It's not secret that I'm a hardcore Spidey fan. It's also no secret that this is a good year to be so. Regardless, I find myself repeating that fact every time I read a great Spider-Man story. Today was another such occasion. Ends of the Earth has been a highlight every fortnight, and the sense of escalation continues in this issue, with the story reaching a natural climax, and preparing us for what should be, a knockout finale.
Dan Slott has once again proved himself a star Spider-Scribe. While AvX seems to be all about the action, End of the Earth has also had its fair share of spectacle, but not without forgetting the star of the show. Indeed, characterization has been strong and consistent with Slott's prior work on the series. He infuses our Spidey with all the brains, wit and pathos that we've come to expect, and still manages to tell a compelling and engaging story. This 'event' has been sheer quality from the start, and has only built momentum since then. While this issue builds a lot from prior issues, it crams an insane amount into 20 pages, and rather than end with a surprising cliffhanger, Slott moves past the expected ending and uses a page to give a single, brilliant character moment. The value of this page is not to be underestimated; I suspect that it will offer the most development for Spidey after this event. Slott has really been knocking it out of the park, and everything about this issue continued this trend.
Not to be outdone, Stefano Caselli stepped back in this issue to deliver some of his finest work. Keeping a high level of consistency, and infusing the series with depth and emotion, Caselli carries the storytelling impressively. As I mentioned above, a LOT happens in this single issue, yet Caselli manages it, still managing to tell a clear and coherent story, while conveying clear emotions. The use of angles and framing prevents cramping in the panels, and he should be commended for communicating such a vast array of physical and mental turmoil in such an effective way. Caselli continues to improve.
Overall, EoTE has been shaping up to be one of the best story arcs this year. I refrain from using the term 'event', as it seems far and away better than most events Marvel has offered in the last few years. While I am still reading AvX, the disappointing offerings so far have turned me off, and to be honest, I was expecting something of the sort from EoTE. The promised scope and and sheer scale seemed to me as a threat to the integrity of a well told story. I'm happy to say that I was wrong. In fact, I couldn't be happier to say it. ASM is rocketing to becoming one of my favorite titles, due largely to the strong commitment of the creative team. Kudos to them for raising the stakes yet again, and continuing their strong story. Can't wait to see how it ends.