yhst-23599503122488_2038_353559064The Green Goblin Vs. Barrack Obama. Yes, I DID just type that.

And yes, you WILL leave a comment.

WRITER: Andy Diggle
ARTIST: Roberto De La Torre
COLORIST: Frank Martin
LETTERER: Albert Deschensne

Norman Osborn and Victoria Hand meet the newly innaugerated President (drawn as Obama but never named), who invites Norman to fly on Air Force One and defend himself against certain allegations. Doc Samson’s aboard with a DVD of th
e Thunderbolt Mountain security footage detailing Norman’s Green Goblin rampage. Stalling, Norman twists Samson’s story against him, bringing up the ceramic blade he smuggled and accusing him of collaborating with the psychic saboteurs. When it comes time to play the footage, missiles destroy the fighter escorts and the new Thunderbolts, already inside Air Force One, strike. Yelena Belovna, Black Widow II, takes over the cockpit while the Irredeemable Ant-Man freaks Samson out with a tiny gamma emitter on his collar. The Ghost secures the DVD, setting the stage for the show-stopper: a decoy Green Goblin who explodes onto the plane.

With Amazing Spider-Man #583 reviving 90s-style speculation with its tacked-on, five-page Obama story, I’m surprised Marvel promoted the President’s likeness here so little. After all, this full-length comic uses America’s leadership change in service to the company’s core storyline, so it could effectively pull new readers into the larger Marvel Universe. On the other hand, perhaps Marvel doesn’t want mainstream media focus directed at crass, violent Thunderbolts and has taken the right path in marketing a simple, non-challenging Spidey story to Obamaphiles who will never read what’s inside their ebay-gouged variant covers. Regardless, Andy Diggle knows how to do a timely comic right; he uses current events where they make sense in the course of Marvel’s ongoing plot without drawing attention away from the fiction, lapsing into diatribe, or making references that will date the book. Instead,
he injects just enough reality to make it fun while he addresses how Norman deals with his appointor’s skeptical replacement.

Early on, Norman sits with his fist clenched, later gripping the side of a table. We seldom witness visible stress during Norman’s periods of sanity because writers play up his smug confidence in his own schemes and contingency plans. As the story unfolds, we find that Mr. Osborn did, in fact, have his trademark aces firmly in sleeve. But, even as he plies his manipulator’s craft, the tension pushes him to the verge of self-certainty. Diggle and Roberto de la Torre execute this balancing act with deft subtlety and finesse, proving rare mastery over their much-exposed protagonist.

Diggle makes inspired roster choices for what Norman calls a “covert assassination squad.” These obscure and cult characters have the right chemistry of powers and personalities for a book such as this, but ultimately Diggle must fully realize the potential offered by underused, blank slate characters. So far, I’m slightly annoyed by Ant Man, curious of Ghost’s presence, and intrigued by Black Widow. I anxiously await Diggle’s plans for Headsman, Paladine, Mr. X, and the cover’s badass hockey mask mystery man. Best of all, Diggle drops these misfits straight into action and reserves the lengthy recruitment scenes for flashbacks spread over multiple issues.

4 webheads out of 5. No other comic has me biting my lip in anticipation month after month, and this creative team has yet to produce a disappointing issue.


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