THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #573
“Weapons of Self Destruction” (Part 6 of “New Ways To Die”)
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: John Romita Jr.
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Dean White
LETTERS: Cory Petit
Harry barges into Oscorp for a “why don’t you love me wah wah wah” session with dear old dad, now in Green Goblin regalia, just in time for a joint attack by Spider-Man and Anti-Venom. Anti-Venom takes on the Thunderbolts, leaving Spidey for the Goblin himself. Our hero plows his nemesis’ head through three walls, the last of which leads to a secret laboratory full of human test subjects. Norman obliquely alludes to Harry somehow sharing responsibility for this and sets off the lab’s self-destruct sequence. Spidey chooses saving the innocents over capturing the Goblin, and that heroism prompts Songbird and Radioactive Man to let the authorities assume Spider-Man dead.
Mac Gargan blasts Anti-Venom full of Freak poison with his new scorpion tale. However, the symbiote prevents Mac from finishing its old host by destroying the Scorpion armor. The fight ends in a stalemate.
Later, Harry, Pete and Lily dig through Norman’s wrecked office, looking for a file Harry insists is important. Harry leaves to check a storage area, allowing Lily to plant a kiss on Peter, which distracts him from examining a book that we know from last issue opens Norman’s hidden Goblin gear closet when pulled. Peter honorably pushes Lily away, and Harry returns file in hand with a canister labeled “Prometheus X-90” hidden in his bag.
Ben Urich can’t get the Chinese test subjects to testify against Oscorp because they fear deportation. Meanwhile, the miracle healings associated with Martin Li wear off, and Li himself looks ill. When May tries to comfort him, his eyes turn black and he snaps at her.
Outside, Eddie Brock roams the street, soliloquizing about how he’ll cure the city’s sickness as Anti-Venom.
The issue ends with a backup story by Mark Waid and Patrick Olliffe in which Spider-Man meets the comedian Stephen Colbert. Waid emulates Colbert’s pompous voice reasonably well, but this story lacks the TV show’s satirical wit, providing no laughs for even a Colbert Report fan like myself. Worse, Steve Wacker explains the political acronym DNC in an editor’s note, which I find both patronizing and unnecessary given the abundance of context clues. This page count padder adds no value whatsoever to this overpriced issue.
The best Green Goblin versus Spider-Man matches, from the Death of Gwen Stacy to the more recent “Death in the Family” arc, have one thing in common: these enemies fight a verbal battle just as brutal as the physical contest. Norman Osborn transcends the average Spidey villain because, in addition to pumpkin bombs, he has an entire psychological arsenal to use against Peter that he’s built up over years of ruining the webhead’s life. But now, as I understand it, Norman might remember something like killing Gwen Stacy, and that Spider-Man took it unusually hard, but he can’t make the connection that she was actually Spider-Man’s girlfriend. How can someone like Dan Slott recapture their nasty, personal conflict now that Norman no longer knows how much pain he’s caused Spider-Man in the past?
Apparently, he can’t. Slott tries to make it personal by having them clash over Harry’s allegiance, but he writes Harry as such an unsympathetic brat that one can’t get caught up in the fight for his heart and soul. This issue confirms that Harry knows his father killed one of one of his best friends and countless others, so why did Harry try so hard to impress Norman earlier in the arc? All his grievances against Norman revolve around what Norman did to him. He’s so selfish and unlikable that I don’t care whether or not he goes back into the grave, let alone which side he chooses.
Another disappointment, the Ven-orpion versus Anti-Venom showdown makes no sense. The symbiote never hesitated to kill an ex-host before. In fact, the reason for its hatred for Spider-Man is because Peter was a former host that rejected it. And we know the symbiote has no more love for Brock than Peter because, as we saw in Venom’s second appearance, it will leave the former for the latter given the opportunity.
With no emotional investment, all the bright colors and action are nothing but noise on the page. The noise sure looks pretty, though, thanks to John Romita Junior. The issue at least feels climactic on a visceral level. Spider-Man ramming the Goblin through all those walls and rescuing everyone from the collapsing building succeeds at enthralling, just not as much so as it would had anything actually felt at stake.
3 webheads out of 5. So, was “New Ways to Die” the year’s most exciting Spider-Man arc? Would it even mean anything if I said yes?
REVIEWED BY: CrazyChris