Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #700.5

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This review was first published on: Jun 2014.

Background...

So Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four have been friends for a long time and they know his secret identity. This story is set in the past before ASM #700.

In Detail...

"Spider-Man & the Human Torch Save the Universe"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #700.5 (Story 1)
Feb 2014 : SM Title
Writer:  Brian Reed
Pencils:  Sean Chen
Inker:  Sandu Florea
Cover Art:  Morry Hollowell, Pasqual Ferry
Colorist:  Chris Sotomayor
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Alejandro Arbona, Tom Brennan
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Review

Our story begins with Peter falling on his bed, fully costumed but unmasked, ready for some “spectacular spider-sleep.” He’s awakened, though, by Johnny Story, the Human Torch, looking for help. Peter, putting out a stray ember with his webbing, is surprised when he finds that Johnny needs to save the world from Reed Richards, a fellow member of the Fantastic Four. When our hero asks for clarification, Johnny says, “You’re slower than usual today. Did you just wake up?” Frustrated, Peter inquires why Johnny’s in his apartment, and he reveals that he’s carrying a bag with a universe-collapsing device inside.

The Human Torch is distracted by a picture of Mary Jane until Peter finally convinces him to begin some explaining. Last night, Johnny was fast asleep when Ben Grimm from the future appeared in his bedroom. He had a beard, as did the other future members except for Sue. Future Ben had given him the universe-collapsing device, known as the Calvin Mechanism, in a bag, and he explained that he must keep it from Reed or he will accidentally set it off and…“boom.” Future Ben then disappeared, dramatizing, “You’re the universe’s only hope, Johnny…”

After hearing the story, Peter tells his friend that it’s insane. Suddenly, the other three members of the Fantastic Four appear outside the window, looking for the Calvin Mechanism. Frantically, the Human Torch flies away with the device. After telling the remaining heroes to quiet down because of his neighbors, Spidey joins the heroes in pursuing the Human Torch in the Fantasticar.

Reed explains to our main character that they must keep the Calvin Mechanism from villains, and if Johnny accidentally sets it off, “the atoms of everything in this universe will attempt to share the same point in space and time.” The Fantastic Three are surprised when Spidey mentions that Ben from the future had visited Johnny because they thought he was being used as a pawn by a time-traveling enemy. Reed is dismayed when Peter mentions that Johnny’s keeping the device specifically from him.

When the Thing finds the Human Torch’s location, Spidey shouts, “Son of a biscuit!” Johnny arrives at the apartment of Mary Jane Watson, and she warmly greets him. He is enigmatic about why he has arrived, and MJ figures it’s “a messed up super hero shenanigans thing.” Our favorite supporting character asks if her apartment is about to be invaded by mole men, but instead the Fantastic Three and Spider-Man arrives through a portal in the wall.

When the heroes leave the Fantasticar, MJ is annoyed that Ben cracks her newly waxed tiles. Spider-Man describes the situation to her as “messed up super hero shenanigans,” and MJ asks for the portal in her wall to be closed. Reed convinces Johnny to drop the Calvin Mechanism and MJ runs off to get everybody drinks with Peter. In the kitchen, MJ tells Peter that she’ll allow them to resolve the problem in her apartment because she doesn’t want the entire universe to be destroyed in her living room.

Later, the heroes and MJ all sit around the Calvin Mechanism until sundown. Eventually, Peter rises and when he looks in the bag, finds that there is no universe-collapsing device inside. Instead, there’s a note from Future Ben saying that there was no Calvin Mechanism; it was all a prank. The heroes are all furious at the Thing for what he will do in the future, and he laughs, bellowing, “I gotta write this one down on my calendar so’s I know when to travel to when I find me a time machine!”

Soon, Peter returns to sleep in his apartment. In the Baxter Building, the Thing reads a Fantastic Four comic book while eating a sandwich. Suddenly, Johnny from the future (with a beard, I might note) rushes in, explaining he needs help to save the universe! Ben explains that his future self pulled the prank yesterday, and Future Johnny is disappointed saying, “As soon as it (future Ben’s arrival) happened, I decided I’d do it a day early just ta keep you from beating me to the punch.” He teleports away, upset he wrote down the wrong date. Ben continues eating his sandwich, saying, “Ya’d think if we have a time machine, we’d come up with a better use for it.”

In General...

This is a light-hearted story that highlights Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four’s fun relationship very well. It’s cool to see that the final installment to the 700.s includes a feature of Peter’s superhero career that’s been around since ASM #1. Although it lacks depth or any thought-provoking theme, this is a fun read.

The best part of this story is quickly the humor. The twist that the whole universe-collapsing device was a joke is absolutely hilarious, and Ben’s discussion with Future Johnny at the end is classic. Overall, the script is one that never takes itself very seriously and it works for this story. The various jokes and light-hearted banter are very entertaining.

Sadly, the humor isn’t enough to sustain the entire story. The plot itself, other than the funny twist at the end, isn’t really good enough to take up a whole issue. Everything moves slowly and it’s tiresome. The story’s conflict is resolved dully with the heroes all peacefully agreeing to sit around a table and wait for sunset, depriving the story of a great climax.

I found Sean Chen’s artwork to be a solid enough for the story. Chen isn’t really given anything especially exciting to draw, and he gets no action. He isn’t really the type of artist that draws talking people very well, and the facial expressions are a bit boring. Chen’s art, I imagine, would have worked better with a few dynamic sequences.

Overall Rating...

Funny and light-hearted, but the plot is dull and anticlimactic. Chen's art would have worked better with some action.