Editor's Note: Amazing Spider-Man #620 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 10.
"Mysterioso, Part 3: Smoke and Mirrors"
The final part of Dan Slott's "Mysterioso" arc sees Slott joined by artists Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido to wrap up the story of Mysterio's attempt to take over the New York underground, whilst also dispensing with Spider-Man once and for all.
Mysterio has always been one of the more outlandish Spider-Man villains, so to tell a genuinely compelling story with him is no mean feat. However, Slott manages to make Mysterio's motivations feel plausible here, whilst also putting his methods to such good use that readers will constantly find themselves second-guessing elements of the story that might not be exactly what they seem. Slott is obviously aware of this, and drops a couple of red herrings into the story, as well as hinting that this may not even be the Mysterio that we think he is. However, things are never so confusing that the story is difficult to follow or overly ambiguous.
Slott also ties plot points from his earlier work into the story, resolving a plot thread that has been left dangling since the very first "Brand New Day" arc of Amazing Spider-Man (involving a vial of stolen blood) and pitting Mysterio against an equally arresting super-villain in the form of Mr. Negative. It helps to add some colour and flair to an otherwise fairly straightforward story of gang warfare, as well as giving Spidey some larger-than-life bad guys to hit.
Unfortunately, one plot strand that isn't addressed at all is that involving Aunt May, who recently showed her darker side whilst under the influence of Mr. Negative's powers. It was one of the most powerful elements of earlier chapters of the story, and I was hoping to see Slott explore it further here. I guess we'll have to wait for future issues to see the fallout of that development.
Slott's artists turn in excellent work here, with Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido more or less splitting the issue in two. I know that everyone is raving about Martin's Ditko-esque art on this title--and he does turn in some impressive stuff here, particularly the climactic confrontation between Spider-Man and Mysterio. However, for me it's Pulido who's the real star of the show, with countless little storytelling touches (such as the inspired method in which he manages to clearly show Spider-Man taking a deep breath despite the fact that he's wearing a full facemask, or the visual cacophony of hand-drawn sound-effects during the big fight sequence) that make his work a pleasure to read. Luckily, the two artists' styles are sufficiently similar that there's a smooth transition between their work, too: without the explicit indications given by the credits page, I would have been hard pushed to identify exactly where Pulido's artwork ended and Martin's began.
On top of the main story, there's a final epilogue that probably won't come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading Amazing Spider-Man regularly for the last few months, but which adds even more tension to the preparations for the big "Gauntlet" story that Marvel has been teasing for a while. Let's hope it lives up to the build-up.
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