Spider-Men #5

With the official end of summer rolling into the United States later this week, it's only appropriate that "Spider-Men" #5 wraps up what has been a wonderful summer comic. Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli conclude the series with the same verve they brought to "Spider-Men" #1. Granted, we've now had five issues to grow accustomed and slightly jaded to the concept of these two Spider-Men meeting, but this issue still provides some fresh fun.

Jimmy Cheung has been drawn some great covers for the series, but Pichelli has been matching Cheung's effort panel for panel inside. The two artists share a similar enough sense of character movement and anatomy combined with a sharp knack for detail that they blend nicely together, cover to pages. Inside the book, although Justin Ponsor has thoroughly drenched the pages in purple tones due to Mysterio's role in this adventure, Pichelli layers in details like the cushiness of the quilted material in Mysterio's costume. Her work is clean and crisp enough to accommodate the coloring details and patterns Ponsor layers into the action and backgrounds, like floor tiling and texture of the two different Spider-Man costumes. Cory Petit rounds out the visual team with telltale lettering that factors into distinguishing which universe the characters are in. This fifth issue is every bit as visually compelling as the four leading up to it, making the entire "Spider-Men" series a consistently beautiful visual spectacle.

The story itself looks like it's going to wrap up early, as Mysterio, like all over-confident villains, decides to peek in on his victims one last time. Curiosity kills the cat, but Spider-Man webs the villain. That simple twist expands the story to fill the issue, giving Bendis one last chance to have both Spideys express some influence to one another. The pair part as friends with a deep unspoken connection and I'm left hoping we see the duo team up again, perhaps as part of a regular summertime event. Add to that the fact that Bendis provides a whole new dimension to Mysterio (pun intended) and transforms the villain into an opponent worthy of serious consideration and there truly are very few flaws to be found in this issue and, by extension, the series. I'll admit, I'm not pleased with Peter Parker's compliance at the end of the issue, but Bendis hints that the end of this story might not really be the end in the final scene of "Spider-Men" #5 that is every bit as impactful and fist-pumpingly awesome as a post-credits scene from a Marvel feature film.

I can only imagine the feeling that went through comic book fans lucky enough to have read the first-ever crossover between Barry Allen and Jay Garrick, and I think it would feel rather like I felt reading this issue. Granted, I'm a different age bracket than most of those fans were in the day, but the excitement of seemingly limitless -- yet immediately comfortable -- possibilities make this book an instant classic.

While Marvel is still not giving us a title worthy of the classic "Marvel Team-Up" brand, at least we have this celebration of heroic awesomeness. This series was well-paced and fun without being dismissible or irrelevant and the final issue is complete and encapsulates that vibe quite nicely. If you're not one to jump onto a series with the final issue and backtrack, make note of the release date for the collection and start saving now. You'll be glad you did when you kick back and enjoy a fun, self-contained, summertime event book on those crisp, cool autumn evenings coming up.

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