Posted September 6, 2012 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Amazing Spider-Man #693

Reviewing Amazing Spider-Man #693 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos.

Last month’s Amazing Spider-Man #692 was notable for two reasons. One, it was billed by Marvel as the official “50th Anniversary” issue, celebrating the passing of five decades since Spider-Man’s introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15. Two, it introduced a new character, Alpha, as Spider-Man’s sidekick – a historic move, considering that the idea of having a sidekick was something that the Spider-books had relatively steered clear of since the very beginning.

This issue is the second installment in the ongoing story of Alpha, the high school student who gained powers in a freak accident after attending a science demonstration at Horizon Labs. In this issue, Spider-Man has the time of his life (just kidding, absolutely not) trying to keep Alpha under control. A classic Spidey villain inevitably jumps in and makes things difficult for our protagonist and our wannabe-protagonist, and the issue ends with a decision that sets Spider-Man on a path that he appears to be not completely happy with.

Dan Slott wasted no time in illustrating the disparities between Andrew Maguire (nudge nudge, wink wink) and Peter Parker in the previous issue, and these differences continue to play a strong role in the dynamics of their relationship. The way the story plays out isn’t really so much a conventional hero-and-sidekick yarn as it is a battle of dominance between ego (Alpha) and experience (Spider-Man). One of the things I really liked about this issue was that it addressed the importance of one of the tropes of superheroics, which I won’t spoil here. It is one of the most important things that Alpha is lacking, and its absence becomes the impetus for the featured villain’s diabolical plot to come to fruition.

In as far as characterization is concerned, Slott definitely nails it. Alpha clearly did not have the strong guidance of parental figures that Peter had growing up; an interesting irony, since both of Andy’s parents are still alive. In addition to that, while Peter managed to excel in the sciences and capture the attention of everyone at school despite (or perhaps resulting in) his being a regular target for bullies, Andy’s school life revolves around him completely fading into the background and remaining unnoticed. It thus comes as no surprise that Andy abuses and misuses his powers the first opportunity he gets. Slott gets this message across pretty well, though sometimes the way he writes Alpha seems to be a little too two-dimensional.

I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but Humberto Ramos’s art seems to have improved significantly. His people actually look like people now (though he does need to work on faces a bit more, and needs to make his Mary Jane a bit prettier), and his kinetic, anime-ish style works perfectly with such an energetic and action-oriented story. His work really suits this story, and working with Slott on so many issues of Amazing Spider-Man has probably led to him being able to almost perfectly depict Slott’s script. The difference in quality between his work here and on Peter Parker: Spider-Man from  many years ago is astounding. At this point, Slott and Ramos work so well together that I find myself actually looking forward to the next part of this story, which appears to be where, as they say, shit definitely gets real.


Amazing Spider-Man #693 is a strong issue that would stand on its own merits were it not part of a multi-issue story arc. It’s action-packed and never drags on; it definitely gives you more bang for your buck than other comic books that sometimes feel like “filler” issues. Track this one down and buy it, and watch out for Amazing Spider-Man #694, which sports a cover that features a nice homage to Superman VS The Amazing Spider-Man #1.

Mikael Angelo Francisco