‘Goblin Nation’ continues to ramp up the excitement as the Green Goblin outwits Spider-Man at every turn and begins to make things really personal for Otto Octavius. So far, the Goblin’s attacks have been at targets Peter Parker would care about more than Otto, but now? The gloves are well and truly off. Dan Slott (and co-writer Christos Gage this issue) really is crafting an epic finale to this series, as everything falls into place.
We begin with the aftermath of an explosion at Parker Industries, with Sajani telling the press that she can’t find Peter or Monster anywhere, so he’s presumed dead. The Goblin is angry at this, not because he knows Peter is Spider-Man, but because, as Spider-Man’s supposed best friend, he wanted to use Peter as leverage against Otto. Of course, SpOck isn’t dead, and he and Sajani are hard at work in the bowels of Parker Industries trying to reverse the effects of the Goblin Serum on Carlie. He calls Mary Jane to tell her to get people out of New York, but as we saw last issue, she’s way ahead of. SpOck’s brusque tone with MJ in this conversation looks like being the last straw for her sticking by him, I wonder if she’ll actually a bigger part of the end to this story than we realise.
Before he can really get down to fixing Carlie, Otto receives another call, this time from the Green Goblin! It’s pretty much a running joke in this story that the Goblin can hack anything. Green Goblin demands Spider-Man come out onto the streets, because he has something to show him, and man, it’s a doozy. I loved Goblin’s reasoning for why he’s targeting Otto so much, it’s because he’s mad that he didn’t get to kill the real Spider-Man himself, that the second biggest villain beat him to it. I’ve said since the beginning that this storyline may have actually moved Doctor Octopus up to first place on the Spider-Man enemies list, and it was great to have that kind of idea show up in the comics. It makes sense that these guys would be competitive. Goblin then hacks into Spider-Man’s mask, and shows him footage from around the City of places that Otto Octavius holds dear being blown up. His childhood home, the lab where he became Doc Ock, the facility where his old inventions are being kept, the sight of his first big triumph as Spider-Man, even the HEART clinic… all of them are totally destroyed, along with any people inside them. Spidey is furious, and vows to kill the Goblin, who tells him that the next place for him to go is ESU, where he has someone very close to Otto held captive. SpOck assumes that this means Anna Maria, and so races off towards what he’s sure is a trap. I love how in this moment he’s finally forced to ask himself ‘what would Peter Parker do?’. Otto has always considered his approach to be, well, superior to Peter’s, but now, at the end, it might not be.
We get one brief glimpse here inside the mindscape, where things are not looking good, Peter Parker’s consciousness has almost fully melded with Otto’s, and he’s consumed with hatred for Spider-Man.
Spider-Man being spotted leads to Jonah finally releasing his Spider-Slayers to stop both him and the Goblins, but it might be too late for Jonah. He held back on sending them out just to help people, because he was saving them for Spider-Man, which leads to Glory walking out on him. I think that Slott is building towards something big with Jonah by the end of this story, it was fun to have the cliché inverted and have him love the Superior Spider-Man, but now he’s back to full-on hate, but he’s gone too far. I smell redemption in the air for JJJ somehow. Spider-Man makes it to ESU, where he find the Goblin and his captive, who turns out to be, not Anna Maria, but Dr Lamaze! From the Goblin’s perspective, Lamaze is the closest thing Otto Octavius had to a friend, which, wow, that’s just sad. Spidey leaps at Green Goblin, but, again with the hacking and Gobby has control of his robot arms, which immediately start attacking their owner. The Goblin flies off to leave Spider-Man to be killed by his own arms, but, in a surprising moment, Lamaze sacrifices himself to stop one of them. Against all the odds, Superior Spider-Man inspired someone to be a hero, and man, it was actually quite poignant. Lamaze has basically been a joke and a dick throughout this series, but his death definitely has an impact. And it’s not even the end of the issue!
Before SpOck can catch his breath, the Spider-Slayers show up to take him out, with Jonah ranting all the while. They tussle a bit, but then they are shut down by Spider-Man 2099, who wants to find out just what the hell is going on with the present-day Spidey. But before he can get any answers, the Spider-Slayers are back online… and now under the control of the Green Goblin! Interestingly, the face that appears on the Slayers is that of Norman Osborn’s, not the Goblin mask, but we still haven’t had any actual confirmation if the Goblin really is Norman, so there’s definitely still a twist coming.
This was another excellent issue of a fantastic storyline, and Camuncoli’s artwork was another stand-out. His work has always been solid, but lately he seems to have been experimenting a bit more with his layouts, the scenes inside the mindscape in particular have been great, I loved how the panels were actually segments of Ock’s tentacles. We’re at the half-way point of the finale, and things look bad for Spider-Man whichever way you look at it, I can’t wait to see how Slott and Gage turn things around for Peter’s triumphant return, which at this stage, couldn’t look further away.