So, it's all come down to this. The end of an era has occurred with the final issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Dan Slott has spoken, and the fans are reacting.
There were a number of variant covers to commemorate the historic nature of this issue, but the standard release is an achievement of its own, a collage composed entirely of images from previous Spider-Man comics to create a larger picture of half of Spidey's mask. There's artwork from all eras of the comic's run featured--I particularly enjoyed playing "Where's Carnage?" with the red section of the spread. Kudos to Mr. Garcin on crafting such a memorable image for the final issue of this title.
The final confrontation between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus takes part on several levels in this over-sized issue. Peter is trapped in Ock's failing body, and Ock has taken over Peter's younger, super-powered body. The stakes are immeasurably high for both men, as they both know each other extremely well and end up combating each other on arenas that span the physical, intellectual, and emotional realms. The resolution reveals a lasting change that will starkly impact the webslinger's legacy going forward, as both men end up thinking and acting in ways they'd never expected to until this final, deadly duel.
While I myself have reservations about the way things went down at the end of this particular story arc, I can not bring myself to fault Dan Slott for his writing. This was a good story, with a compelling hook, plenty of twists and turns, and a final battle that really did keep me in suspense up to the end. He did no disservice to the character or the material with this effort, even if the ending is one that will upset and anger a lot of Spider-Man fans. No one was out of character (hell, the characterizations made for some great moments), nothing really came out of left field, and the ending provides a good opportunity for readers to reflect on the nature of victory, loss, and how mortality ties into that in a superhero story.
Do I wish things would have gone differently? Of course, but in much the same way I wish Civil War had ended differently. I may have been angry with how it ended, with Cap dead and Iron Man in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there could be no denying that Civil War was a really good story. I can dislike the ending while still finding the overall story to be an impressive one, and I think most mature readers will be able to make a similar acknowledgment here.
Plus, I think there's an opportunity to tell some very different, and very worthwhile, Spider-Man stories with this new take on all things Spidey. Slott has done an excellent job up to this point, and am happy to let him run with the ball and see where he takes us in Superior Spider-Man.
Humberto Ramos continues to knock it out of the park with his artwork in this issue. No matter where the action took place or who he was drawing, everything looked wonderful. Whether Peter is 15 again in a flashback, or struggling in Ock's body, we get iconic, clean and dynamic depictions of him. I'm still seeing the occasional set of uneven eyes on his characters, but I'm willing to suspend criticism in light of the comparatively overwhelming body of all the other amazing works he's done.
Overall, there's really no denying this is a must-have issue for Spider-Man enthusiasts. Like or hate the story's ending, this is a definite historical and narrative milestone for the mythos of the wall crawler. I personally enjoyed this story despite the denouement, and remain convinced that Dan Slott is the writer this series needs right now. Highly recommended.