Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #660

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This story is part of an Arc: "Fantastic Voyage"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: Jun 2011.

Background...

Spider-Man has taken the Human Torch’s place in the ranks of the Future Foundation (formerly the Fantastic Four). The team has been travelling the universe sealing dimensional rifts that threaten the metaphysical integrity of the team’s home dimension. The source of the problem appears to be in the present-day Caribbean, at the same site where, three hundred years ago, Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards and Ben “the Thing” Grimm once traveled through time to fight pirates. Upon investigation, the team thought at first that a mob of zombie pirates was responsible. Now, however, the truth is revealed: the responsible parties are the Sinister Six!

Meanwhile, in Peter’s personal life, his girlfriend Carlie Cooper has discovered that Peter is out of town, and his claim to be traveling on business is a lie. Her judgment impaired by drunkenness and peer pressure, she’s decided to get a Green Goblin tattoo to teach Peter a lesson.

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #660 (Story 1)
Jul 2011 : SM Title
Summary: "Fantastic Voyage" pt. 2
Arc: Part 2 of "Fantastic Voyage"
Story:  Dan Slott
Artist:  Mike McKone, Stefano Caselli
Cover Art:  Llorenzo de Felici, Stefano Caselli
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Marte Gracia
Dialogue:  Fred Van Lente
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Ellie Pyle
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Articles: Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius), Electro, Rhino, Sandman

The Future Foundation, including the kids, pile into the Sinister Six and the zombie pirates. It’s a big donnybrook, so here are only a few of the highlights:

  • Chameleon punches Spidey, thanks to Spidey’s absent spider-sense. The wall-crawler reflects that “if even a run-of-the-mill spy like Chammy can get past my spider-reflexes with martial arts, imagine what I could do if I stepped into the dojo and learned a move or two? All I need is the right teacher.” For more on this, see the Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Amazing Spider-Man) issue.
  • Some kibitzing between the Rhino and the Thing, with reference to their old Unlimited Class Wrestling days.
  • Reed getting angry with Doc Ock. “Why can’t you resist whipping out your brains to prove how big they are?”
  • Electro taunting the Invisible Woman with “Ain’t nobody coming to rescue you,” and her annoyed response that “my days as a professional hostage are long over,” which she follows up with a mean left cross to his jaw.
  • Spidey tangling with the Sandman. “You let me flip you over my shoulder pretty easy, there, Sandy, and why aren’t you turning your whole body into sand and slipping through the webs?”

The answer to this last question, as the rest of the team has already sussed out, is that this isn’t the real Sinister Six: it’s a combination of “mechforms”, i.e. androids, and Mysterio’s hallucinogenic gas. The element of surprise lost, Chameleon and Mysterio, who happen to be the real deal, prepare to depart. They are stopped in their tracks, however, as the Invisible Girl suddenly combusts!

We cut away from that to New York, where the rest of the Sinister Six - the Sinister Four? - are breaking into the Baxter Building. With the younger members of the Future Foundation gone, the Sandman was able to infiltrate the building with a few grains of sand, which constitute the thin end of the wedge. Electro’s ability to short out electronics, Rhino’s super-strength, and Doc Ock’s Big Science make up the rest of it. Having gained access, Ock is able to steal from Reed “one of the last threads I require to finish the tapestry of destiny I have been weaving...” But whatever that is will have to wait for a future story.

Back in the Caribbean, Reed has figured out what’s going on: Sue has gained (the late) Johnny Storm’s flame power! This suggests that the rift the team came to close is destabilizing, with an unforeseen consequence that the team is shifting bodies with alternate versions of themselves from other dimensions (although they retain their own minds and memories). Reed is becoming invisible; Ben is once again human, albeit stretchy; Val is a floating head in a jar (!) and Spider-Man is now wearing a version of Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman’s costume.

Nor do the changes stop there. Dragon Man is now simply a dragon, and he’s mad. While a Thing-like Reed subdues him, a stretchy Sue fiddles with the tachyon pack on the beast’s back. This, says Val, can use some science doubletalk (“reverse the stream of particles through the rift”) to close the hole and solve the problem. And sure enough, it works!

Mostly. It also triggers a huge explosion, forcing Spidey - now wearing some costume I don’t recognize at all - to choose between saving the kids of the FF or capturing Chameleon and Mysterio, who are also wearing weird costumes that I don’t recognize. Of course, Peter makes the right choice. As he says, “No matter what I’m wearing, I’m still Spider-Man! And savin’ people is what I do!”

That may be what he does, but in this case at least, how he does it isn’t obvious. It seems to involve a web net and a somersault. However he does it, the rest of the team is pretty impressed. Peter isn’t, because he saved the kids, but the Sinister Two used the opportunity to escape. “How could I be so careless?” he asks.

“Yeesh! You really are hard on yourself,” says Sue. “...You should be proud of yourself, Peter.”

“This episode [also] garnered you useful intel,” Reed adds, given that Peter now knows the Sinister Six have re-formed. “...This family sticks together. The next time the Six resurface, they’ll have to deal with the entire Future Foundation.”

Peter is overcome by all of this positivity. He’ll need those good vibes when Carlie confronts him about his recent behaviour, which is the scene we’re cutting to for this arc’s finale. Back in Tribeca, at Peter’s apartment, Carlie cuts to the chase: “I stopped off at Horizon Labs, Peter. They didn’t send you on a business trip. Where were you? The truth this time.”

“The truth? It’s...” Peter hesitates. “It’s a secret, Carlie.”

“Not good enough. I’m your girlfriend. Tell me.” Good for her!

“There are things I do that... help with my job. My boss, Mr. Modell, knows about ‘em, and no one else at Horizon...” And he won’t say what those “things” are.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Carlie replies. “...This is about trust.” And without trust, she says, she can’t be with him.

“I get that,” Peter says, “but I also know when you are working a case and you don’t ahve all the answers, you are really good at following your gut. What’s it telling you about me?”

And now Carlie breaks down, because her gut is telling her Peter is trustworthy, even though her head says otherwise. So she’ll stay with him, if he’ll let her. Because there’s the matter of her tattoo. Did she really get some Osborn ink?

Nope! “...I know how you feel about him, but I wasn’t that drunk.” No, she got a Spider-Man tattoo on her right hip. She’s afraid that Peter will be jealous of Spider-Man, but he and we know he won’t be. “I can honestly say,” says Peter as he turns out the light, “That’s the sexiest dang tattoo I’ve ever seen.”

And we leave our hero in his girlfriend’s embrace. A night of sweet lovemaking is tastefully implied.

In General...

Not a lot of story happens this issue, but that’s okay, as the last two issues featured boatloads of story. This one is about providing a big blast of superheroic action, which it delivers. If anything, the battle against the faux Sinister Six was too short and simple! But fair enough: the story hints strongly that in a few months we’ll see a full donnybrook between the Future Foundation and the vrai Sinister Six, so I can’t blame Slott and van Lente for keeping their powder dry for that. The power-and-costume switching engendered by Ock’s portal kept this battle fresh and interesting.

As much as I enjoyed it, I have to kvetch briefly about Doc Ock. Ock knows from cybernetics and radiation, okay. And he’s got some leadership ability, having been a gangster and crime boss. But since when has he been able to place metaphysical tags on interdimensional lacunae? Especially lacunae in the Microverse or the far future? And do so in such a way that he could deceive Reed Richards? This sort of thing used to be far outside of his wheelhouse. I mean, what next? Will the Shocker win the Fields Medal for his work in non-linear algebra, or will Electro display his talent for composing sonnets in iambic pentameter?

This upgrade to Ock’s capabilities is a sign of the unfortunate DC-ification of the Marvel Universe. We don’t see this often! Usually it’s DC that’s getting Marvel-ified. But a scientific genius that’s equally effective in all fields? Until recently, Marvel didn’t have those. Even Reed Richards deferred to Hank Pym in subatomic physics, or Hank McCoy on biomedical science, or Bruce Banner and, yes, Otto Octavius on radiant and high-energy physics. If you wanted someone who could do everything, from physics to chemistry to life science to economics, well, you wanted Lex Luthor, next universe over. Too bad - I think Ock is more menacing when he’s got a limited skill set, because it grounds him more as a character. I guess Slott and van Lente feel differently. Oh well.

Overall Rating...

This one has a fun battle, some nice moments between Peter and the FF, and a satisfying conclusion to Peter and Carlie’s contretemps. Peter even gets some well-deserved coupling with his girl. Plus the Sinister Six subplot - just what does Otto plan? - advances. Four webs, which means the FF arc as a whole gets 3.5 webs: the strong finish helps to balance the weaker stuff in the first two issues.

Footnote...

Why does Marvel describe this issue as part 2 of 2? This is a three-part story that began in Amazing Spider-Man #658 with Peter ditching Carlie to go adventure with the FF. If anything, it’s a four-part story: Peter and the FF reminiscing about Johnny Storm in Amazing Spider-Man #657 is an obvious prologue to Peter's first adventure with the team in the subsequent issues.