One of the biggest comics of the year, and possibly the decade, delivers.
Dan Slott’s last story arc ends today with one of the biggest milestone issues of the year. It’s not only the 800th issue — it’s also massive in size (with an equally hefty price tag of $10). It’s well worth the price based on the pages, but how does the comic fare? It’s epic in scope and has tons of twists and turns, effectively wrapping up the Red Goblin in an exciting way, but what about Spider-Man’s friends?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
THE MONUMENTAL ANNIVERSARY ISSUE IS HERE TO CONCLUDE “GO DOWN SWINGING!” Dan Slott and Stuart Immonen are joined by many of the artists who made the last 10 years of Spider-Man so Amazing! The biggest Peter Parker/Norman Osborn story of all time unfolds over one oversized story, a scope unmatched in comics! Who lives?! Who dies?! And what scars will Spider-Man bear from here on out?!
Why does this matter?
This issue has six artists contributing and contains a heck of a lot of big reveals and even bigger deaths. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but if you want to be in the know with Spider-Man you gotta read this.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Told in four chapters (with an after credits scene too), Dan Slott has accomplished much in this single issue. Running 80 pages, it’s a giant story — really, it’s four issues of the comic in one, which makes the $10 price tag worth it, and it comes with some dramatic twists and turns. Elements such as Red Goblin are wrapped up while new beginnings are just underway. This is a comic that will take some time to get through and it was a great idea to give it chapters because it flows as if it’s chunks of story all combining into one crazy climax. Slott does a good job with each chapter, effectively giving characters like Venom or J. Jonah Jameson moments to shine.
If you were to pinpoint a core element of this issue it’s that Spider-Man is only as strong as his bonds with his friends. The final double page layout reconfirms this, but you don’t have to read that page to see it. Mary Jane, Jameson, and others all pop up to give Spidey the backup he needs, be it emotional or physical. As the story progresses we get to see Spider-Man do some fantastic things (like don the Symbiote suit once again) and it’s in his tenacity that we see how he can beat bad guys like Red Goblin who seem to be impervious to defeat.
This issue houses quite a few cataclysmic moments, including a big one in the end credits scene that takes place after the letters page. It’ll be interesting to see what Nick Spencer uses, but it’s clear he’s going to have a few things off the table as Slott has some big deaths go down in this issue. Slott was always good at capturing the hard working and never quitting Spider-Man and you get a lot of it in this issue.
The art is shared by six artists including Nick Bradshaw, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Marcos Martin, Stuart Immonen, Mike Hawthorne and Humberto Ramos. It’s fitting since all of these artists were hugely important to story arcs in Slott’s run on the series. Each artist takes on a chapter with Immonen closing out with the big finish. Camuncoli gets the last word with an epilogue moment and technically Hawthorne closes the book out with the after credits scenes. If you’ve read all of Slott’s run or even dabbled you’re bound to have seen one of these artists working on the series. Immonen delivers on a huge blockbuster battle in Times Square, Bradshaw opens the book and works on getting the story kicked off, Ramos delivers on some big Venom action, and Martin is given the task of one of the most emotional moments in the book. It’s an all-star cast of artists and it’s stellar all the way through.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s funny, after reading the free comic book day comic by Nick Spencer and then reading this you realize Slott doesn’t add much humor at all. There’s really only one joke in the entire comic and it’s a dark one committed by the Red Goblin. There’s no banter from Spider-Man or jokes really at all. Given his friends and family are in danger that makes some sense, but it’s also strangely out of character. Maybe not so much for Slott who hasn’t done the wisecracking hero much, but it’s a missing element in the comic.
My only other gripe is the opening which takes a while to get going and is quite slow. It takes about seven pages to get to any action with much of those seven pages devoted to exposition and setting things up.
Is it good?
This is a great finish and, despite the hefty the price, a great deal too. You’re getting basically four issues worth of story for ten bucks (a steal when one issue is usually $4). Dan Slott may have one issue left, but he goes out on a heavy and climactic story arc here. Spider-Man faces insurmountable odds and Slott delivers on big action and even bigger twists and turns. The art team is stellar and does a fantastic job landing all the heavy dramatic beats.