The Amazing Spider-Man #659

This is the second issue of Amazing Spider-Man that is basically a Fantastic Four Future Foundation comic. It’s… well, to tell the truth, it’s a bit schizophrenic.

The main story is a romp, with Spider-Man in his third or fourth costume change of the year in this book, but it’s more of an FF story than a Spidey one, with Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente writing, and Stefano Caselli drawing, a tale that makes the most of the weird mix of science-fiction and fantasy that the team are suited to, and includes time-travel, Ben Grimm slapstick and zombie pirates.

And the art is lovely, but the best character work in it centers around a really ill-advised bit of soap-opera plot-development, involving Peter Parker’s girlfriend Carly Cooper. Irritatingly, the issue sets the reader up with a nice two-page scene that makes her problems with Parker’s absence seem convincing and easy to sympathise with, but the next interlude featuring her later on in the book is so boneheaded that it’s distracting, and sours you on the character instantly.

Add to that a weird two-page insert by Dan Slott and Barry Kitson, that begins the set-up of the Infested/Spider-Island storyline that Marvel have been trailing across their books, and looks beautiful but seems parachuted in, and the serviceable but tonally totally out of place nine page back-up story co-starring Ghost Rider, by Robbie Morrison and Lee Garbett, and this is an odd little purchase that can’t help feeling like too much for too much at $3.99.

Mind you, it’s got a gorgeous painted cover by Stefano Caselli and Lorenzo De Felici, and a running gag about the Beastie Boys, which sweeten the deal a little.