The Amazing Spider-Man #801 (Marvel Comics)
Runners Up: Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 (Marvel Comics), X-Men Gold #30 (Marvel Comics)
What a week.
I’ll let you in on a bit of my process. When I read each week’s books, I organize by publisher and the amount of books being reviewed from each, starting with the lower numbers. This almost always leaves Marvel and DC at the end of the process, and helps me keep an eye on the vast continuity of both publishers. A lot came out this week, and I thought I had a few picks before I even got to Marvel. Books like Batman, Shadow Man and Future Quest Presents all had issues that, on another week, could well have taken the top spot. However, Marvel really presented their best stuff and I couldn’t help but give them the sweep.
Dan Slott ends his decade long run on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man #801, and he is joined by the magnificent Marcos Martin. Though #800 was a near perfect book, and provided a due wrap up to Slott’s run, he had one more thing to say. This farewell issue is a simple story, loaded with emotion. Frank Miller has championed stripping down characters to find what’s at their core and, intentionally or not, Slott truly does this here. Beginning to explain the plot would only lessen its impact, so I’ll describe the tone.
For most of his run, Slott has focused more on good storytelling than philosophy. Sure, you’ll get a touch of it here or there, but part of his strength was showing the audience instead of directly addressing it. As anyone who has studied fiction knows “show, don’t tell” is the golden rule of putting pen to paper. Here, the veteran writer finds a character to take on his voice and, with some choice words, truly gets to the core of Spider-Man’s role in the Marvel Universe. Rarely do I tear up while reading a comic, but this shift in tone was so quick and so appropriate that it reminded me why I’ve spent the majority of my life reading comics. Be sure to check out the afterward as well, you’re just going to like the team more.
Tony Stark: Iron Man launches with Valerio Schiti on art and Dan Slott on plots and scripts. As I mentioned earlier, Slott typically has a laser-focus on his action packed stories and here he goes back to what he’s known for. The new title takes the best of Stark’s film persona and seamlessly integrates it into his comic book past. Over the years, I’ve grown a bit uncomfortable with the snarky and arrogant Stark that the films have popularized, but Slott proves that with a little touch, the persona can be as fun as ever. There is also a distinct effort to make the comic bigger than the movies, which I think is one of the smartest choices made. Schiti proves to be the perfect artist for the grandiose vision of Iron Man and has already piqued my interest in what cool designs we’ll see in later issues. By the end of the issue, which is almost a one-and-done, the creative team have made it clear that, not unlike his Space Race origins, Iron Man’s new ethos is one of unlimited possibilities.
Marvel gets their third home run with X-Men Gold #30, brought to us by Marc Guggenheim and David Marquez.
First off, yes, I did accidentally read the spoilers.
Second, no, it didn’t ruin the book.
Guggenheim has a knack for capturing the emotional centers of the mighty mutants, and an issue that could have been downright boring ends up being one of my favorite single issues of X-Men. Marquez provides some classic imagery, both for the characters’ modern incarnations and in some flashbacks. For your sake, I hope you haven’t read spoilers, because Marvel truly dropped the ball in revealing the book’s conclusion. With this book ending in September, I hope Guggenheim gets a shot at whatever is next for The X-Men, and boy do I hope they get “Uncanny” in that title somewhere.
P.S. You should totally listen to Cher and Peter Cetera’s After All while reading X-Men Gold.