As far back as ASM #648 and ASM #653, we saw that Doctor Octopus was tinkering around on the space station that Horizon Labs sent up into space with Col. John Jameson and crew aboard. Planning the supervillain plot to end all supervillain plots, Ock now makes his move.
|Assistant Editor:||Ellie Pyle|
|Writer:||Dan Slott & Chris Yost|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
|Colorist:||Frank D' Armata|
The opening scene is set in both outer space and at Horizon Labs--John Jameson is outside the Apogee 1 Space Station, communicating with Peter, Max Modell, Juergen, Jonah and Glory Grant down on the ground. Watching Jonah communicate with his son John via the uplink to the station, Peter thinks to himself that he's getting a glimpse of Mayor Jonah's human side. His reverie is cut short by John being panicked and surprised by something off-screen, and then the connection going dead. Apogee goes through a "catastrophic system failure", and Jonah freaks, berating the Horizon team to save his son. Peter uses the pandemonium to make his exit and suit up, heading to the Baxter Building.
He finds Johnny Storm there, dancing in his underwear to the song "Friday". After being surprised by Spidey, Johnny explains the rest of the Fantastic Four are off on holiday in the Savage Land, and that Johnny himself is catching up on all the TV he missed while he was busy being "dead" (re: trapped in the negative zone). Spidey explains that he needs one of the FF's ships to get to John Jameson and Apogee 1.
Back at Horizon, Max Modell tries to console Jonah, but Jonah shrugs him off, saying he'll never forgive Modell for the danger he's put his son in, that Horizon itself is dangerous and that no matter what happens, he won't forget it.
Docking with and boarding the Apogee 1, a floating Spidey and Johnny find that "the artificial gravity systems must have failed too". Something sets off the spider-sense, and suddenly Spidey and Johnny are attacked by a bunch of Doc Ock's mini Octobots. Finding webs ineffective against the pests and not wanting to use Johnny's flame power so as to not burn up oxygen, they wonder what they'll do next. Suddenly, several Octobots are lazer-zapped off panel. John Jameson tells them "come with me if you want to live".
Back on Earth in the underwater base of the Sinister Six, Mysterio notes to Doctor Octopus that about a hundred of his Octobots have gone offline. Ock tells him that his plan must come to fruition, and to allow the Octobots to finish their task and then destroy the Apogee 1, and that twenty minutes should suffice.
John Jameson fits Johnny and Spidey with some zero-gravity propellant belts to get around. John explains he was outside when the crew were going about their day to day experiments, researching deep space travel, when the incident happened. At that moment, a bay door is pried open to a constant "TKK TKK TKK" sound: the crew of the Apogee emerge, clad in Ock's contraptions and turned into "Octobot Zombies".
Being of the adventures of Spidey and Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, who hasn't been seen in these pages since ASM #657's tribute issue to Johnny which itself was flashback-based. I wasn't thrilled at first to hear Johnny was to be guesting in this issue, but he and Spidey's banter is pretty funny here and besides, how else was Spider-man going to be able to get into space?
Dan Slott and Chris Yost's story is energetic, well-paced and ends on an interesting, though, if I can use this analogy again, quite video-gamey hook (zombies on a space station, I think I played that one). As good a writer as Slott frequently is, he needs someone to balance out his excesses on the title, and Yost fills the role as ably here as he did in #679's "point one" issue. It's still unclear as to what Doc Ock's master plan is, but that will be tackled in upcoming storylines. This issue serves as a way to rachet up that tension, and Slott and Yost even set a subplot on the back burner for good measure: Mayor Jameson's indictment of Modell and his Horizon Labs being too dangerous (a way to reset Peter Parker and the title back to pre-Horizon Labs status quo?)
Lastly, Giuseppe Camuncoli blows the doors off with his art this issue--sprawling double page space shots, tight character work during the emotional scenes, and adequately creepy Octo-Zombies at the end, though they could've been perhaps creepier. Like a latter-period John Romita Jr., Camuncoli's Spider-man often has a blocky quality that I can't quite put my finger on, but Camuncoli, with Klaus Janson's inks, really rises to the level of the story in an impressive way.
Slott and Yost double down on the pop culture references here and also take Spider-man further still from his street-level roots, but it's a massively entertaining issue and it works. Great build up to the Sinister Six and the "Ends of The Earth" tale as well.
I find it a bit odd that this issue and the last went to press with no story title to be found anywhere in their pages.
Johnny Storm returned to the land of the living (ok, the land of 'not-the-negative-zone') in Fanastic Four #600.