A few years ago, due to process of elimination, I attended a Tori Amos concert with my wife. Even though I would not describe myself as a “fan” of Amos, I didn’t have anything against her, and even knew a few of her songs, primarily because my wife was a superfan who owned all of her albums and could sing all of her lyrics.
Despite being one of a small handful of men in attendance and not knowing a single song off her newest album, I was having a good time at the show until Amos got to her encore. At that point in the evening, it became this communal experience for all of Tori’s closest fans. About a dozen women in the row in front of us meandered out into the aisles and did something that resembled a tribal dance. Hands were waving melodically. People were mouthing lyrics to a song I never even heard before.
The point of this anecdote? At the Amos concert, a good time was a bit soured by the fact that towards the end, I felt left out. There was something greater going on in front of me and I couldn’t relate. I wasn’t enough of a fan to really appreciate the show in its totality. Then again, my fish out of water experience still makes this concert a definitive memory for me.
And that’s what I thought about Amazing Spider-Man #659. For the past two issues, ASM writer Dan Slott was building towards Spider-Man joining the newly formed Future Foundation, the next generation of the Fantastic Four, which was now without Human Torch/Johnny Storm after he died. So while I it was guaranteed that most of these adventures were going to be featured in the new FF comic book, I also wasn’t surprised that Spider-Man and the Future Foundation would be worked in prominently in an Amazing Spider-Man comic. I just didn’t expect ASM 659 to be more of a shout-out to Fantastic Four fans rather than Spider-Man fans.
For one, the setting of the issue is an island that was originally featured in Fantastic Four #5 all the way back in 1962 (that issue is also the first appearance of Doctor Doom). I’m sure an avid Fantastic Four fan was thrilled to revisit the setting of such a landmark issue, but as more of a casual follower of the four, I was unaware of the geographic significance of ASM 659 until it was pointed out in the narration.
Then in another nod to the Silver Age of Fantastic Four (and issue #5), The Thing dons the beard and hat of Blackbeard the Pirate, just as he did on the same island in 1962. In the course of their adventures, Spider-Man tells the Thing to “reprise” the role – I’m glad he was boned up on his history because, again, the reference would have been lost on me without all of the bells and whistles screaming, “we’re doing a Fantastic Four shout out here!”
And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the issue, or the Fantastic Four tie-in in general. These issues have been entertaining, and between the current run of ASM, and the FF series, I’m quickly becoming more immersed in the four’s universe. However, just like at that Tori Amos concert, some of this stuff is just going out of my head, and I wonder if I would be connecting more with the issue if I was as much of a Fantastic Four fan as I am a Spider-Man fan. All the same, years from now, I’m going to look back on this issue as the one that was more like a Fantastic Four comic.
Fortunately on the very last page of the story, Slott brings us definitively back into the Spider-Man universe. The Sinister Six appears – the supergroup of super Spider-Man villains – and the cliffhanger for ASM 660 is in place. At least I know that issue will be more of what I’m used to in my comic book reading. Kinda like if Tori Amos busted into a Bruce Springsteen cover during her encore that night.
All images from Amazing Spider-Man #659: Dan Slott & Stefano Caselli