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

The Story: The Goblin Nation gets even worse as Otto needs to prepare himself to counter-attack. The only thing, though, is that he’s not the only one in that regard…

The Review: Tempering our expectations is something that every enthusiast of anything should learn to do. To have any kind of hope toward something can lead to disappointment, which can be earned or not. Still, with many marketing strategy built around the fact that people must be excited and eager to find out what any product does or can succeed at, it’s something that can be particularly hard to achieve.

It is why the very last storyline of this book has quite a lot to live up to. With the controversial series building up to this particular arc, the creative team has a lot to work with, yet also huge challenges to meet if they want to end this whole experimentation on a high note.

With such information being released to the readers, one cannot help but be a tad underwhelmed by this particular issue for various reasons. While it doesn’t do anything of bad quality or things that are questionable at best, it suffers a bit from middle-chapter syndrome. It brings a lot of elements upfront and explains some details that are vital for the continuation of the story, yet sacrifice some of the better aspects in order to do just that.

For what it’s worth, the sense of dread and the tension of the Goblin army and their attack brings a lot of excitation to the tale, with the destruction of Spider-Island and the chase for Otto and his friends being of particular interest. The chase, the few actions and the very way in which the threat the Goblin King represent is handled quite well, presenting something that is rather large in terms of scope.

What also works very well is the way Dan Slott brings out several of the supporting cast together in order to combine many of the subplots together. Making Mary-Jane and the others an integral part of what is going on is a wise move, providing a few surprises that makes the direction of this tale something that might go in a different and interesting way.

Where the writer doesn’t live up to his potential, though, is in how he divides his book, with plenty of scenes which serves only to establish facts and bring out some elements and exposition that slows the book down in several instances. While the manner in which Otto gets blamed and stopped around does make for a smart comeuppance on the way he dealt with things in general, the lack of focus on his reactions makes the issue somewhat weaker. While the introduction of the Spider-Slayers, the way Mary-Jane deals with everything and how the Goblin King plans ahead may bring out some divergent notions that may prove entertaining down the line, it doesn’t help the progress of the story told in this issue in ways that are fun or novel.

An element that is a bit questionable, though, are the pages focusing on Peter Parker being in Otto’s memory. While they do bring a new insight to his character, these particular scenes seems a bit out of place in the context of the narrative of this arc. Bringing the story to a halt, they are a bit more distracting to those interested in the main conflict rather than useful. While they do seem to play a role in the eventual return of Peter Parker, their inclusion here are a bit of an oddity.

What’s certainly not questionable, though, is the talent of both Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell. With a knack for bringing a god deal of motion and many elements together in the same panels, both artists delivers quite a lot in some astounding panels full of mayhem and destruction. Delivering a good amount of energy, this issue ranks up as one of Camuncoli’s best with a playfulness with the layout in some pages that are downright inventive. While the usefulness of the Peter Parker pages is ambiguous, their general design are simply gorgeous, with a simulation of controlled chaos that is fluid despite its very nature.

The characters, despite this attention to savagery, are also very aptly put on the page, with a good range and diversity of emotions as well as mostly natural poses that allows them to breathe and speak through the visual language as well as the written one. Allowing the panels to help with his approach to the characters, Camuncoli bring a good amount of focus on them without hurting the setting or the action in any way. While it might not be the most exciting chapter in the saga of Spider-Ock, it is quite a good one in terms of art.

The colorization of Antonio Fabela is also something to be noticed, with a subdued, but also dark palette that allows for the more explosive and stranger elements to be immediately noticeable for the readers. With a good diversity, but also a good focus on some more important colors in some pages to provide an anchor for contrasts and tone, Fabela plays well with the backgrounds, characters and other such elements to provide plenty of focalization for the book in many pages. With a lesser emphasis on shading and a bigger one on small tint of brightness all around to battle the darker overtone, the issue provides the necessary colors to further enhance the distress and chaos of the arc so far.

The Conclusion
: There are some slower moments and the division between some scenes do hurt the book a bit, yet the tone of the issue, the approach to the themes and some of the surprising decisions of the creative team provide for an issue that still enjoyable despite all that. Good, but short of greatness in some accounts.

Grade: B-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière