Best Shots Review: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #801 'the Perfect Love Letter' to Spider-Man - 8/10

Marvel Comics June 2018 solicitations
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Russell Dauterman/Matt Wilson (Marvel Comics)

Amazing Spider-Man #801
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

This is it — the end of an era — as Dan Slott says goodbye to a 10-year tenure writing the Amazing Spider-Man. And as someone who fondly remembers the announcement of Slott taking over as sole writer of Marvel’s Friendly Neighborhood Web-Slinger, watching him leave can’t help but feel bittersweet — not only are commercially and critically successful runs as long as Slott’s basically a unicorn in comics, but the sheer love Slott has displayed for the character has been so obvious and apparent, from "Big Time" all the way to "Go Down Swinging." In many ways, even across decades of Marvel fans, Slott has felt like Spider-Man’s ultimate True Believer, and it’s with that in mind that his quiet, understated goodbye to Spidey feels like the perfect send-off.

While Slott has been known for shaking up Peter Parker’s life with high concepts like Horizon Labs, a brain-swap with Otto Octavius, or merging Norman Osborn with the Carnage symbiote, his approach has always been character-centric — he instinctively gets what qualities separate Spider-Man from the rest, and it’s those qualities that define his slice-of-life final issue, bringing the “friendly neighborhood” to his short but sweet final coda.

For some, Slott focusing his final narrative on one person Spider-Man has rescued might seem counterintuitive — but to me, it makes perfect sense. Spider-Man was born out of a personal, intimate mistake — the death of his Uncle Ben — and in that regard, Slott gets the karmic formula that has made Peter Parker’s quest so resonant over the years: every life he saves is payback for the one life he let get away. And in so doing, Spider-Man — even when he’s not on the page — means something to people on an almost totemic basis, his spirit hanging over the lives of everyone he’s rescued and inspired like a spider on a string. “Every person out there means the world to somebody,” Slott writes. “And Spidey’s out there risking his neck for all of ‘em.”

Credit: Marvel Comics

But by teaming up again with artist Marcos Martin, Slott is able to have his cake and eat it, too. While the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man tied into a lot of Peter’s current supporting cast, Martin weaves together some beautiful montages from across Spider-Man’s history, from a fantastic sequence of Spidey dodging bullets in a convenience store to a truly spectacular double-page spread of him battling the Sinister Six, complete with inset panels of the aftermath of his rescued bystanders’ lives. It’s a soft-handed approach for an industry used to blowing things up, but Slott is able to trust Martin with selling the emotional moments more than just pure spectacle, showing the happy human dividends to Spider-Man’s never-ending battle.

During moments like these, it’s hard not to feel a bit wistful — ever since he was first announced as the sole writer of Amazing Spider-Man, it felt like kismet for a writer like Dan Slott to be working on a character like this, a character he so clearly loved and understood and, as this issue shows, valued his importance as both a symbol and as an inspiration. Slott’s run on Spider-Man feels like a testament not just to one writer’s ingenuity, but his faith in the transformative power of fiction. And while Slott’s previous issue might have felt like a bigger, more epic climax to his years-long run with the character, it’s this beautifully produced epilogue that feels like the perfect love letter to an all-time classic superhero.

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