‘Goblin Nation’ is finally here, and Dan Slott is delivering on all of his promises here, on everything that’s been set up over the previous 26 issues. We are getting an epic confrontation between Spider-Man and Green Goblin and a fitting end to this superior era.
The issue begins after a month-long time-skip, with the Goblin Army wreaking havoc across New York, and SpOck at a loss as to what’s going on, and why his surveillance isn’t working. An entire area of his ‘grid’ is shut down, and when he goes to check it out, it’s the Brooklyn Bridge, and it’s been daubed with the Green Goblin symbol… SpOck now knows that it’s the Green rather than Hob variety that he should have been worried about, and this leads to a trip into his memories to work out just why Goblin chose this particular bridge.
Most Spider-Man fans know that this was the place where Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy, and the ghost of Peter Parker knows that too, as he sees Otto accessing that part of the mindscape. Peter needs to try and keep hidden from Otto, and he does so by diving into one of Ock’s memories, where he sees his birth. Peter is trying to hold on to his own identity, but this scene ends with him fading away again. We all know that Peter is coming back soon, but this was a surprising twist, and it opens some interesting possibilities for how he’ll actually come back. Is he going to change all of Otto’s memories? Take them over like Otto did his?
Back in the ‘real’ world, SpOck is desperately trying to tinker with his Spider-Bots and work out just why they aren’t detecting the Goblinds. Anna Maria reminds him that he’s supposed to be running his own company now, but he brushes her off. It looks like Parker Industries is going to flop, and that could have serious implications for when the real Parker is back, his life is going to be so fucked-up, I can’t wait. The TV is on in the background, and it shows Mayor Jonah still supporting Spider-Man in public, but we also see that he and Alchemax are very close indeed to finishing their new Spider-Slayers, and from the dialogue, it looks like these will be a major call-back to the originals, as Jonah wants his face on them.
There are so many threats hanging around SpOck right now that it’s hard to keep track of at times, you’ve got Green Goblin first and foremost, then Jonah, then Peter Parker’s return and also Captain Watanabe’s attempts to arrest him for Carlie’s disappearance. Watanabe appears in this issue trying to get Sajani to tell her where Peter is, but she honestly has no idea.
SpOck works out that the problem with the Spider-Bots is due to the one piece of tech he didn’t develop, the facial recognition that Uatu Jackson invented. I’m not sure I like the fact that Superior Spider-Man’s downfall here isn’t actually his fault, but I think Uatu is a great supporting character and it was good to see him again. He and Spider-Man work out how to find the source of the signal jam, and Spidey heads underground for a long-awaited face-to-face with the Green Goblin.
After an initial show of force with his henchman, Gobby actually wants this to be one on one. His stooges leave, and it’s just the two of them across a table. Goblin reveals that he knows Spider-Man is really Doctor Octopus, and therefore, since they aren’t actually enemies, there’s no need for a fight. Green Goblin wants to partner up and have Otto be his second after they’ve conquered New York. But of course, SpOck is having none of this, from the very start of this story, this has all been about Otto Octavius’ ego, about him wanting to prove he was smarter than Spider-Man, that he was, well, Superior. No way will his ego allow him to be somebody’s second. Spider-Man smashes the table, and it looks like we’re going to get the big fight right away! Except we aren’t, as when Gobby tries to fry Spider-Man with his lighting, we see that this wasn’t actually Spider-Man, but a solid hologram a la Stunner.
It was awesome to see that plotline resurface here, and it just demonstrates how this has all been an incredibly well-done lengthy story from Slott. Every issue and moment has mattered, and at the end of it, we’ll have a 34 or so issue story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Spider-Man mocks Gobby, saying that he’s way too smart to go into his secret lair alone, but it’s Green Goblin who has the last laugh. Spider-Man’s lair is no secret, and this issue ends with an attack on Spider-Island from all of the various Goblins, which leads to the island exploding. Oh yes, it’s all-out war now, all the cards are on the table, the gauntlet has been thrown and things can only get bigger. And as I’ve said, even when Spider-Man defeats the Goblins, there’s still 3 more enemies out to end him.
The art here comes from Superior regular Giuseppe Camuncoli, who does his usual sterling work. I especially liked the scenes set inside Otto and Peter’s shared mindscape, where he did an awesome job at emulating the likes of Steve Ditko and John Romita, who drew the original stories Otto was remembering.
The end is nigh for Superior Spider-Man, but it’s going out with a bang (literally) and as I said, when all’s said and done, this will stand the test of time as a complete story that has changed Spider-Man forever.