The first “Amazing Spider-Man” Point One issue turned out to be a fairly audacious lead-in to “Venom,” so it’s good to see “Amazing Spider-Man” #679.1 written by Dan Slott and Chris Yost with art by Matthew Clark is more directly positioned to the book’s ongoing plot. With the identity of Horizon Labs’ most mysterious employee (Number Six) revealed during “Spider-Island,” it was only a matter of time until Peter and his colleagues discovered whom they were working with.
The mysterious Number Six is Morbius — a classic Spider-Man villain never fully in the league of nemeses like Kraven, Venom and the various Green Goblins. Over the years, the character has bounced around the Marvel universe occupying various heroic, semi-heroic and anti-heroic niches, so bringing him back into the Spider-fold requires a little bit of a re-focus. Here, Morbius is heavily cast as the tortured scientist using his work to try and cure his condition. He’s portrayed as a reflection of Peter, who uses his scientific skill to aid his super-powered double life.
Given Slott and Yost’s interpretation of Morbius, it’s an appropriate turn of events to see him team up with a classic Spider-villain in the final pages. Where Peter represents the best-case scenario of “powers under control and improving his life,” this foe represents the fate Morbius seeks to avoid where his condition has stripped him of all humanity. Handled correctly, there’s substantial material to mine in the pairing of these characters.
That aside, it’s tough to call this a particularly strong issue of “Amazing Spider-Man.” It’s very much the start of something new and by definition, it’s too early to say how well things are working. Certainly, there’s a lot of potential and as an example of the stories being told under the current status quo, it’s practically textbook (which is presumably why it’s a jumping-on point) but it seems to lack a wow factor.
The pencils by Matthew Clark are a world away from the likes of Humberto Ramos and Stefano Caselli but it’s enjoyable to see a more restrained, classic take on the character following the more expressive and busier look of the regular art teams. It’s straightforward and efficient but there are no major flaws. You can expect to enjoy it, if not in any particularly strong terms.
Ultimately, this issue is a success but only a mild one. When the series is only just coming off the back of one of its best and biggest storylines in years, there’s a sense the same elements it featured so heavily — evil scientists and the employees of Horizon Labs — should perhaps rotate out. To be fair, it’s not enough of a problem to quit the book over but it also can’t help feeling a bit like more of the same.