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With this issue we arrive at the end of the “Ends of the Earth” story arc. Doctor Octopus is dying and he wants to have one last act of villainy before he dies. So he gets the Sinister Six back together and hatches his plan. He will send up a bunch of satellites that can, through comic book science, fry half the Earth via accelerated global warming. Everything starts out looking up for Spidey because he has been using his position at Horizon Labs to develop countermeasures against each of his usual enemies. Complicating things, Doctor Octopus convinces the world leaders that he just wants to cure Global Warming and Spider-Man’s being a jerk for not believing him.
A huge part of this issue involves Spider-Man and a couple of his allies fighting Avengers controlled by Doctor Octopus. The theme of this story arc has been whether Spider-Man is better off with or without the technology he’s been developing at Horizon Labs. It seems that for the past few story arcs Dan Slott has been preparing to unwind parts of Big Time. In this issue Spidey comes to the realization that Doctor Octopus has been able to reverse engineer the tech that he’s been putting out there. He goes on a Parker guilt trip about and has to be shaken out of it to concentrate on the fight. J. Jonah Jameson has also shuttered Horizon Labs so it may be time for Spidey’s life to change yet again.
This has been a pretty good story arc. In addition to allowing Spider-Man to doubt whether he’s doing good or bad by working at Horizon Labs, it also allowed Dan Slott to explore his abilities at leading a team, first with the Avengers and then with Silver Sable and Black Widow. Slott’s thrown in the right mix of action and brooding. The art has been fantastic. I thought the best part of the ending was the resolution to the fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. It’s an act that’s both cruel and stereotypical super hero that works both from a story-telling purpose (and what it means for Doctor Octopus’ possible further appearances) as well as giving Spidey a subtle edge that you might not see the first time you read it.
I think this arc has proven that Dan Slott is pretty darned good at writing Spider-Man. There have been some critics – particularly of the way Spider-Man reacts at the end of this issue, but that aside, he’s doing a great job. I’m really looking forward to his new arc. One of the things he’s doing so well is planting the seeds for the n+1 arc during the break issues. During the last issue where we were between arcs he showed that Morbius was experimenting on The Lizard and I think that’s the arc coming up next. This continues to be a fun read and I think you should pick it up (but the next issues’s probably going to be better for that than this one).