Written by Dan Slott
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Welcome back to the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews! We've got some quality books on deck, so let's get directly to those reviews, shall we? Hit the jump to read my thoughts some of the books that came out this past week, including Amazing Spider-Man #666, Captain America & Bucky #620, and more!
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Stefano Caselli
Billed as the prelude to Spider Island, Amazing Spider-Man #666 does not disappoint. This issue is filled to the brim with story, touching on virtually every single aspect of Spider-Man relevant to Slott's current run. Which, considering everything that's happened thus far and all the teams that Spidey is a member of, means there is a lot of jumping around throughout the issue. However, despite moving quickly through the many characters, situations, and plot points, everything reads incredibly naturally. A testament to Slott's writing abilities, this also has the added benefit of making the issue a pretty good jumping-on point for new readers, providing almost all the information you need to understand what's going on. Fortunately, it also reads just as well for people who have been following the entire run up until this point.
Slott is in top form throughout, spending as much time on every moment as is required. It feels like everything that happens in this issue is happening for a reason. There are few, if any, wasted moments within the entire comic. Pretty much every character that is currently linked to Spider-Man makes an appearance in one way or another, but Slott takes the time to provide the necessary explanations to make it feel genuine, instead of like a constant parade of cameos, which is what the entire exercise could have felt like. He crams in tons of fun, interesting, and important character moments in a way that makes sense and flows extremely well.
On the art side of things, Stefan Caselli is also bringing his A-game. With all the different moments and characters showing up, Caselli has ample opportunity to flex his artistic muscles, and he more than rises to the occasion. This is perhaps the best looking Spider-Man book I've read in a good long while, with Caselli depicting exciting action scenes, quieter character moments, and everything in between with seeming ease. Even though he only shows up for three panels, I would like to take a moment to rave about his J. Jonah Jameson. Those three panels of frustration for Jonah are fantastic and are but one example of Caselli's great work.
Verdict - Buy It. In my mind, Dan Slott's run on Amazing Spider-Man is what Spider-Man comics should strive to be: exciting, accessible, and fun as all get out. As I said at the beginning, I've enjoyed virtually every issue in this run, but the most impressive thing about Slott's work is that it just seems to get better and better. This issue is no exception, and it somehow is making me more excited for the coming storyline. Although I've enjoyed all the artists Slott has collaborated with, I must admit to being happy to see Caselli working on this arc, because, in the same way that Slott seems to "get" how a Spider-Man book should read, Caselli definitely "gets" how a Spider-Man book should look.
This issue opens with the group attempting to escape from the prison, and it's a doozy. Snyder builds on everything he's presented before, providing twists to the plot that make complete sense and yet still took me by surprise. Additionally, the tensions between Sweet and the Vassals plays out quite nicely, with Snyder taking plenty of opportunities to play with the fact that they are temporary allies in their quest for freedom. Things go from bad to worse and the cliffhanger on the last page is the highlight of the issue. Snyder plays off reader expectations throughout the comic, often throwing curveballs when the reader least expects it.
Despite everything Snyder accomplishes this issue, I'm tempted to say that Albuquerque is the one who steals the show. His style has been constantly evolving throughout the series, changing to match the needs of the story, and what he's done for this storyline has been unbelievably good. He has an impeccable mixture between realism and horror that begs to be framed and put up on a wall. Every panel is filled with mood and emotion. His work is especially strong towards the end, as he moves quickly between intense calm and frenetic action with ease.
Speaking of convincing, I was quite impressed by Brubaker and Andreyko's attention to detail in the setting and time period. It's not exactly surprising that creators of their calibre would be so capable, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless. The backdrop of World War 2 is obviously very important to both Captain America and to Bucky, and it is well used throughout the story. The "black market" Bucky runs for his brothers in arms, the town dance he attends, and the newsreels he watches all add to the atmosphere, but they also help build the setting and develop the characters. You get the sense that the events taking place on these pages could only happen on the eve of America's entry into the Second World War.
A large part of the book's success in evoking these past moments is due to Chris Samnee's brilliant drawings. As I mentioned above, I loved his work with Roger Langridge on Thor, but that book was quite lighthearted and I wasn't sure how his art would translate to a more serious comic. Suffice it to say that the translation was a complete success. It's perhaps a little hard to explain, but Samnee has always struck me as having a classic or timeless quality to his drawings, and that works very well for this tale set firmly in the lead-up to World War 2. It is evocative of the style of the Golden Age of comics without being beholden to it. Although he has no difficulty with the fights and moments of action throughout the issue, I would like to emphasize his expression work. The faces seen throughout the comic convey a wide-range of emotion and meaning that adds a ton to the Brubaker and Andreyko's script.
Verdict - Buy it.