Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #657 review


The Human Torch is dead (I know, it's been weeks) and the Amazing Spider-Man commemorates Peter Parker's longstanding friendship with Johnny Storm by giving us three light-hearted untold tales centred on the pair. The memories are relayed by Ben Grimm, Sue Richards and Reed Richards as Peter drops by the Baxter Building to offer his condolences. 

There's the FF and Spidey having fun on a camping trip necessitated by a monster's demise; Sue, Johnny and Peter tackling - and I mean, tackling - the Frightful Four; and Reed, Johnny and Peter dealing with car trouble in space. It's sprightly, amusing fare from writer Dan Slott, typically clever and endearing, and drawn by three talented artists - Ty Templeton, Nunu Plati and Stefano Caselli. My favourite sees Sue Storm take a leaf out of Spider-Man's book, with, as they say, hilarious consequences. 

All three shorts are character pieces, showing how Spidey and the FF relax around one another, why Peter really can be considered a member of the family. This is even more evident in the framing sequence, drawn by the magnificent Marcos Martin, and it's here that Slott brings out the emotional big gun. It's not like I couldn't see exactly where we were heading, but the final page had the fanboy tears welling up; it's perfect.

From the first page, with a cute homage to the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1, to the tearjerker finale, this is a splendid comic book. It not only demonstrates why Johnny and Peter would be friends, it shows us why Spidey would be welcomed into the Fantastic Four in the Human Torch's stead - he's a  prankster like Johnny, loves family like Sue, is a genius like Reed and an everyman like Ben. 

The only off-note is the revelation that Peter never attended Johnny's funeral; supposedly he just couldn't face it. I couldn't accept that assertion before reading the three stories here. Afterwards, even less so.

Still, Spidey and FF fans alike will find lots to enjoy in Torch Song (wot, no 'Trilogy'?). There's a sparkling story, eye-popping art, cathartic sadness and a beautifully conceived and executed cover by Martin. If this doesn't get a good showing on the end-of-year lists for Best Single Issue, I'll be amazed.


8 comments:

  1. Great review! Really looking forward to getting this later today. Slott has really been writing great stories, and I can't agree more Peter belongs on the FF.

    I have to say though, I'm not entirely surprised that Peter wouldn't attend the funeral. His character has been show as unable to deal with loss... the way he was motivated by losing his uncle, or how he just couldn't lose aunt May (thinking back to "One More Day"), or even the last story arc... I think his character has been shown as having matured past that point occasionally, but in the past few years it seems he has regressed.

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  2. The Human Torch and Spider-Man were very much the original "frenemies," weren't they? I can remember at least one person in my own life who annoyed the heck out of me, whom I learned to like and be friends with. Johnny and Spidey were quite the same way, and even though Stan often wrote them as barely able to stand each other, I always thought that deep down they'd grow into a genuine fondness. I'm giving this the flip-through this afternoon; thanks for the review.

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  3. I read this just hours earlier, in my room at night. I actually got it at lunch break from work, but felt that reading it in the office on a sunny afternoon wouldn't match the setting of the story.

    Yeah, it got my waterworks running with the last sequence of panels, in a way the capstone to the first new panels of FF #1. I was glad that here, I got to see Johnny's face on holo one last time, rather than having his back turned to the reader at FF #1. Truly, truly, an outstanding piece of work.

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  4. This was a terrific story; I've been really impressed with these last three issues of ASM.

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  5. I don't read Spidey regularly, but I picked this issue up simply on the strength of the COVER and the promise of a nice done-in-one segue between Spidey's chat with Franklin in the final Fantastic Four and the first issue of FF.

    Quietly moving.

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  6. splendid issue...this shouldve been the final issue of FF. Johnny and Spideys friendship is one of the most enduring, ever since they began their annual Xmas/New year drinks atop the Statue of Liberty. Not surprised he didnt attend the funeral; too traumatic. The three tales were terrific; they espoused perfectly why Peter is a viable replacement for Johnny until he comes back.

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  7. Great review Mart!

    I felt the same way that you did when we discovered that Pete had not been at the funeral. However, given the explanation of thinbalion above, I'm likely to believe that theory. Although I'd like to have known that he was there and paying proper respect, I kind of get the sense that he was privately mourning in a way that was just as, if not more, meaningful!

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  8. (Hmm, I thought I'd replied to some comments already ... wonder if I've hit the wrong thread!)

    Thinbalion, thanks for giving us another perspective on Peter's non-attendance at Johnny's funeral.

    Mr Fludd, indeed, P&J were good together, and when the latter returns I hope for more regular team-ups.

    Geosray, I'm impressed by your matching comic to conditions!

    Rob, Chris, I so agree.

    Karl, I don't remember the Statue of Liberty meetings ... well, I can picture them now you mention it, so maybe I have read a few.

    Brian, you're probably right in thinking Peter would have honoured Johnny's memory in his own way.

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