Amazing Spider-Man #655

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente

Lettering by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

This should have been Marvel's "Point One" entree into the world of Spider-Man. Because reading this issue, a few things stood out to me: It's a fantastic primer into the life of Peter Parker. Its technique is pitch-perfect thanks to Marcos Martin and some daring colorwork by Muntsa Vicente. And it is -- by far -- the best issue of Amazing Spider-Man that Dan Slott has ever written.

I don't give this praise lightly. While I appreciated the conclusion of the last arc in Amazing Spider-Man because of the future tension it would cause, I'll admit that it all felt a little too frenetic, a little too busy, a little too light. There's a reason why they have the phrase "sophomore slump" -- if you start out with a bang, it's often a challenge to up the ante your second time around.

But this issue plays to Dan Slott's strengths. Part of that is thematic -- in the wake of Marla Jameson's funeral, Slott analyzes the wake of death and destruction that has been with Peter Parker as far back as Amazing Fantasy #15. Perhaps the best word to describe the pacing is impressionistic -- the scenes smear into one another in a way that only comics can provide. And something that I think a lot of fans will appreciate it the mixture of continuity and metafiction in this issue, whether its the question of the villains always coming back because of Peter's refusal to kill, or Marla Jameson questioning if she too will come back from the dead. "I used to build Spider-Slayers. That makes me a super villain," she says. "And super villains always come back."

Going back to what I said earlier about playing to strengths -- Marcos Martin is Dan Slott's artistic soulmate. Connect the two at the hip, lock 'em in an apartment and throw away the key, but Martin knows how to leverage Slott's dense pacing for all it's worth. Five panels, six panels, seven panels -- yeah, Humberto Ramos managed to pull it off, but Martin makes you forget to notice. It all seems effortless, but I'm sure that's not the case -- just on the first page, Martin knocks you out with the frozen look on J. Jonah Jameson's face. One page of him going through the motions -- all with that empty second space next to him -- and somehow, even a forgotten character like Marla Jameson has some weight.

And something else I should mention, from a technical standpoint -- this book absolutely flows. It's a question of chicken-and-egg if Slott is writing for Martin's specific flexibility, or Martin's flexibility bringing Slott's writing to a brand new level. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Muntsa Vicente, who out of everyone in this book, is the biggest risktaker. He starts off this issue with cool, realistic colors -- but as soon as things ramp up and we drive down memory lane, he starts bringing in some really garish hues to play up the emotional surprise. Sometimes I think he used the colors a little early, but a sequence of Spidey and the Green Goblin against a blood-red background? That's a nightmare that really screams at you.

Looking at this issue as a whole, I can't help but think that this is the future of comics, even as it harkens DC-style into the distant past. Marcos Martin in particular has some great things ahead of him, and I think this issue of Amazing Spider-Man -- flagship character and all -- is only the beginning. There's a lot drama and a lot of heart to this issue, as Slott and Martin really serve up a stellar package. Is there necessarily an answer to the question of "what will you do now?" Perhaps not -- but the emotional journey that Peter takes is well worth the price of admission.


Godland #34

Written by Joe Casy

Art by Tom Scioli and Bill Crabtree

Lettering by Rus Wooton

Published by Image Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

Joe Casey and Tom Scioli’s Godland started out as a Lee/Kirby pastiche, borrowing heavily on the language and appearance of 1960’s Marvel Comics. Godland #34 is still very much a love song to the comic book cosmic landscape that they created but it also shows how the book has grown far beyond it, developing its own tone and look that should make Lee and Kirby proud.

Visually, this issue captures the majesty and grace that Kirby created in books like Thor, Fantastic Four and New Gods. On the surface, Scioli perfectly mimics Kirby’s artwork, right down to the Kirby crackly and ornate designs for giant celestial beings. For any fan of the later Kirby Fantastic Four or his Fourth World stuff, Godland #34 is pure eye candy as Scioli. But more than just doing a Kirby impersonation, Scioli uses Kirby’s visual style but applies it in a completely modern way as he plays around with layouts, compressing and decompressing time and space to create a comic that’s as much about the visual spectacle as it is about Joe Casey’s story.

While Scioli is getting his cosmic Kirby on, Casey packs the issue with giant space stations, giant space vikings and blue glowing space women. Casey jams a lot of action and energy in this book. Even if you don’t quite know what is going on half of the time, Casey never loses the feeling of forward motion. In fact, this issue feels like it starts out going 110 mph and constantly accelerates through to the end. 

Godland #34 is a great looking book, reminding you of the pageantry and spectacle of the first superhero comics books that you loved. Casey and Scioli tap into the excitement of comics that exist purely to be comics.Casey and Scioli aren’t trying to create a movie or tv show and disguise it as a comic.Godland is a comic book, from the Kirbyesque lines to the Lee-like flowery caption boxes. Casey and Scioli wear their influences on their sleeves and want everyone to see them.

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