By: Dan Slott (writer), Marcos Martin, Ty Templeton, Nuno Plati & Stefano Caselli (art), Muntsa Vicente, Javier Rodriguez, Plati & Marte Gracia (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters), Ellie Pyle (assistant editor) & Stephen Wacker (editor)

The Story: Spidey and the FF give the Human Torch a proper send off by recalling a lot of the good times.

What’s good: How about that?  Given how good Fantastic Four #588 was in its send off of the Human Torch, it is pretty amazing that an issue of Amazing Spider-Man would be an even better send-off, but that is exactly what happens in this issue.

The premise of the issue is pretty simple: Spidey swings by the Baxter Building to apologize for missing Torch’s funeral service.  What ensues is a recollection of some of the great times that Spidey and Torch have had over the years.  Of course, there is some legitimate villain-busting in the stories, but most of the fun comes from the fun moments where Spidey & Torch are camping and playing tricks on each other, or where Spidey is pulling Torch’s pants down in front of teenage admirers or where the Spidey & Torch inspire Sue Storm to embrace her juvenile side (who knew she had such a side?) and take down villains in a very creative way that ends with Sue having some trouble with the law.

There really isn’t much more to say about the story, because it isn’t complicated, but it is incredibly well executed and you’ll laugh-out-loud 5-6 times in this issue.  Slott and company really captured the FUN side of Human Torch in a way that Hickman & Dragotta didn’t in their very strong FF #588.

The art is surprisingly strong too.  Granted, all of the artists on this issue are no-joke artists, but I always kinda cringe when I flip two pages into a comic and see 4 artists credited.  But, if you are going to have multiple artists, THIS is how to do it: by letting each artist/colorist team take one of the flashback stories.  That way even though the art changes, it doesn’t really bug you and it doesn’t screw up any of the artists by forcing them to try to conform to a generic style.  This issue is more like an anthology with a “tour guide” taking us from story to story.

What’s Not So Good: The only thing I don’t love about this issue is something that isn’t remotely Slott & Co.’s fault: I’m now sure I want to see Spidey joining the FF.

I mean, the guy is pretty overexposed as it is.  He’s in both Avengers and New Avengers.  He’s in Amazing Spider-Man.  He’s in the current arc of X-Men.  And, I’m sure he’ll be showing up in the new Moon Knight, Punisher and Daredevil stories this summer.  That’s just too much Spider-Man and smearing him around that much can threaten one of the GREAT things about ASM: That it is a great title to suggest to someone looking to get into comics because it doesn’t require the reader to follow other titles.

I’d just urge Marvel editorial not to succumb to “If one is good, two must be better and THREE would be GREAT!” thinking.  You’ve got a good thing going right now with ASM.  Don’t screw it up and let’s not let fans of other Marvel series get their Spidey fix via guest-starring roles: Make them buy the outstanding Slott ASM!

Conclusion: Great issue.  If you can believe it, this is a better Human Torch send off than we got in Fantastic Four.  Slott has a pretty mean streak going on ASM so far too as the “worst” issue has still been B+ material.

Grade: A

-Dean Stell

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