(w) Dan Slott (a) Marcos Martin (c) Muntsa Vicente
For better or worse, Dan Slott has written Amazing Spider-Man, arguably Marvel’s premier title, for the last ten years. For longevity alone, Slott earns a spot in the discussion of greatest Spider-man writers. He has penned issue #600, #700, and #800. He inherited the title after the controversial events of “One More Day,” and despite constant fan consternation (and editorial mandates) he endured to tell the Spider-Man stories he wanted. With his penultimate issue wrapping up the “Go Down Swinging” arc, this final issue sees him reteam with artist Marcos Martin for a stand alone story that might be the finest work of Slott’s tenure.
Amazing Spider-Man #801 is a tribute to the character and everything he represents. The opening page provides a brief recap of Spidey’s origin from Amazing Fantasy #15 before telling a “lost tale” from shortly after his debut. We are introduced to Ken, a man who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, until Spider-man shows up and saves his life. From here on, we no longer follow Spider-man, but Ken as he lives his life. While he may not be saving the world from invading alien forces, Spider-man’s street level efforts are shown have a major, positive impact on those he interacts with.
Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente deserve a lot of credit for crafting such a beautiful comic. There effort results in a world that harkens back to the days of Steve Ditko, but are uniquely modern. The Ditko parallels are easy to spot, especially in the origin recap. However, the action sequence in which Spider-man thwarts a robbery sees Martin further evoke the character’s co-creator. Martin gives Spidey a body-language borders on creepy, twisting and contorting as he confronts the would-be thief.
The art team’s amazing efforts continue as we follow Ken to later in life, where he once again crosses paths with the wall-crawler in another wonderfully coordinated action sequence. This time, it’s Ken helping out as a “thank you” for Spidey’s deed all those years ago. This is where Slott’s writing truly shines. As Ken talks to his initially unimpressed niece, Slott gets to the heart of what Spider-man means to the world. He does not delve into Spider-man’s character, which feels like a missing piece upon reflection, but does not take away from the story. Instead, by keeping the focus on the impact Spider-man has on others, readers are able to connect with the story directly.
Fans of the character no doubt have been similarly impacted. Whether it’s persevering through overwhelming odds, finding comfort during times of sorrow, or feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, Spider-man can serve as a source of inspiration to endure and keep moving forward. This is the core message of Amazing Spider-Man #801, a profound take from a writer not known for his deep messaging. That’s because, in the end, Spider-man means a lot to Slott as well. As he has often stated, he’s just as much a fan of the character as he is a writer. The issue’s final page sees Spider-man swinging off to his next big adventure, while graffiti on a nearby water tower states simply “Slott was here.” Yes he was, and it was a hell of a ride.