THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 – REVIEW
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
Inks & Colors: Wade von Grawbadger & Marte Gracia
Release date: March 7, 2018
This issue kicks off a story arc that leads into the landmark 800th issue. This issue also begins writer Dan Slott’s final story arc on Amazing Spider-Man. Slott has been writing Spider-Man for over a decade, starting with the series during the “Brand New Day” changes. The acknowledgment of those changes, where people no longer knew Spider-Man’s identify and Peter and Mary Jane were no longer together, is not lost on Slott. This issue masterfully plays with those dynamics and sets Peter Parker and Norman Osborn on a collision course for issue 800.
Slott and artist Stuart Immonen wonderfully capture Norman Osborn’s eerie and foreboding presence in the opening panels of this issue. Osborn’s body language and mannerisms portray his twisted psyche. Osborn’s new bond with the Carnage symbiote is portrayed through menacing silhouettes and the results are more effective than depicting the symbiote outright. The shadows, lighting, and colors of von Grawbadger and Gracia are excellent and strike a powerful and artistic tone across the entire issue.
Immonen’s depiction of Peter and Mary Jane wrestling with their feelings is both raw and human. These are two characters that have come in and out of each other’s lives since the “Brand New Day” and yet both acknowledge emotional limitations of moving forward. These are characters separated by ten years of emotional storylines that Slott wove and in one silent, wordless panel Immonen captures that emotional impasse perfectly.
For a storyline rich in emotional weight and baggage, Slott still retains some of the classic Spider-Man humor during an exchange with a frequent purse snatcher who reminds Spider-Man of his rotator cuff injury while hanging by a web. This balance of whimsy and sobering plot points demonstrates Slott’s comfort and command of the characters in Spider-Man’s world. Slott uses part of this issue to set the stage for this final arc and introduces readers to all the characters in Parker and Osborn’s orbit. While this works as a way for lapsed readers and fans to quickly catch up, these interactions are staged in a way that builds tension around Osborn. Slott saves a final twist for the last few pages and it instantly changes the landscape for this final arc.
The artwork is amazing. The story setup is spectacular. Slott and Immonen make the case that Spider-fans of any generation should pick up this book and hang on for the final ride from this creative team.