Like a Dream.
I'm not a fan of seemingly "pointless" character deaths in comic books. If characters absolutely HAVE to die, I'd like their to be some greater purpose, or else make it be the grandest stand of that character's career. When Dan Slott killed off Marla Jameson two issues back in Amazing Spider-Man, I was all set to drop the series as diving right back into the same old crushing story-lines about Spidey being dragged through tragedy after tragedy.
I'm not wholly prepared to say that's NOT what's going to be happening, but I also can't deny that issue #655 is a beautifully drawn, hauntingly written example of the comic book medium, and instills me with more confidence than ever that this is a book that deserves reading.
Dead is Dead...Naturally, as Marla Jameson has just died, issue #655 deals with her memorial services, and chiefly how Peter deals with the responsibility of yet another death tied to him. This eventually leads the troubled Spider-Man into a fitful sleep filled with disturbing visions of his personified guilt. Yes, Peter's accrued quite the body count over the years, and all those people literally come back to haunt him in this issue. It may seem a tad cliche', but the execution here by both writer and artist are absolutely flawless.
Dan Slott works best with humor. I've come to discover this. Yet, somehow, his charmingly sharp dialogue translates perfectly into giving the ethereal scene of Peter's nightmare an eerie realism. It also doesn't hurt that Slott knows just when and how to inject callbacks to old Spidey storylines and indeed old comic stories as well. You can really feel the chaotic mess that Pete's become by his reactions to and dialogue with figments of his own subconscious. Again, it may seem cliche', but the way Slott writes it (and indeed, the way he actually kinda ACKNOWLEDGES that Pete really needs to move on) makes it engaging beyond what it has any right to be.
Nightmarish BeautyAs good as Slott is here, what completely sold me on this ish was the fantastic art of Marcos Martin. I haven't seen his artwork since Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan, but I loved him there and I love his artwork again here. The first few pages of this issue are completely without dialogue, and Martin portrays them so brilliantly. You can feel the numbness of J. Jonah Jameson, and the utter stomach-churning guilt of Pete by just the looks on their faces. Shift into the familiar, but undoubtedly off-kilter dream sequence, and Martin's smooth, classical, and beautiful artwork just continues to shine.
A Brighter FutureAnd that's all this issue does. It shines. I wish I could continue my disappointment with where the series was going, but at the moment, I just can't. This is just a beautiful example of the medium at work, and although it may be somewhat familiar ground, familiar ground spectacularly re-paved is always worth another tread.
Amazing Spider-Man #655 earns its 5 stars out of 5.