on-one fight with Spider-Man as they fight within a room filled with toxic gas. Martin's panel composition is particularly masterful -- he really knows how to draw the eye to even a small image, while never making any of it look diminished in either detail or emotion. Colorist Javier Rodriguez is the perfect complement to this book, making all the images -- particularly the Dragon's Breath -- really pop.

Certainly, of course, there will be some people who feel disappointed that the weightier elements of this story -- such as Aunt May being corrupted by Mr. Negative, or Harry Osborn getting kicked to the curb, or even the ambiguity regarding dead and/or murdered cops and crooks -- being dropped in this final issue, but the sheer fun it seems that all involved are having is more than enough to carry the book forward. Even with its illusion-casting villain, it's clear that the good humor and the great art makes this "Mysterioso" arc as solid as they come.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Takeshi Miyazawa

Colors by Justin Ponsor

Lettering by VC's Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

And lo, there shall come... a TEAM-UP!

While Brian Michael Bendis has been charming readers with the inclusion of supporting characters like the Human Torch, Iceman and Kitty Pryde, this issue finally brings some of these characters together for action, as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends go toe-to-toe with a wildly powerful -- yet ultimately sympathetic -- new superbeing. But with a new artist on this arc, does the book still sing?

For regular readers of Best Shots, you'll know that I adore David Lafuente's work, mainly for the sheer personality of his designs. Takeshi Miyazawa doesn't quite have that knack for design (indeed, many of the faces do look somewhat similar to one another), but the emotion and power is very similar to that of his predecessor. The look of this book really kicks into high gear, however, when the heroes suit up, with the Human Torch looking great. Indeed, Miyazawa's use of special effects -- aided ably by colorist Justin Ponsor -- is the real highlight of the book, with Spidey getting zapped to Detroit looking particularly slick.

Bendis, meanwhile, is starting to dip his toe into the waters of continuity, but not in such a way that alienates the reader. By having fun scenes such as Aunt May telling Peter, Johnny and Bobby to "put on your costumes and go be super heroes" or Bobby Drake utterly failing to make a good impression with a brand-new possibly-mutant is what makes this book so compelling -- all the characters are human, with all the comedy that goes with it. That said, Bendis knows where his bread-and-butter is, and rightly gives Peter the main focus of the script, such as the aforementioned Detroit scene.

So with a new artist on board and a dash of continuity thrown in, how does this book rate? It's as strong as it ever was. While I initially would have welcomed seeing Lafuente taking on this team-up, I think the editors involved with this book were smart to place the artist switch right as Bendis' story revved up, because this book doesn't lose one iota of steam despite the change-up. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is a fun, fantastic read, and I seriously can't wait to see where it goes next.

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