We here at Crave Online love Dan Slott.
If there's one thing we can agree on, is that this guy is consistently knocking his stories out of the park, and the latest Sinister Six epic "Ends of the Earth" in Amazing Spider-Man is no exception. Last issue, the bad guys took out the Avengers and we loved it. They're a threat. A global threat… or are they? Ostensibly, they are trying to save the world here. Maybe. Maybe?
Anyway, Amazing Spider-Man #684 opens with Spidey and the Avengers in defeat, and Dr. Octopus about to deliver the coup de grace on Spider-Man and end it once and for all – but the ingenuity of Silver Sable saves both Spidey and the Black Widow from certain doom, allowing them to scramble away and try to figure out another way to stop Ock's plan… to eliminate global warming before he dies. Is Spidey blinded enough by his long enmity with Otto Octavius that he can't imagine the idea of him actually being true to his word, or is he the only guy that's right when the rest of the world is wrong? We don't know, and that's why this story is so cool.
The U.N. has agreed to allow Ock to enact his plan, and he starts to make his demands – two billion dollars and clean criminal records for all of his compatriots, and the establishment of an Octavius Academy for science. The former is why Flint Marko, the Sandman, enlisted in this operation – he's trying to clear his name so he can get custody of his daughter Keemia. That's his single-minded focus, and it's why he went up against his former teammates in the Avengers, and why he's going up against his ex-boss and former crush Silver Sable in this issue. In the middle of the Sahara. Where he's got a nearly infinite amount of sand to work with.
The resulting fight is really fun and interesting, and you gotta love the way Slott plays up the "science hero" side of Spider-Man – especially with the entire Horizon Labs team as his back-up squad of eggheads helping him figure out new and interesting ways to defeat Sandman, but also explore the mechanics of how Marko does what he does. The ingenuity is impressive and as much a joy to read as the banter between the webhead and his Soviet Bloc partners Sablinovia and Romanoff. And then there's Humberto Ramos and his fantastically kinetic art, looking less cartoonishly contorted and much more straight-up awesome during a fight with a massive sand-monster shapeshifting like a madman. Plus, his gnarled-up Doc Ock never fails to look completely disturbing.
Amazing Spider-Man #684 is a great read all around, all the time. It's entertaining, it's high adventure, it's funny, it's smart and it's part of a series that's got everything you want out of comics – fun on every darn level.