"Big Time" is doing more than just taking up space on the cover of "Amazing Spider-Man," it's setting up a new status quo for Peter Parker, and, to a lesser degree, Spider-Man. This issue features the return of the Hobgoblin, and throws a few pumpkin bomb surprises our way during the course of the story. Slott magnificently sets up the Hobgoblin as a force to be reckoned with, a threat for Spider-Man in the months to come. Then he turns the whole concept on its ear in a way that genuinely surprised me.
Ramos' art is a strong fit to capture the kinetic energy of Spider-Man and his world. Although his characters and expressions tend to press towards extreme cartoonishness, the body language and acting Ramos portrays through his characters is refreshing and satisfying. Even without the text of the story, it's easy to tell when things are going right or wrong for the characters. Ramos' kinetic drawings occasionally misfire, however, as some panels are packed, or the action doesn't seem quite right, like when Black Cat is kicking a fellow in the face. The way the page is constructed it almost looks as though she's knocking him down with her butt.
Interesting vignettes - or subplots if you will, but they are less subplot than subplot starter - are dropped into this issue as Steve Rogers pays a visit to Mayor Jameson, the new Daily Bugle gets ready to set their virtual presses rolling, and Mac Gargan struggles with some pretty massive separation anxiety. A subplot worth mentioning, and most definitely of interest to Spider-fans, is the growing "Goblin culture" that props up Norman Osborn at its center. It makes for a nice foil to bounce the return of the Hobgoblin off.
This issue of "Amazing" seemed pretty darn beefy to me, as Slott put a lot of story into it. Slott isn't simply spinning new tales here, though. He reaches back through Spider-Man stories to the beginning to play up the history of the character, selecting pieces to play up, around and off of. Slott is definitely writing this series for a more seasoned audience. There are standard Spider-Man one-liners here, but there's also innuendo and more than a lot of violence.
The drive behind this story is to put Spider-Man in a new situation, and Slott is certainly doing that. It's nice to see things looking up for Peter Parker, but given his history and the ol' Spidey luck, it seems like "Big Time" might be setting Spider-Man up for a bigger fall. I certainly hope I'm wrong, as I quite enjoy my heroes not to be completely driven by angst and put upon by misfortune. Where Slott takes it from here certainly remains to be seen, and I'll be tuning in to see.