“Danger Zone Part Three: War of the Goblins”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by both Dan Green and John Dell
Colored by Antonio Fabela
Lettered by VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
THE PLOT: The two Hobgoblins, one Phil Urich and the other Roderick Kingsley, are chasing Peter and Max Modell through the streets of New York. They’re heading to Osborn’s secret hideout, lead by the Goblin key which contains his biggest secrets. Once arriving, Peter switches to Spider-Man while Modell attempts to save Norah Winters from the Goblin’s murderous drones.
LONG STORY SHORT: A battle ensues between Spidey and the Hobgoblins, resulting in the destruction of the Osborn hideout. Kingsley electrocutes Urich and is about to finish him, before coercing him to being Hobgoblin for just a little while longer. Spider-Man seeks out to destroy the remaining Spider-Jammers, while Tiberious Stone is on the run from the Kingpin’s wrath, now fired from Horizon Labs.
MY THOUGHTS: After two issues of feeling “meh” about this story, the third part ends with an action packed climax that hooks me from the start. It’s hard to put my finger on why this issue grabbed me where the previous ones didn’t, as it’s not like those were all that bad to begin with. Whatever the case, “Danger Zone” ends up being a perfectly serviceable entry into Slott’s run and brings back the classic Hobgoblin in true style.
I’ll start with the art. Normally, Giuseppe Camuncoli’s pencils leave me feeling cold and unimpressed. He’s certainly a solid artist with a sense for dramatic flair, but as I said in last issue’s review I’m not sure if he fits super hero comics, let alone Spider-Man. This issue makes me take that back, as the fight between Spidey and the Goblins was a lot of fun. It was a bit short, but I really enjoyed every panel of Spider-Man flying through the air, punching and dodging the Goblins’ blows. I’d like to compliment John Dell for his welcomed inks. They deliver a richer, more luscious depth to the pencils which serves as a nice change from the bitter, needle-esque linework that Green and Janson before him typically gave. It wasn’t just the inking however. Camuncoli’s storyboards worked wonderfully and carried the second half of the issue. From the moment Spider-Man comes bursting out of the Osborn building, there’s a real sense of dimension. Perhaps it’s due to the fight taking place outside in the open, as opposed to inside a building in the last issue. I never felt any excitement from the Hobgoblin battle there, but in the issue it felt like old times. Camuncoli had Spidey be very acrobatic and agile, harkening back to stories like the Ron Frenz illustrated “Hobgoblin Lives” or the season one Hobgoblin two parter from the 90s show. This is what Spidey vs Goblin stories demand, and it was a treat to see it delivered in spades. The two Green Goblin masks that looked like Ditko-era and Romit-era was a nice easter egg as well.
Writing-wise, it’s typical Slott fare which can go either way at any given moment. Characterization’s for the most part intact, but there are those plot contrivances which try to go past the reader as if there’s nothing wrong. The whole plot of the Goblin Key still comes off as a basic macguffin which is vaguely defined and happens to lead the character to exactly the right place…as though it had a mind of its own. The place is also hopefully in walking distance. Phil threatens Norah’s life to scare Peter and Kingsley has to say out loud to Phil “You really mean it don’t you?” to let the reader know that he does. We’ve seen Phil’s perspective several times throughout this run, why couldn’t we see if he did or not here? We read his thought bubble later on that he surprises himself that he doesn’t mind Norah dying, but that would’ve been better served without the exposition earlier. Finally, Slott feels the need to show his degree by referencing a famous Ditko story. Not saying that it wasn’t a fun call-back, but the reasoning for it was tenuous at best.
These are admittedly nitpicks which don’t really bring the issue down too much, but they’re conveniences that serve as crutches for a writer who seemingly can’t do without them. I take that back. Slott is a solid writer and has shown in the past that he can do without using plot contrivances to tell a good story. It’s why it’s annoying whenever Slott so often employs such tropes.
In the end the bad guys were defeated, and the original Hobgoblin is back on top where he belongs. That’s all anyone really asks for, and it’s pulled off with moderate competence. I think it was a good thing that Slott didn’t have Kingsley kill of Urich even though it’s what everyone wanted to see. He’s a character with a sizeable history and potential, so I think the ending with Kingsley forcing Urich to work him made sense for the characters and benefits the future of the Goblin legacy.
Finally, the scene with Norman Osborn’s body disappearing made for an interesting plug for the next issue. Slott’s been famously screaming online for people to buy #698 but not to spoil or else. If nothing else, I’m dying to know what the big deal is. That’s a positive I can say for Slott’s run in these dying days of Amazing Spider-Man. He’s a writer who can make a longtime reader perpetually curious as to what will happen issue-to-issue. That’s a good way to go out if anything.