The final round between Spider-Man and his amazing friends and the Queen comes down to this issue with a promised epilogue in the next issue. Of course there’s a handful of “Spider-Island” tie in books also hitting the racks this week, but the main action — believe it or not — happens right here.
Dan Slott’s first solo adventure into the great big world of Spider-centric events (“Big Time” wasn’t quite a full-fledged event, my nitpicking friends) puts a whole lot of action and a high demand for trimming loose ends into this issue. The Queen squares off with Steve Rogers, Peter Parker has a team-up with Kaine, MJ goes webslinging (in a miniskirt?!), and the “Anti-Venom antidote” is pressed into action through unorthodox (but not overly surprising) means. Slott jams a lot into this issue and manages to have fun with it, but overall it feels like damage control more than story advancement.
Humberto Ramos (with inking duo of Victor Olazaba and Karl Kesel) sees the conclusion of this story through, having drawn the six main installments. This issue, like the previous, sees a downward shift in quality and technique from Ramos, as his characters trend more towards “caricature” than “character.” The pages are still brimming with the same manic energy Ramos pours into his work, but the lines are sketchier, and some of the compositions are less dynamic. Small panels are not Ramos’ forte, and to have so much action occur in as many as eleven panels on one page forces a lot of the action to be deciphered through the dialog, which in turn overburdens some already fit-to-burst pages. This issue provides some damning evidence in the possible effects of working in the “Marvel Style.”
So there’s a pile of cleanup that needs to happen, but this issue spends no time there. This issue unravels the web of wackiness surrounding the Spider-powered people of Manhattan and Spider-Man’s desperate pitch to set everything right. It’s been a crazy ride, one that didn’t hit all the right notes for me, but still managed to tell a story that gave everyone a chance to see Spider-Man as more than just a wisecracking, wall-crawling Webhead. Spider-Man gets to be the hero in his own book, and that makes this gangly, sprawling adventure worthwhile.