By: Dan Slott (writer), Humberto Ramos (pencils), Carlos Cuevas (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), Joe Caramanga (letters) & Tom Brennan (Associate Editor)

The Story: Hobgoblin is back, but is it the Hobgoblin we’ve been expecting.

What’s Good: This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for good Spider-Man comics.  My comic happiness meter is somewhat tied to the quality of the Spider-Man comics.  When they’re good, I’m happy and enjoy the hobby.  When they’re not so good, it really just bums me out.  So, we should all be very thankful for what Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are feeding us right now.

A vital element of good Spidey stories is the emotional roller coaster.  The guy has a hectic life, so the story needs to keep moving like an overcaffinated jackal.  Slott does a great job with this as he rarely spends more than a page or two on any particular story element.  It is just a wonderful job of pacing that allows him to make great use of the 30-page format to tell a LOT of story. We cover a lot of ground: we learn who the Hobgoblin is, see Spidey & Black Cat save Norah from some bikers, touch on Peter’s love life, see Peter’s first day on the job at Horizon labs, Captain Steve needling Jonah, the saga of Mac Gargan and a great cliffhanger.  Through it all, it hits all the emotional notes that you want in a Spider-Man story.  There’s even a great emotional high for Aunt May in here.  So there!

I have mixed feelings about this 30-page format.  Slott is working the heck out of it.  I think Jeff Parker would kick butt with this page count too.  And I wonder if I wouldn’t enjoy comics in 30 page chunks as a median between single issues and trade paperbacks.  But, then I consider what some of our decompressed writers might do with 8 extra pages and grimace (but I guess that is a “weak editor” problem).

Ramos is going a great job with the art on this title.  Artists like Ramos or Chris Bachalo who have this more cartoony style have a singular advantage over their more realistic brethren: Since none of the anatomy is even attempting to be realistic, you don’t fixate on weird anatomical features like a funny nose or an pair of legs that are way too long or strange looking muscles.  That’s just how it is and it keeps you 100% in the story.  But, with Ramos it is more than just the drawings.  He is also a master of layouts as evidenced by a couple of pages where he us shows us the Goblin laugh of Phil Urich.  Awesome stuff.

What’s Not So Good: Nothing.  I think this is 2 virtually perfect issues in a row.  All the characters are perfect.  The art is perfect.  The story is fun.  I have nothing to criticize (again).

Conclusion: There are a few Spidey-fans out there who have sworn off ASM since Brand New Day, but I strongly encourage you to come back.  You’re only hurting yourself and are missing out on a really good story line by Slott and Ramos.

Grade: A

-Dean Stell