By: Dan Slott (writer), Humberto Ramos (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters), Ellie Pyle (assistant editor) & Stephen Wacker (editor)

The Story: Spider-Island really get’s moving as the good guys start to actually try to solve the problem.

What’s Good: I was a little hard on Amazing Spider-Man #667 a few weeks ago, so I was very pleasantly surprised by this issue.  Everything in this issue is more purposeful; every couple of pages we are given a new little scene that had a real point in developing the story.  It has a little bit of everything: nice use of the Avengers in supporting roles, good use of the normally annoying Anti-Venom character, a nice guest-starring role for Reed Richards, more playing with the mystery scientist at Horizon Labs, well-done Carlie-Peter relationship stuff and the joy of watching Peter get to bounce around NYC with his spider-powers now that everyone else has powers too.

That last bit is probably the most fun bit of this issue.  Sure, we’ve seen little snippets of Peter letting his powers peek through in civilian guise (“Wow!  Who knew puny Parker was such a good baseball player?!?!”), but here he can just cut loose and go swinging around town since everyone thinks he’s caught up in the Spider-Island contagion too.  For once, he isn’t having to tell his loved ones lies and can actually go web-swinging with his girlfriend Carlie.  Last issue, I was pretty convinced that the Peter/Carlie relationship was doomed, but now I’m not so sure.  I just love that Slott is really emphasizing that aspect of Peter’s persona because (to me), it just isn’t Spider-Man without the romance/relationship angle.

The art is also trademark Humberto Ramos stuff.  His art is very much cartoony and stylized, and that’s where he get’s the incredible energy that he imparts on his characters.  To me the key with Ramos is when you look at a panel or page, your first reaction needs to be “Wow!  These characters really look dynamic!” versus “Wow!  That isn’t what mouths look like!”  I’m not objectively sure why this issue was such a home run for me whereas last issue had a few panels that fell into the latter category, but this issue rocks: All the panels have energy, great variety in layouts, a few panels with ~20 dynamic characters crammed in….  Maybe the difference is the change in inkers?  Except that the inker of #667 was Carlos Cuevas who has inked Ramos so well in the past….  Anyway, it is really pretty.

What’s Not So Good: No substantial complaints.  I still don’t love Jackal as the villain because he drags along so much clone baggage and clones are easily the worst thing ever about Spider-Man comics.  I just worry every time we see him that we’re going to end up with some Ben Reilly nonsense again.  Fortunately, there is clearly a mysterious villain (or villainess?) lurking in the shadows who seems to be the real puppetmaster, and that is infinitely more interesting than stupid Jackal.

Conclusion: Slott and Ramos nail it.  With the excellence of this issue, I suddenly don’t feel so upset about having all 28 issue of Spider-Island on my pull list.  Fun story and great art.  This is what I expected coming into the story and after a bit of a disappointing opening, we’re back on track.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell

[Note: Art fans should really be checking out Spider-Island.  The art is just an embarrassment of riches: Humberto Ramos on ASM, Emma Rios on Cloak & Dagger, Pepe Larraz on Spider-Girl, Tom Fowler on Venom & Max Fiumara on Hands of Kung-Fu.  I see this and wonder why “my” X-books are often saddled with such pedestrian artists.  Maybe the X-office isn’t artist friendly????]

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