Given the consistency that “Amazing Spider-Man” showed under a team of rotating writers, it’s rather strange to see that during Dan Slott’s time as solo writer, the quality of the book has been up and down like a yo-yo. “Nobody Dies” was a fantastic two-parter. This Future Foundation arc… not so much.
It’s likely that were this an issue of “FF,” it would have been easier to enjoy, but as a Spider-Man story it lacked all the elements you buy the title for, and appears to have relegated Peter to the status of supporting character in his own book. The lightly comic instances of warping realities and power-switching made for some nice moments, but they’re moments that belong in the Fantastic Four’s book, not Spider-Man’s. For these two issues, it feels like we’ve been reading the former, not the latter.
Between them, Slott and Fred Van Lente also make some odd decisions with the cast. Leaving aside the painfully out-of-character scene last issue, where Peter acted deliberately insensitively and upset everyone around him, this issue contains some of the most cringeworthy character moments for some time, not least the moment where Peter reacts to Carlie’s new tattoo.
Indeed, speaking of Carlie, she appears to have undergone a complete character revision under Slott’s stewardship, and that’s made all the more obvious here in her choice of tattoo and her reasoning behind it. She was never the most well-defined character, but it’s increasingly impossible to predict or understand her actions, and that suggests a character whose role is being driven by the story, rather than vice versa. Even more damningly, there’s still less chemistry when she’s around for entire issues than when Mary Jane makes a single appearance. For someone who’s supposed to be the book’s main love interest, that’s a problem.
The issue also brings the Ghost Rider team-up to a close, and it’s an enjoyable enough trail for the forthcoming “Ghost Rider” series. As a single issue, it would have been a little too light on story and plot, but as a backup it’s been an enjoyable break. The technique of trailing one book in another is rarely welcome, but if you’re a fan of the character, it’s easily digested, as here.
The package itself isn’t awful, even if it feels like a below average issue of the title. It’s hard to argue with getting three different stories advanced in one hit. It’s just a shame that the lead feature feels more like an unwelcome diversion than a proper Spider-Man story. Let’s hope the token interaction with the FF can now be considered fulfilled, and that the book can return to more conventional Spidey stories.