I love that editor Steve Wacker has used “Amazing Spider-Man” as an artist showcase for the now-well-past-the-“Brand-New-Day”-status-quo. It’s a brilliant way to deliver serialized superhero comics, overall, with a thrice-monthly shipping schedule to keep the narrative momentum going, plenty of collaboration between rotating writers (led by the puppet masters known as the “Spidey Brain Trust,” or, in this issue, “Web-Heads”), and artists who come in, provide a dash of their own unique energy for an arc, and then flit off into the ether.
Spider-Man, as a character, as a concept, as a series, lends itself better to such treatment than, say, “Daredevil,” who is such a singular character, with such a narrow scope in even the best Daredevil comics, that he benefits from steady creative teams. But the manic, hyperactive “Amazing Spider-Man” flourishes when you bring in guys like Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido and then come right back with Dan Slott and Marcos Martin within the month. Not that Pulido and Martin are strikingly different artists, but mix in a Canete, a Fiumara, a Romita, Jr., a Kitson over the past year, and you see the spectrum of superhero splendor.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that “Amazing Spider-Man” #619 is a good comic, and it’s even better when considered as part of this intelligent and fun approach the Spidey offices have taken to delivering the series.
Here, Martin gives us a few cleverly-drawn pages (though nothing quite as astonishing as the double-pager from last issue), and Slott keeps the action bopping from scene to scene. We get flashbacks and quick cuts. I would call it cinematic, but that term is too small-scale for the fast-and-loose narrative of this issue, an issue about supervillain gangland dust-ups with Mysterio pulling the strings.
We get doses of Mr. Negative, Hammerhead, plenty of Silvermane, and a few glimpses of Mysterio, as the man behind the curtain. Martin draws Mysterio as a whirlwind of manipulation, as a conductor of his own evil orchestra. Yes, he still has the fishbowl helmet, but Martin gives him a cartoony menace that’s fun and frightening. He’s messing with Spider-Man’s life from the inside, using characters from his past (and his friends’ past) to keep him off-balance, while playing the thick-headed gangsters off one another.
“Amazing Spider-Man” #619. It won’t teach you any important life lessons or lead you to reconsider the comic book art form, but it will sweep you up into an energetic world of high superheroics and lowlife crime. And it’s pretty to look at, too.