Dan Slott has become something of a fixture on Amazing Spider-Man for the last decade. Adding everything from Flash Thompson as Venom, the Superior Spider-Man, Anna Maria Marconi, Parker Industries, and now we’re at the finish line for his run. The approach to Amazing Spider-Man #800 has been something of a question mark: how do you top yourself when you’ve written two of the last anniversary specials? The answer is to go somewhere different.
The last two anniversary specials and the majority of Slott’s run have focused on Doctor Octopus as the major big bad in the life of Spider-Man, but surprisingly Slott’s only written Norman Osborn a handful of times in the last ten years. What’s happened recently and now make up for that in spades. The big spectacle that everyone’s been waiting to see is when the Red Goblin will show up. But Slott takes some time to acquaint us with Peter’s status before it all comes crashing down. Peter’s new normal back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson’s dilemma, Flash Thompson’s renewed attempts at heroism, and the Goblin’s capacity for spite are the big fixtures here. It also adds in a subversion of the usual Spider-Man vs Green Goblin fight that everyone including Slott has indulged in over the years. In one issue, Slott reminds us just why the original Green Goblin is dangerous, even before we get to see just what he’s capable of paired with Carnage, and the stakes that get set up for the anniversary issue are appropriately more dire than what’s come before. Last time we got to see a Peter Parker who was on top of his game, with all the tools, preparation, and allies he needed to take on Osborn. That the tables are turned again allows Slott to show us what Peter is under duress, like any good Spider-Man story.
The other star over the last year has been Stuart Immonen. While it’s hard not to be excited for what Ryan Ottley will do with Spider-Man, Stuart Immonen has been bringing his A-game and then some. His character designs and acting is skillful as always, but the real meat is in his fights. Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks help to accentuate Immonen’s fight scenes, while Marte Gracia’s colors help demarcate the line between bombastic and terrifying throughout the issue. While the 800th issue of Amazing Spider-Man isn’t here yet, the run-up is already making the case for its status as a classic. If you’re looking to jump in, now is the time, Go Down Swinging is going to be a final story arc with a high note.
4 Bombs out of 5