Amazing Spider-Man #657

This book has been absolutely (pardon the pun) on fire lately. Spidey has always been near and dear to me since Mom first brought home those coverless wonders with the groceries. My older brother never cared for comics, but I think somewhere deep down inside, Mom was (and maybe still is) a comic book fan; She just can't quite figure out how to embrace it. At any rate, she'd always nab a Spider-Man comic and bring it home for me. Years later, I'd buy my own, and more often than not, those issues took the form of "Marvel Team-Up." Sure, "Team-Up" would pull in segments from other issues, series, or both, but the stories always electrified me.

That's the same vibe I get with Slott's run on "Amazing." Dan Slott writes the Spider-Man that the nine-year-old me loved and, conveniently enough, the thirty-nine-year-old me still loves. Slott's Spider-Man is a character that still rings true of the everyman, and in this issue, that everyman realizes that sometimes there's just a little too much sadness in life and that it's best to seek the comfort of friends in those times. The friends he seeks out in this issue are Sue, Reed, and Ben - the remnants of the Fantastic Four. Those of you plugged in to the Marvel Universe know where the story goes from here, but those of you reading only "Amazing" are in for a treat as Pete sits down for some reminiscing with some of his oldest and dearest friends. A friend of mine is fond of the saying, "Friends are the family you chose," and in this case, that rings true.

Although this issue could be easily dismissed for lack of a big bad, national (or galactic) crisis, or installment in the latest crossover, it is an issue that shouldn't be missed. Each of the artists are given a chance to stroll down memory lane with the core members of the new FF, and each one brings a slightly different flavor to the story. Martin provides the set-up and wrap-up to this issue, and does a beautiful job in doing so, recalling the Silver Age as only he can do, but wrapping it in modern sensibilities. Templeton's art is more light-hearted, but still well-suited for a tale of mischief led by Pete and Johnny. Plati's art features elongated figures that, at first blush, seem much too stylized and cartoony, but still brings life to Slott's story. Caselli dials up the splendor in the third installment, a story that takes Spider-Man into space alongside Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch.

"Amazing Spider-Man" continues to be an enjoyable read, each and every issue. Slott and crew are doing a marvelous job with this book, and I look forward to more. Slott recognizes that Spidey is one of the most versatile characters in the Marvel Universe and presses that to our advantage. This issue, like much of this run, is fun, emotional, and memorable, worthy of reading, re-reading, and sharing.

I'm not very generous with the five-star reviews. Once upon a time, I was questioned about them. I replied that I save five-stars for my personal favorites and the best of the best: the books I just know I'm going to read again, lend to friends, and probably buy again if those friends forget to return them. I'm thinking Mom's going to get this issue.

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