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

Scorpion back-up by : Dan Slott (writer), Stefano Caselli (pencils), Delgado (colors), Caramanga (letters) & Wacker (editor)

The Story: The story arc wraps up as Spidey & Black Cat try to reclaim the reverbium from Kingpin.

What’s Good: Another issue, another really fun Spider-Man story.  The thing I like best about Dan Slott’s writing is the tempo.  These stories just move along as a healthy clip without feeling rushed.  In this initial story arc of his solo-tenure on ASM, Slott has covered a lot of ground: Peter Parker has a new job, new girlfriend, new Hobgoblin and new status quo for Kingpin.  All that in four issues.  Spider-Man is supposed to be a roller coaster, not a scenic tour and Slott gets that.

Another thing he gets is writing single-issue comics.  I am so sick of comics that are “written for the trade” where there is almost no reference to anything in the story that could allow you to place it in time or continuity.  Not Slott (or his editor Wacker).  He makes a very self-aware joke in this issue referencing the new Tron movie.  I can’t tell you how much I love that because thing great thing about Marvel comics is that they aren’t taking place on Earth-4b in fictional cities like Metropolis….they take place in New York City and they should feel like they’re going on right now.  Bravo to you guys!  So what if it seems dated for the trade readers.  I can’t imagine a trade of a title like ASM is that evergreen anyway (meaning I doubt it continues to sell well year after year like Fables or The Walking Dead).

In terms of major plot developments, we have those too.  Interesting new status quo for Kingpin, eh?  I was pretty surprised to see this development happen here and not in the pages of a Daredevil comic.  I also like the new Hobgoblin.  He’s well fleshed out and a lot of fun to read (being a complete smart ass).

Ramos’ art continues to be a great fit for this series.  As much as I enjoy our more realistic artists, I think this exaggerated cartoon style is my favorite for Spider-Man (especially if Black Cat is going to be around).  Ramos’ characters are just so alive!  Every character in every panel feels like they are in motion.  Great stuff.

What’s Not So Good: For my credibility as a reviewer, I am almost glad to be able to find a few minor faults with this issue because I’ve felt really lazy saying “Nothing wrong” for the last three issues.  These are minor quibbles, but still things that struck me…

The story in this issue didn’t gel quite as nicely as the last three.  It was mostly an issue of less-smooth transitions between the scenes while Spidey was fighting Hobgoblin and Black Cat was dealing with Kingpin.  I wish I could verbalize it better, but I think it was simply too many bounces back and forth between the two.  And there were none of those half-finished word balloons that carry over to a narration box on in the next scene.  I think that might have helped, but what do I know.  Or maybe there should have been one fewer bounce back and forth?

I also don’t love Ramos’ Kingpin.  He shouldn’t take that personally, because I don’t think I like anyone’s Kingpin much, but I think Ramos’ strength is with long, lean and angular characters….not fat, blobs of goo.  It’s hard to make a fatty look dynamic, so a panel looks a little funny when all the other characters have all this kinetic energy crackling off them and then there is the fat dude who just doesn’t have the same energy level.  I kinda only buy Kingpin when he is sitting in a chair or standing and looking out the window.

Conclusion: Not as good as the last three issues, but still a damn fine comic book.  Amazing Spider-Man is in outstanding hands because Dan Slott really get’s what Spider-Man is about and what kinds of stories show off this character and his supporting cast.  Incredible art throughout this arc by Humberto Ramos.  I kinda feel sorry for the next artist.  I wouldn’t want to follow this art.

Grade: B+

-Dean Stell