By: Dan Slott & Christos Gage (writers), Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Antonio Fabela (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Ellie Pyle (assistant editor) & Stephen Wacker (editor)
The Story: The Hobgoblin(s) are back, someone is messing with the Spider Sense & the secret identity is at risk.
A few things (with very minor SPOILERS): 1). Is Dan Slott putting the furniture back where he found it? - There has been a decent amount of speculation about whether Slott will still be writing this title after Marvel NOW happens. One tell-tale sign could be that he seems to be putting things back where he found them. I think it was Brian Bendis who said that you can actually change things a LOT when you’re writing a mainstream superhero, but you have to put everything back where you found it before the next writer shows up. One of the first acts of Slott during his Big Time story arc (beginning with ASM #648) was having Phil Ulrich seemingly kill Roderick Kingsley and take the mantle of the Hobgoblin. There was a lot of outcry from the fanbase that an upstart like Ulrich would take out a classic villain so easily, but now we’re seeing the initial glimpses of how Slott will put Kingsley back in the suit. Seriously–will anyone be sad to see a punk like Ulrich get his just desserts?
1a). Ulrich shows how to build a punk character. - One of the complaints I had with the Alpha character during the last story arc is that he was introduced and smacked down too fast. The case of the Ulrich Hobgoblin shows that Slott knows how to build-up a cretinous character such that the readers are savoring his eventual downfall. We’ve been watching this smart-mouth Hobgoblin and punky Ulrich toying with Spidey (and supporting characters like Norah) for two years! NOW we are really ready to watch Kingsley take him down. It’s a shame that the same, patient approach wasn’t taken with Alpha (or maybe his story isn’t yet finished).
2). Cool use of the Spidey Sense. - I certainly haven’t read every Spider-Man comic ever written. Has this scenario where the Spidey Sense it tuned up too high ever been done before? Just as it was interesting to see Slott take the Spidey Sense away for a few issues last year, it’s pretty neat to see what happens when it overacts. Basically Peter can’t even function with life and it gives the writers a get opportunity to show the minor threats that Peter is afraid of: Papercuts, fat men who ate burritos for lunch, etc.
3). Secret identity threats? - It sure seems like they might be about to undo One More Day, huh? Peter is expressing concern that the linkage between his work at Horizon and Spidey could make people scrutinize him too closely and thus make Dr. Strange’s spell fall apart. We’ve also got a villain who seems to have put all the pieces together. And just to top things off, we’ve had MJ lurking around for long time with nothing to do but be a nightclub owner (i.e. – Slott is making it very clear that she is present, even if she doesn’t really figure in the plot….yet). Maybe this is the big thing they’re headed for with issue #700? I really hope if they go down that path, they just have people figure out the identity and have MJ and Peter start dating. We don’t need a big, dramatic issue with Mephisto and Dr. Strange….
4). Interesting writing. - It’s interesting to see the Slott + Gage team-up on this issue. Personally, I’m much more partial to Slott’s writing and while I thought I detected some of Slott’s wit in this script, it felt more like Gage interpreting Slott’s concepts. I’ll bet the joke about the fat dude with the burrito was Slott. There’s nothing wrong with the writing in this issue, but it does seem to lack the usual “snap” that Slott’s ASM often has.
5). Mostly good art. - Anyone who reads my reviews of ASM knows that I always dread it when Humberto Ramos rotates off the title and Camuncoli comes on. And, I always feel like I’m being a little unfair to Camuncoli because almost any artist pales next to the Ramos/Olazaba/Delgado art team. But, this issue shows us what a difference an inker can make. Most of the Camuncoli we’ve seen recently has been inked by veteran Klaus Janson and it was a little too angular and hard, especially as a follow-up to Ramos. But, here we get to see Camuncoli inked by Dan Green and it’s a LOT better. Much softer, smoother and more organic, and much more in keeping with the Ramos look. The only negative on the art for me was when Camuncoli tried to show the Hobgoblin’s HA HA HA HA vocal effect and it just didn’t come off nearly as well as when Ramos does it. It hate to compare the two, but it seems appropriate here.
Conclusion: This was a pretty solid issue. If anyone was wondering if this title had lost its juice after that mediocre Alpha story, this should put those minds at ease.
– Dean Stell