By: Dan Slott & Marcos Martin (storytellers), Muntsa Vicente (colors), Joe Caramanga (letters), Ellie Pyle (assistant editor) & Stephen Wacker (senior editor)

The Story: Spidey struggles with the loss of his Spider-Sense as he tries to hold true to his new “nobody dies” creed.

What’s Good: Here’s a newsflash: Marcos Martin is a really gifted graphic storyteller.  I greatly appreciate the freshness of his page layouts and panel designs because he almost never has a page that is just a boring grid, yet he mixes is up without doing weirdly shaped panels.  Pretty much everything is a rectangle/square, but they are all sorts of different shapes and sizes… some have panel borders, some don’t, some have backgrounds, some don’t.  And even with all this interesting design going on, every page looks visually balanced.  It really makes the comic look different and if you read a lot of comics, you really appreciate some variety!  Of course, Martin’s Ditko inspired linework is pretty darn impeccable too.

One of the fun themes of Slott’s run on ASM so far has been Peter’s new job at Horizon Labs.  Basically, this has given him the resources to craft some new Spidey-gadgets.  A few issues ago we saw the Stealth Suit that allowed him to be invisible and resist the new Hobgoblin’s laugh, and in this issue we get yet another Spidey-suit.  It is very compelling that the creators are actively using Peter’s science background for something greater than simply mixing up web fluid.

The other item that really catches your eye in this issue is the continued evolution of J. Jonah Jameson’s grief over his wife’s death.  In the stellar issue #655, we saw normal grief, but here Jonah molds that grief into an action item, namely that he want to kill any murderers in NYC.  That goes for Alistair Smythe (death penalty) and it also goes for the new bad guy in this issue: The Walking Massacre.  Certainly you can imagine how Jonah’s new “shoot to kill” orders are going to run afoul of Spidey’s “nobody dies”.

What’s Not So Good: While I do like the concept for the new suit, I don’t like the visual design.  It is very black and graphite-looking and (IMHO) doesn’t do much to show off Martin’s art.  Actually, the black suit really covers up Martin’s lines in many scenes.  That is a bad thing!  Why can’t the new suit just have the same color scheme as the classic suit?

There are a few story elements that I didn’t love quite as much.  All Spidey-fans understand that Peter is a man of moral absolutes.  He is a guy who knows right and wrong and is not someone who will ever accept that small wrongs may serve the greater good.  When he adopted his new “nobody dies” creed, everyone understood immediately what the problem would be with that: What about the bad guys?  For me personally, it may have worked better if the story where Peter had to save the bad guy’s life was allowed to bake for another 4-5 issues, because it just seems rushed to get this seeming climax to this story line a mere two weeks after it kicked off.

I also kinda miss the Peter Parker love-life storyline.  Granted, we are in the middle of story line that deals with death, but the women in Peter’s life are such a huge part of the overall Spidey-story that I miss them when they aren’t around.

Conclusion: Even with a few quibbles on the story, this is another strong performance on Slott’s run on ASM.  If you aren’t reading ASM, you really need to stop what you’re doing and go pick up these issues NOW and catch up because, 9 issues in, it is shaping up to be a historic run on the title.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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