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: After the smack-down that Spider-Man and the Avengers received from the Sinister Six, can anyone save the day?

Recap/Review: The first few issues of this Ends of the Earth mini-event had been just sort of “blah”.  Not bad, but also not the strongest work that has come from Dan Slott’s run on the title either.  The story just wasn’t all that compelling as Spidey and the Avengers were taking on the Sinister Six to stop Doc Ock’s (possibly) nefarious schemes.  So, the anticipation for this issue was a lot lower….as in “toward the bottom of the weekly pile” lower.

But….what is that name we see on the cover?  Ramos?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?

A number of factors make this a much stronger issue, but none is bigger that the presence of the Humberto Ramos/Victor Olazaba team on linework and Edgar Delgado on colors.  It’s cliche for a reviewer to point out that comics are a visual medium, but it’s a fact.  If you are a comic reader who deeply cares about art and the art in a comic isn’t working for you, there is a limit to how good that issue can be.  And, if you’re a reviewer who is losing interest in superhero comics, “pretty good” or “solid” art isn’t going to maintain your interest.  In fact, the difference with this issue exposes how silly it is for Marvel to focus so much attention on writers.  The majority of writers are completely fungible whereas top-shelf artistic talents like Ramos and Delgado are not.

Compared to last issue, just getting Ramos’ more expressive and cartoony characters made a huge difference.  This issue feels light and bouncy and that’s how a Spider-Man story should feel 99% of the time.  Even when Spidey is fighting to save the world, he usually doesn’t lose his chipper spirit.  That’s why we love him.  And the art needs to always echo that mood.

The “story” takes a turn for the better too.  Last issue’s fight between the Avengers and the Sinister Six was just so much unnecessary noise.  We readers know that there is no way that any of Spider-Man or any of the Avengers is in any sort of mortal peril.  We just KNOW it.  So, don’t insult our intelligence by wasting an issue showing us just how tough the new and improved Sinister Six is.  Maybe the story requires the Avengers receiving a beat-down for the sake of drama OR perhaps they’re all just pretending to be KO’d as part of a big plan, but I’d hope that Slott is more clever than having a villain beat up a hero just to establish their power-level.  Needless to say, watching Spidey undertake a more stealthy mission while teamed up with two attractive lady heroes is MUCH more in keeping with the overall theme of Spider-Man comics.  Especially when there is a possible romance angle hanging in the air with one of them.

And the clever way that the gang took down Sandman….. awesome.

Conclusion: The story makes a LOT more sense than the last several issues and the addition of Ramos on art turns a “meh” book into something that is very good.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell