Pick of the Week

February 10, 2010 – The Amazing Spider-Man #620

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: Marcos Martin & Javier Pulido
COVER BY: Marcos Martin

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Spider-Man comics should be good.

I know that sounds crazy and simple and obvious but it’s true. Spider-Man comics should be good. He’s Spider-Man, for god’s sake. He’s the face and the symbol of the largest and most popular American comic book company and dammit his comics should be good.

Ever since “Brand New Day” began, Spider-Man comics have been good again and occasionally they’ve been great. This week, The Amazing Spider-Man #620 was great.

Dan Slott is a writer that a lot of people get really passionate about. He has created a very vocal group of hardcore fans through books like Thing and She-Hulk. For me, I’ve found Slott’s work to be hit or miss — some of it I really love and some of it I’ve found just isn’t my style. The latter usually occurs when the story and dialogue is overly jokey. That works with Spider-Man. A script filled with lots of (often bad) jokes and puns is how Spider-Man should be presented. Right now, Brian Michael Bendis writes the quintessential version of Spider-Man at Marvel Comics, in both the Marvel and Ultimate universes, but Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is often just as good. This was one of those times.

One thing that really struck me about The Amazing Spider-Man #620 is how much story there is crammed into 32 pages. In an era where decompression is still quite common, what we have here is a comic book bursting at the seams with story. This issue is filled with six, seven, eight panel pages and every one of them packed with action and lots of dialogue. And it never feels overly busy; instead this is a comic book where you truly get your money’s worth.

The Amazing Spider-Man #620 is the final issue of the three part Mysterio arc, and this is the first time I can remember seeing him in the Marvel Universe since he was “killed” way, way back in Kevin Smith’s Daredevil run. I love Mysterio. I love his unique take on villainy. He’s not in it for the power or for the revenge and he’s not tragically misunderstood. He just loves putting on a show. And the bigger the show the better. That makes him a really fun character to read. In this arc, Mysterio has his hooks into the Maggia crime family, having created many lifelike androids of their dead members for their war with Mr. Negative and his Chinatown-based gang. He is, of course, secretly double-crossing the mob for his own amusement and financial gain. It was really fun to watch the duality in the story as the mob saw Mysertio’s actions one way and we saw them in another way, knowing the truth behind what Mysterio was really up to. Superheroes and supervillains are inherently theatrical and I like a character that embraces that aspect fully and plays it up.

There’s a lot going on here in addition to the war between the Maggia and Mr. Negative and Mysterio’s mucking everything up between the two. In the b-plot we have NYPD CSI Carlie Cooper — Peter’s current “will they or won’t they” friend — dealing with the fact that her own policeman father who had been thought dead for many years is not actually dead, but is alive and working with Mysterio. In fact, he was always working with Mysterio and it was Mysterio who faked his death in the first place. Once she deals with the idea of her dead father being not so dead, what does she do? Now that she knows that her father is and was a dirty cop does she turn him in? Does she let him go? Tough questions. And one hell of an emotional rollercoaster for Carlie.

And then there is Spider-Man. I love the portrayal of Spider-Man in this issue and a lot of that has to do with the art. Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido are two guys with similar old-school retro art styles that are absolutely perfect for this book. If I had it my way, these two guys would be permanently in place as rotating Amazing Spider-Man artists. Their style recalls the glory days of Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr, but with modern sensibilities and layouts. One thing that I really, really liked about the art in this issue is that during the climatic battle between the Maggia crime family and Mr. Negative and his gang and Spider-Man they gave us multiple peeks behind Spider-Man’s mask. It’s tough to show what emotions your lead character is experiencing when his face is fully covered by a mask. (That’s why the mask was always coming off in the movies.) There are a lot of artists who take liberties to show what emotions Spider-Man is experiencing — usually by playing with the size of the eyes on the mask. That’s a classic technique and I like it a lot. But here Martin and Pulido take a more realistic approach to the costume — it’s cloth and can’t change. So in order to let us the audience in on what Peter is experiencing in the fight they turn the mask transparent at a few critical points. We can see his terror, we can see his determination, and we can see his face when he cries out in pain. It’s a really nice device that is not over done so when it is used it has much more impact.

There is something really wonderful about a classically constructed Spider-Man comic book. Any time Spider-Man gets thrown into the middle of a big fight with all the odds are stacked against him and when it looks like all hope is lost Spider-Man pulls it out in the end but then the villain escapes thinking he’s smarter than Spider-Man but Spider-Man outsmarts him and in the course of the final fight it looks like the villain dies (again) and Spider-Man ends up soaking wet sitting on a dock covered in an NYPD blanket and drinking coffee with his mask rolled up and then in some other part of the city the villain reemerges and begins his evil plans anew… then, True Believers, you know you’ve got a great Spider-Man comic book on your hands.

I’ve been really enjoying all of these short Gauntlet stories that have been bringing back the classic Spider-Man villains. They’ve always been my favorite of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. When these solo arcs are over and the villains all come together to take on Spider-Man, it’s going to be truly exciting.

It makes me so happy when Spider-Man comics are good. And this one was really good. The Amazing Spider-Man #620 was like a really good cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day.

Conor Kilpatrick
Time to go play in the snow!


  1. Is this the earliest pick ever? It’s four o’clock!

  2. Nope. I think the earliest was like 1pm.

  3. Nice pick. I miss Mysterio, he’s one of my all time favorite villains. Should’ve given this arc a shot. But I’ve given this new run many, many tries and it hasn’t faired well at all.

    That is a gorgeous cover though. Definitely one of the best this week.

  4. YES!!  I’m glad this got pick of the week, it was such a great issue and this review is pretty dead on!!!

  5. Love the cover.

  6. Wow, I haven’t even left to get comics yet…

  7. @nextchamp, ASM has been superb since one more day. Case in point American Son, and now the Guantlet. The recent issue with the Rhino was simply excellent.

     I don’t know what you mean when you say you’ve given the "new run" a shot? What story/stories didn’t you like?

  8. Great pick conor didnt expect the pick to be up this quick cant wait to read it

  9. *sry meant couldnt wait to read it

  10. This POTW and the hype surrounding the Gauntlet makes me want to pick this book back up.  Then again, there was all the same hype when I dropped it during the Sandman arc.

  11. I thought this might have a chance even tho I haven’t enjoyed this arc with Mysterio as much…..side note:  Just listened to Episode 54 ( the 1st Anniv show) and there was a question about Conor liking/dis-liking Dan Slott.  Said then that Slott wrote "too hokey" of a style.

  12. my LCS is closed due to snow.

  13. I think Sweet Tooth #1 was up there for earliest….

  14. Y’know it crossed my mind not a couple of hours ago that this might be the pick and here it is…haven’t read it yet but seems to me like a top drawer choice. 

  15. @roadcrew1: Like I said in the review, he often does. But sometimes he doesn’t.

  16. @RocketRacoon: I say I’ve read up to the Molten Man story from last year. The only two stories I truly loved were the one’s with Chris Bachelo as the artist. Those were good stuff. But everything else has been so medicore or just plain bad (in my mind at least), I couldn’t follow it on a regular basis anymore. I did try the 600th issue, American Son, and bought the Deadpool issue….Two out of those three I didn’t like. You could probably guess which one I did. lol

    Although the idea of Marvel going back to OMD, if this teaser is any indication, then I will try the series once more.

  17. I bought he first two issues of this arc, but I had decided not to pick up the last for financial reasons. Mob stories just bore me to tears.

    But really, it all points to a problem I’ve been having lately with Spider-Man, specifically when I tried to watch the Spectacular Spidey cartoon: I’ve seen all of this before. The show was dull because I’ve already SEEN Peter fight the Lizard while ditching Gwen Stacey and leaving Aunt May at the hospital because of his responsibilities or whatever. I’ve been watching/reading this same, exact story my entire life.

    I like Brand New Day. It needed to be done. But at the same time, as we experience an ongoing storyline in which Spider-Man fights all of his old villains… again, I worry that maybe my time with the ol’ web-slinger might be over… for a while ,at least. 

  18. I love early picks. I’m heading out now to the comic shop.I’ll pick it up. I like Mysterio too.

  19. Is this THE original Mysterio?  Does he still have half a face?  Last time we saw him he was running around a high school with 2 other mysterious and a strange bug lady.

  20. @spiderphilman: It’s Quentin Beck and his face is intact.

  21. Ohhhh right…Brand New Day- Maybe the stories with DD and then the bug lady are irrelevant?

  22. I didn’t hit the shop today because of snowpocalypse.  I’m hoping to go tomorrow.  I can’t wait to read this and the other books I got coming my way.

  23. I’m definitely looking forward to this.  I’ve been picking up Spider-Man intermittently since OMD, but have made a point of picking it up since the recent Rhino issue.  I’m also super stoked for the upcoming return of my all-time favorite Spider-Man writer Roger Stern.

  24. I have not been reading ASM, but every time I see one drawn by Martin, I think, "Why the hell am I not reading this?"

  25. @Aaronjscott: Jump on this…

  26. I certainly don’t understand all the hype over this issue, I almost felt bad giving it the 3 stars I did.  This whole Mysterio arc seemed like one letdown after another, and I’m really just glad it’s finished. 

  27. I gave my POTW to Batgirl for I think the fourth consecutive issue.  Easily the best superhero ongoing out there right now.  Yeah, you read that right, Geoff Johns.

  28. @spiderphilman

    Mysterio says he might not even be Beck, (but he totally is) and says that he faked his death last time because he is a master of illusion 

  29. It’s a trap!

    Well. I’ll get this.

    I’ll be able to get my books tomorrow beacuase of a shipping delay. I also wish Martin and Pulido would stay. I couldn’t stop reading ASM 619 (SanFran?) because of the retro art and dialogue. Its (supposed to be) dropped because I cannot afford it. I guess I’ll buy it when I’m interested. And that doesn’t include next week.

  30. While I appreciate the high level that ASM has been for what seems like a while now, it just isn’t my thing. I love humor. I love realism. I love fantastical adventure. I should like Spider-Man in theory, but he does nothing for me. Does this mean I hate comics?

  31. I gave this one a 4/5.  I enjoyed it, but definitely not enough to make it my pick.  I’ve only made it through half my stack though.

  32. @Conor

    Great pick! I am a slott fan, but I could see him being “hacky” at times. Great issue and Marcos Martin is my favorite artist currently working. I would love to see he and pulido split the ASM ongoing duties with occasional guest shots by jrjr. ASM has been one of the vest comics week in and week out since bnd, and anyone boycotting does not know what they are missing. My only complaint with gauntlet is not enough Peter. Spidey is great but I just want a little more of Petes life in there!

  33. @Peterparker18102: No, no, no. I never said Dan Slott was "hacky," I said that at times I find his stuff "hokey." Those are two REALLY different criticisms.

  34. @aaoron
    even if you aren’t reading this, you need to buy the issues Marcos draws. They are gorgeous!

  35. Great issue and a great pick.  Is Gauntlet going to be dominating 2010? Not dominating the world of comics, though it may be when all is said and done, but dominating ASM.  It shows no signs of slowing, hell its still building.  Just curious on how long this is supposed to go.

    I love the Mysterio is in on the joke of how twisted he is.  Nothing he says or does can be taken at face value and despite the fact that Spider-Man and the NYPD are aware of his deal, he can still pull it off.  His ‘update’ has been more subtle than the other villains but a lot of fun.

    All that said, I gave my POTW to USM.  ASM was still a 5, but I had to give it to USM.

  36. @conor

    I think my hacky and your hokey are interchangeable, just a liitle to punny and tounge in cheek at times is what i meant

  37. I enjoyed this issue well enough, 4/5. I think it looses a star because I guess I didnt like the overall arc enough. But, I am pumped for what Chameleon is cookin’!

    Strangely enough I found myself almost giving my POTW to Pixie Strikes Back.  It really surpriesed me!  Ultimately though my pick went to another X-Book, New Mutants #10.  The series has really taken off for me and atually got another one of my picks a couple months back!

  38. Hit-Monkey #1 was robbed!

  39. @drake: That’s cause no one running the site picked it up! It’s not a complaint just an observation.

    Although Hit-Monkey sounds totally up ron’s alley. 🙂

  40. @tnc you said the same thing about Ron liking Deadpool.  I don’t think its his kind of silly.

  41. The whole gauntlet arc has been a great read. 

  42. @vadamowens: But it’s a monkey posing as a hitman! What’s not to love? 🙂

  43. Glad to see this make pick o’ the week. ASM has been incredibly good lately and this issue is more than deserving of your praise.

  44. The Gauntlet has been okay, but the only writer who has knocked it out of the park has been Van Lente. His version of The Sandman had understandable motives and the story was full of moral ambiguity and twists and sand.

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