Review: Amazing Spider-Man #656

Published on March 18th, 2011

It has been almost ten issues since writer Dan Slott came on board Amazing Spider-Man and revolutionized the title, taking it out of the long, tired slump it was in during the “Brand New Day” event and breathing new life into thewall crawler with “Big Time.”

Since Slott became the full time writer of this book, it has had a different artist and a new mini-story arc every three issues.  Marcos Martin is the current artist in Amazing Spider-Man #656, his second issue with one left to go.  Issue #656 is the second part in the “No One Dies” mini-arc.  Marla Jameson, J. Jonah Jameson’s wife, was killed in Amazing Spider-Man #654 and Peter Parker, after a nightmare in which he spoke with everyone he’s ever watched die, has vowed that from now on he’s not allowing anyone to get killed while he’s around.


Amazing Spider-Man #656 focuses on Peter dealing with the loss of his spider-sense (from Amazing Spider-Man #654) and his vow that, “No one dies.”  He learns how much he relied on his spider-sense without realizing it, at one point he plummeting to the ground while web-swinging because his danger sense isn’t there to warn him that he has attached his web-line to an unstable surface.

The main focus of this story is the introduction of a new villain, called Massacre, who is an escaped patient of the Ravencroft Institute.  This man does not feel empathy or compassion to human tragedy due to a brain injury.  Spider-Man has to find a way to deal with this madman who’s MO has been to take hostages and start killing them for no reason.  Ultimately, Peter has to design new Spider-Armor to help him fight Massacre after sustaining a bullet wound due to his lack of spider-sense.

Slott can simply do no wrong with Amazing Spider-Man.  He has taken the character in an interesting, new direction since issue #648 and in just a few, short issues, managed to evolve the character on a deep, emotional level.  It’s also really interesting to see the ways in which he has grown other characters, such as Jonah Jameson, who is usually a one note character, but now the reader really feels bad for him after the death of his wife.

I’m usually the first one to complain about Martin’s art.  His work on “Brand New Day” made the books hard to read, but his art in Amazing Spider-Man #’s 655 and 656 have been a drastic improvement.  Say what you will about his art style, his layouts are stunning!  Spider-Man is really a great character for Martin because he depicts movement so fluidly.  I have complained before that Martin’s art feels like he’s trying too hard to evoke a classic, silver age comic tone (sometimes it feels like a faux Steve Ditko style), but lately he seems to have found a really good balance between his own modern and classic influences.  It now feels like his own take on modern styles and the classic, “BIFF, BAM, POW!”

Bottom line: if you’re not reading Slott’s current Amazing Spider-Man (regardless of the artist), you’re doing it wrong!  This is one of the best titles on the market today and issue #656 is no exception.

Ian Candish