Friday, May 4, 2012

Comic Review -- Amazing Spider-Man #684: The Ends of the Earth, part III: Sand Trap / Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado

Spidey's trials and tribulations just never seem to end, for him and his allies in this case.  This cover shot of him, Black Widow and Silver Sable all caught up in a titanic fight with a desert-powered Sandman really drives that point home and pulls readers in for this issue's story.  The colors here are great, the action is intense, and Black Widow continues to do an excellent impression of Felicia Hardy by leaving her cleavage exposed by black leather.  She'll definitely need a shower later.  At the very least, I'm amused.

Spidey and the Avengers have just been defeated by the Sinister Six in a stunning turnabout.  Silver Sable, who has tailed Spider-Man this far, rescues Black Widow from the downed Quinjet and sets an explosive charge on it.  She uses the distraction caused by its destruction to mask herself, Spider-Man and Black Widow before Doctor Octopus can destroy Spider-Man.  The Sinister Six leave, with the rest of the Avengers in tow, leaving the three heroes to rely on each other to undo Ock's evil plan.

Locating a production facility for Ock's satellites, Spidey uses the down time for their travel, the collective genius of the workers at Horizon Labs, and a little of his own ingenuity to combat the likely threat there: Sandman.  When they find him there, Spidey and his teammates manage to defeat him using the improvised tech he's come up with, and take Sandman off the playing field.  But Ock has already planned for this, and uses his bully pulpit on the world stage to deem Spider-Man a terrorist and demand the nations of the world take him down at any cost!

One thing that I'm glad never changes during these Sinister Six storylines is that Spider-Man always, always needs help from other superheroes to defeat Doctor Octopus and his allies.  Thus far, the escalation between him and Ock has evolved in a believable manner over the years, with Spidey's new tech and Ock's meticulous planning heightening the stakes for each.  That Spidey is also relying on his civilian colleagues at Horizon Labs as well as Black Widow and Silver Sable shows that the game has changed between these two, and that firepower of all types is needed: stealth, brains, brawn, and ingenuity.  It all makes for a story that is both intriguing and amusing, in places.

I mean, come on: Project Pink Hippo?  It's both ingenious and over-the-top cheesy.  In other words, vintage Spidey.  And to whoever created Grady Scraps: kudos.  I really like his character.

Artistically, I continue to enjoy Humberto Ramos's pencil work for this series.  While his characters tend to have slightly bigger eyes than I'd prefer, you can't argue that it makes plenty of room for expressions, which he uses deftly in conveying the story visually.  I also find myself gradually warming to the new costume for this storyline, but I also find myself fretting that it'll soon be discarded once this story is over.  The fight with Sandman was appropriately epic, and, once we see the strategy they employ, quite amusing as Sandman gets manipulated.  Excellent work.

Overall, this was a fun issue.  It had plenty of action, an amusing premise for taking down Sandman, great artwork, and plenty of spot-on dialog for the main characters.  I'm enjoying the story very much, and waiting eagerly for the next part of the story.  Highly recommended.

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