Each year, the Big 2 Publishers release their major "event" comic that is supposed to change the lives of everyone in their respective universes. In 2011, we had Flashpoint from DC and Fear Itself from Marvel. Both books fell far short of what their intentions were.
Strangely enough, there always tends to be one major hero from both worlds that also gets their own mini-event comic. It tends to also include many of the characters from their universe and it usually tends to be better since it scales the size of the event down and makes it easier to invest in the characters, easier to understand the stakes, and it actually does make the changes that affect the future of the characters involved.
When Dan Slott took the reins of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN back in 2008, it gave us the best writer that Spidey has ever had. And Slott has confined his time to only writing ASM, so all of his focus is on the mythology of this one main character, unlike other writers out there who find themselves overextended by writing several books at once and some of those characters end up falling flat. Even more so, with story arcs like "Brand New Day", "Big Time", "Revenge of The Spider-Slayers" and "No One Dies", he's proven that he can write the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man with the wit, emotion and the gravitas he's too long been denied with other writers and creative teams (with the exception of Brian Michael Bendis, but that's been in the Ultimate Universe).
It was a slow build to the events of "Spider Island", but it was well worth the wait. Dr. Miles Warren aka The Jackal, longtime foe of Spidey, and the madman that created his clones that started all of the "Clone Wars" of the 90's, has returned with a deadly new plan: via the use of bedbugs as carriers, he plans to give a virus to all the inhabitants of Manhattan Island that will give all of them the same abilities as Spider-Man! The wisdom of this plan being that anarchy will prevail and the real Spider-Man won't be able to stand up! Of course, with someone as diabolical as The Jackal and his secret partner, this is just a fringe benefit. Entering into the fray against the newly spider-powered criminals are The Avengers, runaway heroes Cloak and Dagger, The FF (or Future Foundation), Shang-Chi, his co-workers at Horizon Labs, Anti-Venom. the enigmatic Madame Web (who cryptically informs our hero that despite his "No One Dies" policy, he will have to kill someone to stop the threat), and a whole new government-controlled Venom!
The whole series is great entertainment that allows for as much fun to be had with the concept as much as it does moments of real danger and drama. With artist Humberto Ramos doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, it's a treat to see his art as always. The stand-out star here, though, is Slott, whose pacing, dialogue and plotting are pitch-perfect for a widely expansive Spidey tale. Now, even if it weren't as good as it is, it would be worth it for the climax of the tale. That issue is a work of genius, and there's a moment in it that almost brings tears to my eyes. It's fantastic work.
The only thing that I wish this collection also included is the SPIDER-ISLAND: CLOAK AND DAGGER mini-series that crossed over with this. It's been quite a while since seeing the two of them, and the incredible work they did in that series with writer Nick Spencer and artist Emma Rios is a must-own. It is available in collected form here: Spider-Man: Spider Island Companion but some of the other stories, such as THE AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL are a little rote.
This is another great arc from Slott and Co., and when this was over, life for Peter Parker had changed pretty drastically, and there may be no going back! This is what a great event comic is made of.