‘Goblin Nation’ continues to deliver as promised, an epic conclusion to the great, long-running storyline that is Superior Spider-Man. In this issue, the Green Goblin really has SpOck on the back foot, but there’s still a ways to go, and the war has only just begun, so whilst this issue wasn’t quite as explosive as #27, there’s plenty of exciting stuff on the horizon.
Slott of course begins right in the thick of the Goblin Assault on Spider-Island, with the base in flames, and all of the various secondary Goblins swarming over it, killing Spiderlings left right and centre. They even kill Spiderling #23, who was apparently Spider-Man’s favourite. It’s a shame that this character hadn’t been a bit more developed before his death really, but I suppose it was to demonstrate that even though Ock is an evil villain with henchman, he’s probably slightly less evil than the Green Goblin (I’m also surprised Slott didn’t go with #21 or #24 to make a cool Venture Bros reference).
Spider-Man is able to escape thanks to his Living Brain robot, so the Green Goblin moves on to phase 2 of his plan, which is to go after Spider-Man’s loved ones. If that sounds a little clichéd, it’s meant to be, as Slott subverts our expectations here in a pretty bad-ass way. 2 of those Goblin/Vulture children go after MJ and her new boyfriend, but since MJ has been attacked for being Peter Parker’s girlfriend/wife/friend/whatever so many times over the years, she’s prepared for them, and even has her own pair of web-shooters which she uses to take out the Goblin kids. MJ then sets off to round up the others who are in danger, like Aunt May and Jay Jameson, taking them off of the board. I really liked this development, as I said, going after supporting characters is a cliché, and having MJ combat that shows how this really is a different era of Spider-Man, and not just because of who’s under the mask. Unfortunately though, MJ isn’t able to round up everyone, and Anna Maria is picked up by Lily Hollister, AKA Menace, who is claiming to be a friend of Peter’s, so I guess the cliché isn’t entirely subverted. But this makes sense, Anna Maria is the only supporting character in this book who is loved and cared for more by Otto Octavius than by Peter Parker. Sure, Otto doesn’t want MJ or Aunt May to die, but Peter never even met Anna Maria, she’s Otto’s love, and having her be the lone captive works very well.
Spider-Man resurfaces, as Peter Parker, at Parker Industries, where he is confronted, first by Sajani, who is understandably pissed at him for disappearing, and then by Wraith, who wants to bring him in for questioning about Carlie’s whereabouts. Wraith is able to use her mask to know that Peter is telling the truth when he says he doesn’t know where Carlie is, but she soon gets her answer, as Carlie shows up as ‘Monster’. Well, she doesn’t get her answer really, as Wraith’s mask is under the same ‘Goblin Protocol’ as the Spider-Bots were. She can’t see Monster at all, and so is easily knocked. Monster reveals her identity to Peter, which has him totally freaking out. If the Goblin has Carlie, then he knows he’s Peter Parker! After managing to separate himself and Monster and Sajani, there’s another twist though, as Monster crushes her own earpiece, not allowing Green Goblin to hear her, and reveals that her human side is still in control, and that she hasn’t revealed the whole truth, and that she needs him to fix her. This was set up rather well, with Carlie refusing to tell Green Goblin whose face was under the mask, but it still surprised me, and with time running out before Monster takes control and spills the beans, it adds even more urgency to an already desperate situation for SpOck.
Despite all the craziness happening in the outside world, I think my favourite scenes in this issue were the ones set inside the mind, with Peter Parker trapped looking at Otto Octavius’ memories. Slott does a fantastic job here of comparing and contrasting the two characters. There are a lot of similarities, both were nerdy genius kids who were bullied at school, but there are fundamental differences too, Peter was raised in a loving environment by his Aunt and Uncle, but Otto was alternately over-coddled by his mother, and beaten by his dad, which gave Otto much more of a chip on his shoulder than Peter (although, if you read those early Lee/Ditko stories, Peter is a lot angrier at the world than he would become). Slott really shows how Otto Octavius is like a dark mirror of Spider-Man, perhaps even more than Venom. Giuseppe Camuncoli’s layouts here were excellent, and the way Slott wrote Peter’s narration, with him slipping in and out of being himself and being Otto was very clever as well.
In terms of other subplots, Jonah reveals his new Spider-Slayers to the public, only he’s calling them ‘Goblin-Slayers’ now. It looks like this is going be a big part of the next issue, and that Spider-Man 2099 is going to get involved once again. Man, Slott really is tying everything together here, and it’s working out wonderfully.