by Dan Slott (Writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell (Artists), Antonio Fabela (Colorist)

The Story: The reign of the Goblin King begins as his handle on New-York baffles Spider-Ock.

The Review: It’s hard to forget the fact that this is somehow the finale arc for this title. While the news that Peter Parker will be back in April does permeate this issue, his return is still in a few months, which makes reading Spider-Ock somewhat of a different experience now. With some actually lamenting the fact that Otto might go away and some happy about his eventual disappearance, this last arc has quite a lot to live to.

Thankfully, it seems that Dan Slott understand this very much, using quite a lot of the build up cemented in the series as a whole in order to amplify things up considerably. With quite a lot happening and many of the plot threads converging, the writer brings a lot here to satisfy fans of this particular experiment. However, does he succeed with his opening issue or are there some weaknesses bringing things down?

In many respects, Slott does a lot of things right here, the first of them being the scenes revolving around Otto Octavius. Still being the generally devious and scheming kind, what’s actually quite interesting here is how the story shows Otto being out of his depths. With all the various moments in the series with him being prepared for anything and being a generally utilitarian and efficient super hero, the stark contrast with him being on the receiving end of an elaborate scheme makes for a rather interesting read, especially due to his reactions. How he interacts with the Goblin King, how he tries to clear the mystery of where he is hiding and how he has difficulty juggling with being Spider-Man and the head of Parker industries does make for a nice extrapolation of Otto’s many faults, which makes him rather interesting to read in this issue.

The little moments with the supporting cast are also quite efficient, with many of the subplots being on their way to contribute to the latest arc of this title. Be it with Captain Watanabe and he search for Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson and his new spider-slayers, Anna Maria Marconi and her supporting role and others, there is a certain convergence at work that makes this chapter in Otto’s new life quite fun, with some elements moving in unpredictable ways.

A part that simply isn’t that great, though, is the one focusing on Peter Parker. While his inevitable return might prove to be something particularly entertaining, the scene focusing on him lacks some serious punch. The manner in which he talks to himself, narrating the whys and how of how he feels as an hollow memory and his questioning the methods in which he may come back does tend to stop the plot right in its track. The concept at play is interesting and it does manage to present some of the more iconic moments in Spider-Man’s life in a new light, but as a plot progression and character analysis device, it is a bit lacking.

What’s certainly not lacking is the art of Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell, though. With a dynamic panel layout, fluid storytelling and a great approach to scenery in order to bring out the right ambiance, the art here is a major bonus. Playing with many elements without overloading the pages, Camuncoli manages to bring everything needed to present the right tone without negating the use of negative space and making anything appear out of place. His general composition is also very strong, with a good flexibility in terms of close-up and larger scenes, showing a good flair for the dramatic and the atmospheric without emphasising one over the other. His characters, which had been some of his weaknesses in previous issues he did, are really great here though. With a fine line between subtle and exaggerated with the fitting characters, the range of emotions is rather neat here, with the world-weary Jonah, the mad Goblin King and the cautious Peter Parker being only small examples of what he can do as an artist.

The colorization of Antonio Fabela is another story though. Fidgeting around from brilliant to a bit more middle-of-the-road, there are some moments that are simply much better than others, which makes for a rather uneven quality to the presentation of colors. The action scenes near the end, the moments focusing on Peter Parker and those with Otto against the Goblin King are very nice to see, with a very clear angle filled with powerful contrasts, yet the other scenes are a bit less focused. With a bigger diversity yet a lower commitment to any palette or color temperature, most of the issue ends up being adequate, yet a bit unmemorable. Being fine is by no mean a weakness, but not standing out most of the time is by no mean an achievement.

The Conclusion: With some very good moments and a rise in terms of scales when it comes to conflicts, this opening issue to the final arc works very well. With some great art yet unexceptional colorization, it is an issue with more strengths than weakness, which makes it quite enjoyable despite some of the lower points.

Grade: B

-Hugo Robberts Larivière