Amazing Spider-Man #801

It’s been a helluva run, Dan Slott. Amazing Spider-Man #801 marks the end of the Spider-scribe’s more than ten-year run on Marvel’s flagship title. This issue’s heartfelt farewell, beautifully illustrated by Marcos Martín, is at once a stirring self-contained story, rich with the character elements that have made Spider-Man so beloved for generations; as well as a sly bookend to an epic tenure that began with the first “Brand New Day” issue back in 2008.

Simply by virtue of his time on the title, Slott deserves to be counted among a handful of great writers who have taken ol’ Webhead on his share of some of the more memorable storylines in comic book history. Personally, I grew up during the DeFalco/Michelinie era. So between following conflicts with Hobgoblins, Gang Wars, and symbiotes, I caught up on the original Stan Lee, Ditko, and Romita issues, themselves some of the single most influential superhero comics ever created. And it is, of course, with a certain reverence that we look back on those formative experiences; to this day, I count David Michelinie among the top five Amazing Spider-Man writers of all time. So what of the generation that has grown up with Dan Slott’s ASM? A lot has happened to Peter over the last decade, from Doc Ock to Parker Industries, and this run will undoubtedly be special for a great number of young comic book fans. I think, however, that as we gain a little distance and perspective, we’ll all truly appreciate where Slott’s oeuvre fits in with some of these all-time great runs.

Slott began his time on ASM right as the Twitter/comment feed-era was turning every comic book page, panel, and nuanced word balloon into fodder for equal parts praise and vilification. Like every facet of pop culture garnering attention over the last ten years, the Internet would have us believe that there are as many people that appreciate Slott’s work as there are people who can’t stand it. But he deserves better than a legacy of mixed reviews. After bringing his last major story arc, “Red Goblin,” to a fiery climax in issue #800, Dan Slott caps his time on the book with a one-off story, “There For You,” told from the perspective of Ken, a nondescript everyday citizen, like you or me, who has had his life irrevocably affected by the actions and existence of Spider-Man. Again, like you or me.

One of the interactions with Spidey occurs during an observation of a street brawl with some of Mr. Negative’s minions. (This is a clever nod back to Slott’s very first issue, #546, complete with the mysterious macguffin-y briefcase.)

Ken reflects back on his life —  the ups and downs, the successes and struggles — and appreciates how the presence of Spider-Man, including one act of superheroism many years ago, has helped shape his understanding of the world today. Beyond the power and responsibility relationship, a lesson Ken takes to heart, we’re reminded that Spider-Man has always been the hero inside each of us. We all have uncles, and loved ones, and we’re all Peter Parker at one level or another. This reflection encapsulates a span of time that, although unspecified, could easily be interpreted as a ten-year period. It serves to remind us that not only have the lessons of Lee & Ditko been ingrained into popular culture, but the decade of Slott’s run is plenty meaningful in its own right.

And on the same week that Slott says goodbye to Spidey, he makes his debut as the new regular Shellhead writer with Tony Stark: Iron Man #1.

Maybe the most ingenious thing about Tony Stark is not his ability to design new mechanical armor, but his ability to reinvent himself. Slott’s take fits the current technology scene in America, with Tony seeming like a more collaborative, long-term Silicon Valley innovator, than a domineering CEO. Whether or not the “We Are Iron Man” actually implies other characters besides Tony will actually drive the plot of this book has yet to be seen, but it’s at least an exciting sentiment. I love seeing Fin Fang Foom come out of the ocean and I’m all for an anime-style giant robot kaiju fight. The Controller is about as exciting as his name suggests, but overall the book’s humorous writing and good looking images make this a strong hook for this Fresh Start storyline! – tyrannofloresrex

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