Dan Slott (Writer), Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Edgar Delgado (Colorists)
The Story: Phil Urich really gets what’s coming to him as Otto manage to manipulate a situation to his advantage.
The Review: For critics, it’s always easier to talk about great or horrible comics. When it’s in one of those two extremes, it’s surprisingly easy to say what works well and what truly doesn’t. The point is to be objective, of course, yet there will always be a touch of subjectivity when anyone talk about a cultural product, whether they want to or not. What’s harder, though, are the average comics, those that are competent, yet did not really leave a huge impact on the critic himself. When dealing with a middle-tier comic in terms of quality, it becomes a bit tougher to balance the good with the bad in a coherent manner.
This issue is a pretty good example of this, as it moves along nicely, shows some scenes that are well done, yet doesn’t go out of its way to really bring any ”wow” factor. Here, Slott conclude his Hobgoblin story competently, putting some pieces in place for the future of his title, yet a lot of what happens here just isn’t that impressive.
There are some good parts here, starting with the way Otto is written as a mastermind, featuring his villainous methods as being rather entertaining. He is manipulative, arrogant and this comes as fun as his interaction with Robertson, the Avengers and the general public shows just how cunning he can be in terms of how he appears to everyone.
Not all characters are treated with the same level of quality, though, as the need of the story sometimes comes against them. Phil Urich mostly comes as being the victim of Otto’s plan rather than as a full-fledged character here, which is a shame as he had been well-written in the last issue. Him losing his sanity and getting desperate do help the story flow, yet his reactions, motivations and his feelings aren’t well-communicated through the issue, which could have helped a lot of the dialogue-heavy scenes greatly. Carlie Cooper and Wraith, meanwhile, get from point A to B during their own scenes, yet it doesn’t amount to much as it merely tease toward something that might happen down the line. It helps set up the mystery of how Otto is achieving some of his goals and set up the status about his spiderlings, but it doesn’t do much in the plans of this issue.
The plot could also be described in the same manner, as while it does change some things by moving some elements here and there, it does not do much beside teasing something that has been hinted coming ever since the inception: the Green Goblin. A lot of what happens here is the result of previous issues, yet things are resolved a bit too easily and quickly to be a satisfying reading experience as it is almost hand waved in order to get to the Green Goblin scene near the end. There is also the pacing, which is a bit weird as the momentum of several scenes are interrupted by other scenes which are made specifically for the future of the title, like the Carlie Cooper and the Tiberius Stone scene that don’t add up to much for the main plotline of the issue. A lot of these characters just divert away from the more entertaining aspects of the issue, those that shows Otto and his direct actions.
Speaking of actions, it’s quite a boon for this issue to be illustrated by none other than Humberto Ramos with Victor Olazaba as his inker. This duo really bring the larger-than-life aspects of the character and his surroundings to life as the cartoony and hyperbolized elements becomes much more distinctive. The characters expressions are quite affected by this style, as the characters really convey their general feelings and emotions aptly, like Phil Urich becoming insane, Norah Winter being angry and so on. The same goes on for the other elements like the flaming sword, the mist surrounding Wraith and the many extravagant poses of Spider-Ock, which makes him a perfect fit for the regular action-packed super hero book. It lacks in subtlety, to be sure, but this book is anything but subtle most of the times.
The coloring is pretty much the same in that regard, as Edgar Delgado goes in for the selective exaggeration to set a tone for each scenes. The heavy use of shadows and dark on Otto reflects his morally ambiguous methods, putting him in comparison to the lighter and brighter colors of the rest of the issue. The goblin scenes are also equally dark, but to different effects as the impact of that scene, on a visual level, is pretty good in terms of foreshadowing.
The Conclusion: A visually satisfying issue that advances the plot, hints at more things coming and provide some good moments here and there, yet does not do much in terms of actual satisfactory plot development.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière