By: Dan Slott (writer), Humberto Ramos (pencils), Carlos Cuevas, Nikki Damon & Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), Joe Caramanga (letters) & Stephen Wacker (editor)

Marc Gargan back-up: Slott (writer), Neil Edwards (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Morry Hollowell (colors) & Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: A new Spidey-suit makes its debut, as Peter Parker gets ready to take on the new Hobgoblin.

What’s Good: Slott and Ramos are off to such a strong start on their run on ASM.  The days of the rotating Spidey-creators produced a lot of good stories and looking through my notes, the “average grade” for those stories was ~B, but Slott/Ramos have just taken this to another level.  They should be glad that there is no “comic creators’ union” because they would be getting a harsh talking to for making other creators look bad.

The story itself is just fast, well-paced fun.  It starts out with a very well done action sequence with Spidey tangling with the new Hobgoblin, but the middle and latter part of the issue do great stuff with Peter’s supporting cast.  But, the stuff that really stands out to me are the scenes in Peter’s lab at his new job.  I love how Slott is making use of Peter’s science background and these scenes could consist of nothing but Peter spouting some techno-babble while working on some “stuff”.  But, Slott uses MJ and Carlie in a really clever scene that features Peter and Carlie talking WAY over the top of MJ’s head about science stuff.  This is way more effective that any jabbering about flux-capacitors could be.

Oh…and you might have heard…there is a new Spidey-costume.  You can see it on the cover art and if you’ve followed online teasers or message boards, you’ve probably already seen opinions about what/why this costume is here.  My favorite speculation was that it was for some sort of tie-in with the TRON movie.  Ha!  Turns out the costume has a very specific and sensible purpose, although I do wonder how Slott will make this costume go away because if I were Spidey, THIS would be my permanent costume forever.

I hate to say that Ramos is “killing it” on the art, because I think that is such an unimaginative thing to say, but it is really true in this case.  I love his exaggerated cartooning style because it allows him to be freed from the constraints of physics and anatomy in a way that a more realistic artist cannot.  When they draw a character with a leg that is too long it just looks screwed up, but when Ramos does it, it just screams that these characters are alive.  Ramos is truly one of the modern masters at this style (along with Chris Bachalo) and I think this run on ASM is as good as anything I’ve ever seen from him.   He draws a great Spidey, a great Peter Parker, a great Carlie Cooper, a great Black Cat. I kinda feel sorry for the artist on the next arc.  Why can’t Ramos and Bachalo just alternate arcs?

What’s Not So Good: Someone was overinking a little bit in this issue.  I’m not sure who it was, because there were three inkers, but a few of the pages were a little heavy on the ink and that robed the pencils of some of their vitality.  None of the pages look “bad”, mind you.  It’s just that a few don’t look quite as nice as the rest.  That inker probably just isn’t a good match for Ramos.

Also, the back-up story wasn’t bad, but it pales in comparison to the main story.  It does tell an important story about Mac Gargan, but reading after the main story was like having yummy desert first and then eating salad.

Conclusion: Three-for-three.  Slott and Ramos are doing a great job on ASM.  This is a fun story that is well written and moves along at a quick pace and the art is just awesome.  Notice how no one is bitching about the $3.99 price tag on this book?  You can charge that when the book is good.  I should also note that I hate giving A’s to comics and Slot and Ramos have now earned three in a row and are making me reconsider my vote for best ongoing series for 2010.

Grade: A

-Dean Stell